There are two ways to interview potential presidents. You can pepper them with tough questions, and why not? They're going to apply for the job of Leader of the Free World. Hillary Clinton is used to the other way: Shameless pap. Softballs to be knocked out of the park.
She has been a media darling since forever. This is a typical soft pitch offered to Clinton on national television. It came just the other day: "Mitch McConnell said at one point that 2016 will be the return of 'The Golden Girls.'"
This was designed to make the Senate Republican leader look like a jerk and allowed Clinton to shoot back, "That was a very popular, long-running TV series." Cue laughter. This softball interviewer, like every other, pushed Clinton to announce her candidacy for president and pampered her with grandmother questions.
But then came a shocker, something thoroughly unexpected, a tough TV interview honing in on Benghazi, Libya: "Is there anything you personally should have been doing to make it safer in Benghazi?" Clinton arrogantly replied: "I'm not equipped to sit and look at blueprints to determine where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements need to be. That's why we hire people who have that expertise."
But no one asked Clinton to be an architect. They expected her to approve greater security for diplomatic facilities in dangerous countries, which Libya quite obviously was. Instead, security funding for Libya's diplomats actually decreased. The questioner didn't let Clinton get away with her notion that Libya wasn't one of the 10 most dangerous locations in the world.
The tough interviewer wanted an admission of some guilt. "I wonder if people are looking for a sentence that begins from you, 'I should have, I should have.' We saw your face on that tarmac (at Andrews Air Force Base, when the caskets arrived). Something that said, 'I should have done this differently. I would give anything on this Earth to personally, if I have -- could have done this differently.'"
Clinton said she wished it had never happened, but fell into self-contradiction: "I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions." The interviewer had succeeded in unmasking the haughtiness of this woman.
The answers were worse when the tough interviewer asked Clinton about her $250,000 speaking gigs. "It has been reported you've made $5 million making speeches. The president's made more than $100 million." The statement was simple, direct -- and something the former first lady didn't expect.
"You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt," Clinton blustered. "We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education, you know, it was not easy."
Nonsense. More than a month before Bill Clinton left office, Hillary signed one of the largest book deals in history, with a near-record advance of $8 million. People might not remember because it was downplayed. The New York Times put that scoop on Page B-5.
The softball interviewer in this scenario was ABC's Diane Sawyer. That's no surprise. But the hardball interviewer was also Diane Sawyer. This may be one of the first TV interviews that ever flustered Hillary Clinton. How could she come unprepared for Benghazi hardballs or look unready to defend her huge speaking fees? She has been pampered by the press for far too long.