Debate Club

Public's Short Memory Will Temper Benghazi's Effect on Clinton


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's overall legacy will not be tarnished by the Benghazi attacks. She has a long and reputable political career, a high approval rating, and strong popularity with Democrats. Not to mention, she continues to be held in high esteem by many of her former Senate GOP colleagues.

However, Benghazi reveals that Clinton's management skills are not flawless. The Accountability Review Report found systematic failures of leadership within senior levels of two bureaus of the State Department: failures that resulted in inadequate special mission security in Libya.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Middle East.]

It is fair to evaluate Clinton's management performance; accountability is a key part of a healthy democratic system. Clinton owns the ultimate responsibility for the decisions of her senior managers. U.S. diplomatic performance in Libya was critical to helping the country transition to a stable government. Clinton and President Obama should have put more resources in place to ensure success. There were opportunities leading up to the attack to pro-actively improve security, but these were missed. Moving forward the State Department must re-engineer to improve its organizational effectiveness.

Should she decide to run, any blow back from Benghazi will have the most effect on Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. All's fair in love and politics. Her opposition will certainly use it as a means to attack her electability, but how effective these attacks will be will must tempered by the public's lack of knowledge on foreign affairs and its short memory. At the very least, the GOP will be able to use it to mobilize its base.

Jamie Chandler

About Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College

Clinton, Hillary

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