So many times during Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week before Congress, I wanted to place one hand on the shoulder of every teenage girl in America, point at the TV screen with the other hand and whisper:
This. This is how it’s done.
Secretary of State Clinton showed up to answer tough and sometimes ridiculous questions regarding the deadly September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. In the process, she offered a tutorial for today’s young women.
1) When a man asks you a question and then refuses to look at you as you answer, just keep going. Don’t let his rudeness silence you.
2) When he interrupts you, return the favor.
3) When he says things you know are not true, correct him. Repeatedly.
4) When he attempts to bully you, mow him down with facts.
5) And whenever possible, smile. Nothing rattles an angry man like a woman who looks happy to annoy him.
Pundits have launched another round of debate over everything Hillary.
After her Senate hearing, Politico posted a gallery of her facial expressions. The Huffington Post ran a photo caption contest.
When Clinton’s voice broke as she described meeting with families of the four diplomats who died, the coverage echoed the second-guessing of an emotional moment during the 2008 New Hampshire primary.
Did she choke up (ABC News) or tear up (Bloomberg News)? Or was she merely “close to tears” (The Daily Beast)? Or was she “tear-syncing” (Michelle Malkin)?
Here’s what she said in that emotional moment: “For me, this is not just a matter of policy; it’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children.”
Clinton pushed back on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s rant full of accusations and interruptions over the State Department’s initial report that the Benghazi attack was a reaction to an anti- Islam YouTube video. Various accounts described her response as “wrangling,” “testy,” “erupting” and “blowing up.”
An excerpt of their exchange:
Johnson: “But, Madam Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? I mean, that was a piece of information that could’ve been easily, easily obtained—”
Clinton: “Well, but, Senator, again—”
Johnson: “—within hours, if not days.”
Clinton: “Senator, you know, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, No. 1—”
Johnson: “I realize that’s a good excuse.”
Clinton: “Well, no, it’s the fact. No. 2: I would recommend highly you read both what the (Accountability Review Board) said about it and the classified ARB, because even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists; they were militants; they attacked us; they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown—”
Johnson: “No, again, we were misled…”
Clinton: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
Dear God, if that’s an eruption, make me a volcano.
One last thing: A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that Clinton has the highest approval ratings of her long public life. Interestingly, 67 percent of Americans like her, whereas only 19 percent said they approve of the job Congress is doing.
That, young ladies, is Hillary for the win.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine.