William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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MAYBE THIS IS WHY SHE HAS A HEADACHE – AT 8:55 A.M. ET:  The State Department's report on the Benghazi raid, which killed our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, has been released.  It is far more damning than expected, and appears to be an honest job. 

Inevitably, attention turns to the impact the report could have on Hillary Clinton, who may run for president in 2016.  She has declined to testify before Congress on Benghazi this week, citing a concussion sustained during a fainting spell.  There have been some cynical responses to that claim, but we have no evidence that it's either true or untrue.  From The Hill:

The Benghazi report released Tuesday night bemoans “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” in Hillary Clinton's State Department that could come back to haunt her should she run for president in 2016.

Clinton remains one of the nation's most popular politicians and has worked tirelessly to improve America's image abroad following President George W. Bush's tenure. The independent review of the Sept. 11 attack, however, tarnishes that legacy by faulting the department for failing to put in place a coordinated approach for handling security, even if it does not single anyone out for disciplinary action.

“The Board found that certain senior State Department officials ... in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability appropriate for the State Department’s senior ranks,” the report concludes in its section on accountability of personnel.

The terrorist attack on the U.S. mission that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans became a rallying cry for conservative critics of President Obama's national security policies during the presidential campaign. The attack has already claimed one political scalp, with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice dropping out of contention for the secretary of State job in the face of intense Republican criticism after she initially linked the Benghazi attack to a peaceful protest gone awry.

COMMENT:  In many other countries, that report would immediately prompt resignations.  We don't have the tradition of honorable resignations, as does Britain.  Hillary will remain on until she resigns, something expected within weeks.  She will leave with praise lavished on her by Obama.

But her legacy is indeed tarnished, if not ruined.  People have died.

I hate to sound cynical, but I'm sure President Obama is somewhat pleased by the report, and its possible effect on his secretary of state.  He surely could not look forward to the prospect of Hillary succeeding him as president, for she would outshine him.  With all her faults, and the list is long, she is far more effective than Barack Obama has ever been.  Now, though, she has this shadow hanging over her.

Watch the name game start over possible other Dems for the national ticket in 2016.  Andrew Cuomo of New York is on the list.  If Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, an African-American, replaces John Kerry in the U.S. Senate, assuming Kerry is named to be the new secretary of state, Patrick becomes a contender.  And there are Dems crazy enough to start a boomlet for Elizabeth Warren.

Hillary has been the 900-pound gorilla in the room.  The gorilla just lost weight.

December 19,  2012