July 15th, 2014

One more thing about that famous Hillary Clinton quote “What difference at this point does it make?”

The question Hillary Clinton asked during the Benghazi hearings has become famous, and famously mocked.

But people have been so focused on the blase attitude it shows that they rarely comment on the fact that embedded in it is a false choice. This has bothered me for a long time, so I want to set the record straight.

Not that it makes any difference at this point.

But here’s the quote:

With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

So, was it “because of a protest”? Or was it some random chaotic act “because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans”?

Well, how about: “Neither, Hillary, and what’s more, you know it was neither. Both suggestions are absurd. It actually was a group of organized terrorists who planned an attack, and succeeded in killing not just ‘some’ random Americans, but the ambassador and three protectors.”

I’ve long wondered why that part of the quote has been pretty much ignored.

30 Responses to “One more thing about that famous Hillary Clinton quote “What difference at this point does it make?””

  1. Cornhead Says:

    She should be disqualified from office for that reason.

    But we need a smoking gun to get her out: like a stand down order to the military.

  2. Don Carlos Says:

    I would suggest that the fact so many joke about “What difference does it make?” is that your point is already well understood, Neo. We drift toward Stalinist-era dodges as safety mechanisms, and quoting a member of our Politburo is safe, and effective. The irony is lost on no one.

  3. Eric Says:

    The underlying premises and frame of an issue matter at least as much and often matter more in obvious and nuanced ways as and than the facial issue itself.

    The contest to set the dominant frame is an up-front activist essential that, once won, shapes the subsequent course of social discourse, thought, and action on an issue.

  4. Matt_SE Says:

    A valid point, but one for the history books.
    If Hillary! is discredited solely on the basis of her petulance, that’s good enough for me.

  5. Bill West Says:

    You write: “I’ve long wondered why that part of the quote has been pretty much ignored.”

    Really? Ignoring the failures of this administration has required all of the creative power of the mainstream press and most commentators.

  6. T Says:


    “She should be disqualified from office for that reason.”

    Not just for that, but do you remember the image of her cowering when the demonstrator threw a shoe at her?

    Bush moved out of the way and kind-of ducked, but Hillary cowered because of an airborne shoe.

    A prospective leader of the free world? No, just the wife of Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend.

  7. Cornhead Says:

    And here in flyover country, I doubt voters want more drama and sexual dysfunction in the White House.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill West:

    Actually, I meant I’ve wondered why it was ignored by those criticizing Hillary’s statement. They all seemed to focus on the “what difference does it make?” part and ignore the rest.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    It was because Benghazi and Qatar were the route to selling arms to the Libyan rebels, which also meant AQ, that this fight happened.

    And there’s additional intel that the State Department intentionally stripped the Ambassador’s security detail.

    It’s ignored because it’s irrelevantly complex, I would say.

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    They all seemed to focus on the “what difference does it make?” part and ignore the rest.

    It’s usually not worth arguing about, because it’s like when China talks about voting in American elections and what difference it would make if they voted Republican or Democrat….

    it doesn’t matter, because they can’t vote to begin with, so addressing it is going on one’s own red herring.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    History tends to remember the emotional parts of speech, not the context or the pre front load.

    For example, Marie Antoinette made the suggestion “Why don’t they eat cake” when it was reported that a different kind of bread made from different material to cake, was out of stock and thus causing starvation. Of course the problem wasn’t the lack of a few materials, it was the lack of any food materials due to logistical and economic collapse. But that’s never actually contained in the quote itself.

  12. waitforit Says:

    Yes. Seriously. Guys out for a walk.

    Guys? Out for a walk?

    And let’s just kill someone?

    I forgot how awful that whole statement was and how incredibly inane it was.

    In fact, it’s worse than inane. The “guys out for a walk” sounds like she is really thinking about some American we can blame for terrorism like, say, Timothy McVeigh who was used so effectively by the Clintons. I’ll bet that was on her mind when she said “guys out for a walk who decided they’d go kill some Americans.”

    Where are Americans if not in America. And on TWA Flight 800?

  13. Lizzy Says:

    I think that part of the statement was dropped because Hillary supporters/the Left were more interested in her righteous anger at being questioned about this.

    We joke about “What difference does it make?” but this was an applause line directed at the Left, and they bought it. To include the rest detracts from its sting.

  14. The Clankster Says:

    Two false choices. She was trying to bamboozle the masses and it worked. It’s like saying; “If they flew the planes into the World Trade Center either because their compasses were off or because they got carried away during a thrill ride – what difference does it make at this point.”

  15. Ann Says:

    Hillary uttered those infamous words in an exchange with Senator Ron Johnson. He was doing a good job of asking hard-hitting questions when she responded with that and quite a bit more. Johnson didn’t at that point offer the fine rebuttal Neo offered above, but instead she was allowed to run out the clock on his allotted time. Here’s the video; it’s worth a watch.

    A pity he didn’t interrupt her, as she had just done previously to him. That might have given more play to this particular aspect of her spiel. That whole spiel, by the way, looks well rehearsed to me.

    Makes me shudder to think of her as president.

  16. nyght Says:

    You know, I’ve always wondered why no one hops onto the part of the quote directly after the “What difference…” bit. It’s the most damning part of the entire thing to me (emphasis mine):

    With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night who decide to 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.

    One would think that in order to “figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again”, it might be relevant to figure out WHY they did it in the first place.

    I mean, is that not a direct contradiction from one sentence to the next? I was kind of dumbstruck when I heard the interview the first time, and it was because of the sentence following the “what difference” thing, but everyone just hopped onto the “what difference” bit, and ignored everything else.

  17. Bill West Says:


    By focusing on the “what difference” part and ignoring the false choice (an Obama favorite BTW), I now see that I might have been caught in a clever bit of misdirection.

    Got it. Thanks.

  18. Cornhead Says:

    Repeat after me: Hillary Clinton must be defeated.

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, I remember wondering about that, too, at the time. What other definition could there be of “figure out what happened?” than that it DID make a difference who did it and why and how?

    Her entire comment made no sense at all. And yet her feisty tone was made much of by the left. A good example of emotion over logic. Unfortunately, it often works.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Most people don’t know how to react when hit by an emotional barrage, verbal violence, or physical violence. They freeze. Then it’s game over, the Left wins, and you’re still frozen. That’s their SOP.

  21. M J R Says:

    When Ms. Hillary! unloaded that stupid (but effective, given the audience) remark, my own reaction was to flash back to that picture of Hillary! beaming as she waved a copy of a newspaper whose page 1 headline blared “BUSH KNEW”.

    Sure made a difference long after that fact, didn’t it?

    *Lord*, I detest her and her minions . . .

  22. J.J. Says:

    T: “A prospective leader of the free world? No, just the wife of Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend.”

    So true! Her only real claim to fame. Grading of her job as Senator and SOS = D-. And I’m being very generous.

  23. Tammy Says:

    Hillary wasn’t asking a question, please, she was making a statement on the absurdity of hearings. Please read reality for what it is rather than what you wish it to be.

  24. Ymarsakar Says:

    Exactly, Tammy, which is why beating her in the face with her words is so much of just desserts.

  25. neo-neocon Says:


    I’m reading her words for their meaning, not what apologists might rationalize that they mean.

    And of course, hearings are only absurd if they’re investigating Democrats. When investigating Republicans they’re extremely meaningful and important.

  26. T Says:

    As an interesting sidebar to this discussion, see the link for Barry Goldwater’s acceptance speech from 1964 (50th anniversary today). It is truly amazing and prompts the question: “Just what the Hell has happened to the Republican party?”

    Also Ann Althouse has a short list of her choices for Goldwater’s 10 best takeaway lines.

    Goldwater Acceptance speech:


    Althouse (scroll down, posted @ 10:21 AM):


  27. J.J. Says:

    T “Just what the Hell has happened to the Republican party?”

    In spite of his clear, muscular vision of freedom and small government, Barry was defeated in a landslide. Except for Reagan, no Republican has been willing/able to delineate such a muscular, no-nonsense vision of the way forward. Any Republican who tries it is demonized as a war monger, cowboy, enemy of the people, etc. Only charisma, such as Reagan had, can overcome those strawman attacks. It is a war of ideologies with the progs possessing the greater firepower as represented by the MSM. Most Republicans fear that weapon.

  28. neo-neocon Says:


    Goldwater was somewhat of an anomaly in the Republican Party even in 1964, when he was nominated. The RINO/Conservative divided existed then, very similar to today. See this.

  29. Ymarsakar Says:

    Just what the Hell has happened to the Republican party?

    The Republican party failed to carry through the strategic objectives of Civil War I. So eventually, Civil War II will result, and the Republican party has been split for a rather long time now.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    What other definition could there be of “figure out what happened?”

    She meant that you’ll figure out what happened in Benghazi once the State Department gets good and ready to tell you what happened there. You’ll find out what’s in it, after it has passed muster under HRC’s pen.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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