Recently, however, she delivered a major signal that she may not be a candidate for high office: When asked about a politically sensitive topic, she replied with complete candor.
While complete candor does not automatically disqualify one from running for president, neither does it help.
The sensitive topic was the tragic death of four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, in Benghazi last September.
No, strike that. The sensitive topic was the lunkheaded and futile rehashing of the “talking points” made by members of the Obama administration following the attacks.
Was the attack in Benghazi triggered by demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world or by local terrorism? And who changed what clauses in the talking points?
And who the hell cares?
On Jan. 23, Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a tea party darling, wanted to talk about the talking points.
“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that,” Johnson said, “and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days, and they didn’t know that.”
Clinton, a former senator and former secretary of state, knows how to put up with guff. But she figured the American people had put up with enough guff when it came to Benghazi.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she replied. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d 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.”
Exactly. Precisely. And, as I said, a fine example of candor in a place — Congress — where candor usually dies of loneliness.
So what happens? Here is John McCain this Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” finding some way to blame Clinton for something to do with Benghazi.
“She had to have been in the loop some way, but we don’t know for sure,” McCain said. “What I do know is that her response before the Foreign Relations Committee — ‘Who cares?’ Remember when she said, ‘Well, who cares how this happened?’ in a rather emotional way?”
Keep in mind that John McCain has done more Sunday talk shows than you have had hot meals. He knows what he is going to say. He has an entire staff to prepare talking points for him.
But on Sunday, he seriously misquoted Clinton. She said, “What difference at this point does it make?” regarding the inciting incident for the killing of the four men. “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”
But McCain change her response to: “Who cares? Remember when she said, ‘Well, who cares how this happened?’ in a rather emotional way?”
This is not only a falsehood and a smear, but a sexist falsehood and smear. McCain is attempting to lay the groundwork that Hillary is too “emotional” to be president because we all know women are often too emotional, aren’t they?
Except for the coolly rational Sarah Palin, that is, whom McCain still insists was ready from day one to become president of the United States and commander in chief.
On Monday, President Obama said at a press conference: “The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow. There’s no there there.”
“We dishonor (the Benghazi dead) when we turn things like this into a political circus,” he concluded.
If Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, everything she did or did not do during her career will be fair game, including sideshows, circuses and whether there is any there there.
But is that what she really wants? Or is she just a little tired of the whole, sad game? As I said, I am currently agnostic on the matter. And I think she is, too.
Roger Simon is editor of Politico.