David Brooks: Hillary Clinton Not to Blame for Benghazi Attack Outcome

On Friday's airing of PBS's "NewsHour," New York Times columnist David Brooks downplayed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's role in the tragic outcome of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

Partial transcript as follows:

GWEN IFILL, host: So, if it could have been prevented, whose fault it that it wasn't, David?

BROOKS: Yes. Not Hillary Clinton's, to be fair. The political bottom line of this...

IFILL: She was secretary of state, State Department.

BROOKS: Yes. No, but this is an operational matter. You are not expecting the secretary -- in my view, to be fair, the secretary of state is not in charge of something this, frankly, low-level, this operational. She's in charge of the larger policy agenda. So I do not think -- if you want the political bottom line, it will be a talking point in the campaign, I'm sure. Whether it will be an effective one, I'm extremely dubious of that.

IFILL: This wasn't the end of this discussion?

BROOKS: Right. Well, I think it was closer to the end than the beginning. I think we're getting toward the end of the whole Benghazi...

RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post columnist: I think we're getting to the end of endlessly debating the talking points and word changes in the talking points. I don't think, for the obvious reasons, that we're getting to the end of the Hillary -- "Was Hillary Clinton responsible?" debate, though I agree with everything that David said about what the role of a secretary of state is. It's not to figure out what the security posture of an outpost is.

IFILL: But how much of the keeping this alive, just politically, is about keeping a weapon to wield against Hillary Clinton? We saw TIME magazine this week had her on the cover, or at least a leg that looked like her on the cover, and the title was, "Can Anyone Stop Hillary?" Obviously, Benghazi is one of reasons -- things they want to use to stop her.

BROOKS: Have we ever met a voter who is going to vote on Benghazi? No, I really don't think so. I mean, it is an issue. It is a thing. If she's going to be stopped in the primaries, it's going to be because there is a challenge from the left, which I think is a very plausible 20 percent possibility. And if she is going to be stopped in the general election, it is just because of health care. So, you know, it's always important when you think about elections, just picture on -- the two or three big issues. And this ain't one of them.

MARCUS: And the people who are going to rail about Hillary Clinton and dereliction of duty in Benghazi, they're not her voters anyway.

IFILL: And not only that, but we remember President Giuliani may have been on the cover of a couple of these magazines a couple of years ago.

BROOKS: Also in high heels.

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