The White House Press Secretary and the Vice President both attempted to separate the administration from………..wait for it……….itself! The implication by extension being that the Benghazi failures falls on the State Department and by extension Secretary Clinton.
Hillary has a number of options. The President appears to have no way to escape what’s been said in the past week absent taking a strong leadership position which appears, typically, not to be his first instinct.
Option one: Bill! Bill Clinton could turn on President Obama without attacking him directly. Bill could and would take to the microphone to say that when he was President every decision made anywhere in his administration was his responsibility, the implication clear. The middle of the political spectrum still loves Bill as do Democrats. Bill could just take himself off the stump and wait for the question. Not hard to imagine Bill handling that one. Bill could end up being the unexpected October surprise. The President should know that if push comes to shove Bill’s loyalty is to Hillary and his memory is long; all the way back to South Carolina, four years ago. This is Hillary’s best option in the moment.
Option two: Hillary could resign! She could position herself as the adult in the room by stepping up to the responsibility for Benghazi. There are a number of potential benefits to this option. She’ll be praised for the courage to ‘do the right thing’, she gets to separate herself from the President’s failures and positions herself well to face a Democratic primary battle in three years with Joe Biden likely in the mix. Hill could demonstrate leadership, not much of that going around these days. The downside to a Hillary resignation is the fact that she was still blaming the video even as Ambassador Stevens’ body was brought home. She could of course point to the ongoing ‘investigation’ of the incident and the garnering of additional information, weak, but minions won’t care. She will also have three years to repair it; with Bill’s help of course. If Hillary resigns, the President is cooked. She remains the most popular and well considered member of the administration and she’s leaving after a first term no matter what happens.
Option Three: Hillary could contend that this is all BS and that the White House knew exactly what was going on. She may even have evidence to that effect. This would also cook the President. Her argument to the Democratic power structure would be fairly simple. “Look, this guy was going to lose anyway, look at the numbers, look at the internals, you think we should have both fallen on the sword?” “At least you’re left with a viable candidate in four years, who would you rather have; Biden, O’Malley or me?”
Option four: Play it out, only three plus weeks to Election Day. Hell, she can stonewall for that long, Hillary could travel, hide on the plane, dance lessons in Africa. She’s got lots of places she could go. She has not been a presence in the campaign; that should tell us something. She has also not engaged in any of the debate over domestic issues, steering clear of those controversies. The separation may be a case of degrees but its there.
The President has discussed the fact that he bears full responsibility for everything, but actions belie his words. If he lets this fall on Hillary he’s got some problems. Got problems with women voters at exactly the point in time when he can’t afford those problems. He’s got problems with the Clintonista infrastructure that populates a significant portion of his White House; problems with potential ‘leaks’ from the Clintonistas who ARE looking four years down the road.
The President will also have problems with the Intelligence community if he attempts to place the blame there. The Intelligence community has their own vehicles for payback. They are not shy when their butts are on the line. Fact is that State and the Intelligence folks are already leaking. The leaks, so far, have been a warning. Could easily be more to come if the President does not execute his best option; step up and tell the truth; the whole truth and nothing but the truth!