Monday, January 28, 2013

Shifting Blame

New York Daily News photo of Hillary Clinton by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
This past week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton engaged in congressional testimony to determine facts associated with the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

Think Progress has a transcript of portions of the Secretary’s remarks.  Here is an exchange between Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mrs. Clinton over why she failed to set the record straight on the cause of the attack:

JOHNSON: Madam Secretary, do you disagree that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened would have ascertained immediately there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained; within hours if not days.

CLINTON: Senator, you know, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process.

JOHNSON: I realize that. I realize it’s a good excuse.

CLINTON: No, it’s a fact.

JOHNSON: Again, we were misled.  There was supposedly protests and something spraying out of that; assault spraying out of that. That was easily ascertained that was not the fact and the American people could have known that within days and didn’t know that.

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.  (My emphasis)

I would have liked Senator Johnson to come back with this response…

JOHNSON: Mrs. Clinton, it is true that America has suffered the death of four of its citizens.  Keep in mind that we confirmed you to head our State Department.  You allowed four employees to die on your watch.  You allowed a false narrative to be imposed on the American people.  And now, you are shifting blame by intimating that “we” are all responsible.

Mrs. Clinton shifts blame either to her underlings (for whom she apparently has no presumed accountability), or to the American people in general (who must bear the shame of underfunding her operation).  As Secretary of State, she assumes the role of an advisor who only has responsibility for trying to do the right thing.

It is a familiar tactic.

The Democratic Party takes no blame for bringing civil war to America.  Slavery is America’s stain.

The Democratic Party takes no blame for segregating the South.  It is conservatives who are to blame.

Why do we give Democrats a pass in this shifting of blame?  It is because our culture assumes the Democratic Party is trying to do the right thing.  That is a wonderful trust relationship to have with the American people, but the part that’s missing is the “for whom” that comes after “trying to do the right thing.”

In the case of Mrs. Clinton, she is trying to do the right thing for the Democratic Party.  Americans assume this has congruence with a desire to do the right thing for America.

What should be of concern is, “What if that assumption is false?”

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