Since even some conservatives thought that Hillary Clinton won Thursday’s Benghazi hearing, it stands to reason that lefty bloggers would be happy with the way things turned out.
In fact, not all of them waited until the hearing was over. Early in the afternoon, when Clinton still had several hours of testimony before her, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall observed that “Republican committee members just seemed pissed because this was supposed to be awesome…a committee designed to bring down Hillary and circulate all those numskull conspiracy theories about Chris Stevens wearing a chest cam and how President Obama was watching everything happening live on his iPhone. Hillary…looks poised; they're radiating spittle.”
As the hearings rounded third and headed for home, Esquire’s Charles Pierce sniped, “This was a performance piece for the people residing within the conservative media bubble…who already are too smart to be fooled by the Hildebeast and her alleged facts because Mark Levin has told them that they are too smart to be so fooled, and who watch their favorite TV news stars every night, where there is always Another Question, or Another E-Mail, or, for all I know, Another Witness who saw the ghost of Vince Foster wandering through the Mena Airport with Kathleen Willey's cat in his mouth.”
On Friday morning, The Washington Monthly’s Ed Kilgore noted, “Fox News cut away from live coverage of the hearing midday. That was probably about the same time I was doing a radio show wherein I suggested Committee Republicans had decided to serve up ‘soft porn for conservative activists’ instead of presenting anything aimed at persuadable people.” Kilgore added that the hearing “reinforced the impression of a[n] incompetently organized show trial…Not that many years from now, the Benghazi! investigation will be viewed like its very similar predecessor, the Whitewater investigation: an expensive failure whose details are hard to remember.”
Some bloggers found the Republican side’s interest in Sidney Blumenthal a serious misstep. Paul Waldman of The Week declared that the “ridiculously lengthy discussion about Blumenthal” demonstrated that GOPers are “stuck in their own bubble, unable to see what things might look like from outside it…This is what happens when you start an investigation that you're sure will uncover evidence of nefarious goings-on. When you can't find any malfeasance, you convince yourself that even mundane things are nefarious, like the fact that Hillary Clinton has a friend you don't like.”
The New Republic’s Jeet Heer posited that the abundance of Sid stuff was intended not for the “general public” but rather only for “hardcore partisans” on the right, explaining that “Blumenthal was a hot topic…not because he had anything to do with the attacks but because he’s a convenient villain…[He] fits the convenient conspiratorial archetype that is often given to supposedly sinister presidential advisors. Harry Hopkins, the Commerce Secretary from 1938 to 1940 who organized many New Deal programs, occupied a similar role during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Even more fancifully, Bill Ayers has been made into a lurid devil figure in the biography of President Obama.”
In the what-it-all-means category, Slate’s William Saletan stated that “the committee did its job. It clarified the truth about Benghazi: Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong. And Republicans can’t stand it.” And, late Thursday night, The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky waxed nostalgic:
[T]his committee... Americans should be enraged by it. I am, but today, watching this, I’ve mostly been feeling sad. I actually grew up kind of believing in these people. I remember being 14, 15 [in the mid-1970s], when my sister worked in the Rayburn House Office Building, how thrilling it was to go to the office where she worked, to walk down those halls, peek into those grand hearing rooms, think about all that history. It’s so debased now by these people, it makes me ashamed. I bet Hillary needs a drink. Well, I do too.