In 2012, a couple of weeks after the assault on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, I noted the strange chumminess of Hillary Clinton's eulogies to her "friend" "Chris" Stevens:
On Hugh Hewitt's radio last week, National Review columnist Mark Steyn accused the Obama administration of using slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens as a political prop.
Steyn, author of "After America: Get Ready for Armageddon," particularly criticized the way top administration officials — including the president — referred to Stevens as a "friend..."
"They have spent the next four weeks in effect lying to us, including people who claim to be Chris — everyone calls him 'Chris' in this administration — Chris, he is known to all, he is friend to all, Chris Stevens. Hillary Clinton calls him 'Chris.' Barack Obama calls him 'Chris.'"
"Hillary Clinton stood next to her friend Chris' coffin and went on about this video, even though she knew it was nothing to do with that," Steyn continued.
I disliked the mateyness. I would have preferred it had Obama and Clinton referred to him as "Ambassador Stevens": He was the representative of the United States, and that is why he died. And it seemed to me that all the Chris-this-Chris-that stuff was designed, like everything else, to deflect from the reality of what had happened - a successful military assault on the anniversary of 9/11 - and to turn it into merely a personal tragedy for poor "Chris". I returned to the theme on several occasions:
Once Ambassador Stevens was in his flag-draped coffin listening to her eulogy for him at Andrews Air Force Base, he was her bestest friend in the world — it was all "Chris this" and "Chris that," as if they'd known each other since third grade.
Yet, for such a close personal friend, "Chris" evidently had trouble getting hold of Hillary when he needed to:
In the very same self-serving testimony, the Secretary of State denied that she'd ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens' cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that "1.43 million cables come to my office" – and she can't be expected to see all of them, or any...
Nor was the late Christopher Stevens any old ambassador but, rather, Secretary Clinton's close personal friend "Chris." It was all "Chris" this, "Chris" that, when Secretary Clinton and President Obama delivered their maudlin eulogies over the flag-draped coffin of their "friend." Gosh, you'd think if they were on such intimate terms, "Chris" might have had Hillary's email address, but apparently not. He was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends cabling the State Department every hour of the day.
As we now know, Hillary's email address(es) were very tightly held by Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and a few other trusted consiglieres. Still, in her unreadable memoir Hard Choices, the 45th president-in-waiting kept up the buddy talk:
My thoughts immediately went to Chris. I had personally asked him to take on the assignment of Ambassador to Libya, and I shuddered to think that he and our other people on the ground were now in danger.
I would love to have seen that "shudder". As was confirmed by yesterday's release of selected emails by the State Department, Mrs Clinton did not even know her ambassador's name:
From: H [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 11:38 PM
To: Sullivan, Jacob J; Mills, Cheryl D; Nuland, Victoria J
Subject: Chris Smith
Cheryl told me the Libyans confirmed his death. Should we announce tonight or wait until morning?
"Chris Smith", huh? At least she got the "Chris" right.
I loathe the fakeness of contemporary politics. Presumably those brave souls who battled through to page 323 of Hard Choices did so because they want to get to know "the real Hillary". But instead it's just a more organized version of the fake Hillary - of the lies she improvised into life on the night her friend Chris Wossname sacrificed himself for the illusions of Obama-Clinton foreign policy.
It was apparently Sid Blumenthal, selfless Clinton Foundation charity worker, who emailed HDR22 to pin the Benghazi attack on "a sacrilegious internet video" - and the thought was so appealing to the Secretary of State that it overrode any alternative suggestions she was getting from career diplomats or the heads of the intelligence agencies, assuming any career diplomats or the heads of the intelligence agencies had her email address. So she and Barack went and made a commercial in which they gave the "sacrilegious internet video" two thumbs down, and then they went and lied over the coffins of the dead.
That service at Andrews Air Force Base is the only sacrilegious internet video in the Benghazi story. It was a fiction from start to finish - a heartwarming fairy tale on a patriotic set - but profoundly sacrilegious in its profane violation of something sacred: the homecoming of fallen heroes, two of whom saved dozens of lives by slogging on valiantly through an all-night firefight to die on a rooftop waiting for the cavalry that never came. No matter. They are merely extras - non-speaking parts - in Hillary's fantasy.
Michael Gerson wrote this week:
Does Clinton really have the political skills to pull this off? Her husband was a master of projecting likability, remorse and good intent. She is plausible as a president but mediocre as a candidate. Her silence is often an improvement on her availability. As new controversies come — and that is close to a political certainty — will her polling hold? I have heard significant Democratic donors wonder about this aloud.
But if Clinton succeeds, it would expand the boundaries of the permissible. It would again define deviancy down. Americans would have rewarded, or at least ignored, defiant secrecy and the destruction of documents. Future presidential candidates and campaign advisers would take note. Americans would have rewarded a skate along the ethical boundaries of money and influence. Future donors would see a green light, no matter what candidate Clinton says about campaign finance reform.
A democracy becomes the image of the virtues it rewards.
But, as Mrs Clinton would say, what difference at this point does it make? Both the awful hollow moral void and the accompanying ruthless unyielding discipline were present in those days after Benghazi. She concocted her fiction and then made everyone else live with it. As I said three years ago:
"Aside from anything else, it's a wonderful example of how shriveling and corrupting politics is... I don't care what party this is," Steyn said. "It doesn't matter if they're Republicans, if they're Democrats or the Socialist Workers' Party or the Raving Green Looney Party, if you support that party, you should be ashamed of a shriveled definition of politics, that it consumes even those who you claim are your friends, like Chris Stevens. He's a real person. Sean Smith is a real person. Tyrone Woods is a real person. Glen Doherty — these are real people, not just props in Obama's attempt to swing 1,200 soccer moms in southern Ohio."
It worked for Obama. And, if she succeeds, it will be Mrs Clinton's modus operandi until January 2025.