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You can say, “Bad things happen.” When they do happen, be ready to respond with character. Critics said Hillary Clinton might have prevented the Benghazi attacks, if she had acted promptly on recommendations to strengthen security at the American consulate there. Perhaps, but hindsight is not twenty-twenty here. We don’t know what might have prevented those attacks. More security might have meant that the people who planned the attacks would deploy more sophisticated weaponry, or more people.

A bad thing about the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath is that Clinton appeared to lie low after they took place. Recent email disclosures indicate she was huddling with – Sid Blumenthal! He’s not the first person I would turn to for foreign policy advice, but the Clintons, like Obama, do like to keep their friends close by. We know Hillary Clinton didn’t have a good working relationship with President Obama, but still, don’t you think the two of them could overcome their awkward relationship after an attack where four of our people die?

Clinton’s email record does not show positive leadership from either the president or the secretary of state on the matter. Neither does the public record. What you read again and again about the Benghazi attacks is that the White House kept spinning the yarn that the attacks grew out of protests over The Innocence of Muslims, a YouTube video that insults Islam. The government’s own intelligence disproved that story quickly enough, but the administration stuck with it long after it lost its credibility.

Clinton’s credibility suffered just as much as the president’s, but as a loyal cabinet member, she took the hit in public. You saw no gratitude from the president, then or later, for Clinton’s willingness to shield Obama from Republican propellers that produced a continuous spray of high-speed mud. In fact, Obama hatchet woman Valerie Jarrett and the president himself appear to be behind the anti-Clinton leaks that have kept her bathing in such poor press the last several weeks.

Obama adviser behind leak of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal

Hillary Clinton and Valerie Jarrett.

Susan Rice faces the nation. Kevin Drum argues Susan Rice chose her words carefully. Perhaps, but she did not acknowledge down the line that the CIA’s “best information” distracted listeners from the truth, nor did she acknowledge that the CIA had strong motivation to do so.

Instead of telling his secretary of state to go out and tell the truth, or something close to the truth, the president sends out Susan Rice, UN ambassador, to do the Sunday morning talk shows. Susan Rice pointed the press toward the anti-video demonstrators story. Did she volunteer for the job? Did Secretary Clinton decide she ought to sit backstage on this one? It’s not a fair question, because if she’s known for anything, she’s known for her hard, diligent work. She stayed in the background after the attacks not because she’s lazy, but because… we never found out why. She never hinted at her reason. She does try to avoid situations that make her look bad. Nevertheless, with good leadership from her in this case, she could have looked a lot better than she did.

The maddening thing, for her and for us, is that the CIA won again. Clinton could not speak forthrightly about the embassy attack, because a little way down the road a CIA safe house also came under attack. The Republicans keep coming after her, and provoke her to an angry retort: “What difference at this point does it make!?” No wonder she’s angry. She wants to explain, but the explanation is classified. The national security state has our civil servants hamstrung again. Notice that no one in the administration cares to cut her down.

Given that this issue will not go away, and that it might cost her the presidency, she might have said, “Screw the CIA, screw Susan Rice, and screw even the president. I have to lead on this matter, and I’ll say what I need to say.” Hindsight on that score is not twenty-twenty, either. We don’t know if she could salvage anything from a bad situation. We do know that, no matter how bad Chappaquiddick was for Ted Kennedy, he made it worse by leaving the accident and holing up for half a day. For Benghazi, Clinton holed up for a lot longer than that, while the administration floundered to get its unconvincing story in order. You’ll notice that to this day, the story does not include the CIA safe house.