Wednesday didn’t start out badly for Sen. Ronald H. Johnson.

Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin who was elected in 2010, drew national headlines — and praise from conservatives — for pushing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the origins of the Sept. 11 attack on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya. At a hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton choked upwhen discussing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who died that day.

Then, in an interview after the hearing, Johnson suggested that Clinton’s emotional moments were just a tactic to avoid tough questioning.

“I think she just decided . . . she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, the heroes, and use that as her trump card to get out of the questions,” Johnson told BuzzFeed. “It was a good way of getting out of really having to respond to me.”

Oh no, he didn’t! It’s one thing to disagree about whether the gen­esis of the Benghazi attack is critical to understanding how to prevent future assaults. It’s another entirely to insinuate that Clinton cried on command, faking tears to avoid facing the music.

Johnson, sensing he had gotten too far out over his skis, eased back on Thursday. “Maybe I shouldn’t have speculated” about the reasons for Clinton’s emotions, he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “I probably speculated, and I shouldn’t have.”


To quote myself at 10 years old: No duh.

Ron Johnson, for forgetting that questioning someone’s motives is always a losing strategy, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.


Chris Cillizza is a political reporter for The Washington Post. Email to [email protected]

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