Late Monday afternoon, Elise Labott of CNN reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had told her that she “takes responsibility” for security problems at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the murder of our ambassador and three other Americans. Clinton, who is hiding out in Peru while this blows over, took to the microphone to throw herself on the sword. She said “the buck stopped with her” when it came to the embassy, according to Labott. Labott further reported that Clinton stated, “she didn’t want to play any kind of blame game or political gotcha. She understands that the election is coming up and everyone wants to politicize this … She wants to wait for an investigation.” According to Labott, however, Clinton also blamed Congress, as well as other members of government.

Hillary is clearly playing the good soldier on the eve of the crucial second presidential debate between her boss, President Obama, and challenger Mitt Romney. After Vice President Joe Biden threw Clinton under the bus during the vice presidential debate, stating that neither he nor President Obama knew anything about the security situation in Benghazi, Hillary stepped out to the front to take the hit.

There’s a dual purpose for this sudden mea culpa. The first is obvious: Obama wants to end all speculation about his role in the Libyan disaster, and Hillary believes that she can take the hit and keep on trucking due to her personal popularity. The second is more subtle: Obama is losing the female vote now – Romney’s running just a point behind Obama among female likely voters according to Gallup – and he figures he can kill two birds with one stone if he can get Republicans to attack Hillary Clinton, the most popular female politician in the country, over Libya.

If Secretary of State Clinton was responsible for the security situation in Benghazi – as, indeed, we argued she was on the day after the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens – here’s the question, however: was she acting outside the scope of her duties when she failed to provide the ambassador the security he requested? Or was she following the orders of a President who has always attempted to avoid making waves in the Middle East, and saw a strong security presence as a show of force?

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