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Five takes on 11 hours of Benghazi

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Thursday’s marathon hearing in Congress on the Benghazi attacks was almost like an eleven hour political advertisement for or against Hillary Clinton – depending on your party affiliation – as the former Secretary of State sparred with Republicans about her work before the Benghazi attacks in 2012, and whether she had done enough to protect American diplomats serving in Libya.

Here are some quick takes from the U.S. Capitol:

1. Democrats feel Clinton was the winner

Social media has become a good indicator of political reaction, and that was true with this Benghazi hearing. Democratic lawmakers in Congress rushed to Twitter to salute Clinton, while Republicans were almost totally silent about the hearing. It was probably a solid barometer of what happened in the previous eleven hours.

2. There was no ‘smoking gun’ for the GOP

One Republican on the committee had told me before the hearing began that there would be no bombshells – and he was right. While Republicans certainly turned over some new facts about Benghazi and the reaction of the State Department, there was no memo or email that directly linked Hillary Clinton to a request for more security resources in Benghazi, no email from the U.S. Ambassador to Clinton or her staff about that issue.

3. Democrats seize on postgame GOP reaction

Instead of going to the microphones to take questions from reporters, Hillary Clinton let her testimony do the talking, indicating that she felt confident about the day’s events. Meanwhile, a short stop by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) seemed to raise questions, with one of his answers to reporters ricocheting its way onto the internet.

4. There wasn’t much about the emails

It was only in the last hour of the hearing that Republicans started to explore the question of Hillary Clinton’s unusual email setup, which was accidentally uncovered by the Benghazi panel. While Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) told Clinton that it “doesn’t smell right,” GOP lawmakers clearly had decided not to focus on that issue – even though it has caused Clinton a lot of problems in recent months on the campaign trail.

5. Sometimes funny moments are partisan

Often we talk about how Democrats and Republicans in this country see many issues in a totally different light, and that was true at one point during this hearing, when Hillary Clinton was asked by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) what Clinton did to find out more information while she was at home on the night of the Benghazi attacks.

“I was alone,” Clinton said.

“The whole night?” asked Roby.

“Well, yes, the whole night,” Clinton said, immediately breaking into a big laugh.

Roby seemed stunned.

“I don’t know why that’s funny,” the Alabama Republican said with a frown.


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