As the New York Times is reporting today, “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday night that she took ‘responsibility’ for the failure to successfully defend against the Sept. 11 attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. ‘I take responsibility,’ she said in an interview with CNN.”
The move is widely being interpreted, naturally, in light of the presidential campaign, as Secretary Clinton offering to take the fall for the blossoming political scandal over the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other American officials in Benghazi last month, to take some pressure off of President Obama.
It is not publicly known (yet) whether Clinton’s move was coordinated by, or with, the White House, or the Obama reelection campaign.
The gambit reminded me, however, of something I read years ago while researching Cold War policies, in a transcript of a 1946 press conference by President Harry Truman.
Q. Mr. President, do you support the State Department’s policy that the United States should–
THE PRESIDENT. The State Department doesn’t have a policy unless I support it. [Laughter] finish your question–I’m sorry.
Q. I mean with regard to the inter-American defense treaty, that we will not sign it if Argentina–
THE PRESIDENT. I don’t know anything about any preliminary decision, or whether it will be signed or won’t be signed, but whatever policy the State Department has, I will support it, or it won’t be a policy. The State Department carries out the policies that are laid down by the President of the United States.
Some might note a contrast in leadership approaches.
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