Welcome to RedMom-Bluestate.org, featuring commentary by conservative columnist and Massachusetts resident, Jennifer C. Braceras. In addition to an archive of Jennifer’s published articles, this site contains occasional blog posts, a recommended reading list, Jennifer’s favorite political cartoons, and links to some of the best political commentary on the web.
People died, Hillary lied — but not to Chelsea
So what did we learn Thursday from the House Benghazi Committee’s 11-hour question-and-answer session with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
Did the Committee unearth any significant information about what actually happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, when terrorists killed four Americans (including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and Winchester native Glen Doherty)?
It certainly did.
Congressional investigators have for years asked Clinton when she first learned that the attack on our Benghazi consulate was the work of terrorists. At Thursday’s hearing, we learned that she knew this almost immediately.
In fact, we learned that, within hours of the attack, Clinton used her private server to email her daughter Chelsea — who did not work for the government and does not have a top secret security clearance — to tell her that the attack on American personnel was pre-planned and carried out by Al Qaeda.
Why is this important?
Because it contradicts what Clinton told the American people and State Department employees both before and after she contacted her daughter: that the incident was the spontaneous response of Islamic youth to “inflammatory material posted on the internet.”
This was, of course, a boldfaced lie. The attack, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, was not (as Clinton suggested) committed by an angry mob that had gathered to protest a random YouTube video. In fact, there was no angry mob.
And Clinton knew it. That’s why in a Sept. 12 conversation with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Clinton admitted, “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
Nevertheless, on Sept. 14, as the bodies were unloaded at Andrews Air Force base, Clinton continued to perpetuate the YouTube myth — blaming the “tyranny of a mob” enraged by “an awful internet video.”
Why did she do this? Only she knows for sure, but it is reasonable to assume that she did this in order to shield her boss, President Obama, from potential political fallout from a 9/11 terrorist-led attack on American personnel just weeks before the 2012 presidential election.
Clinton now blames her contradictory statements on confusion caused by the “fog of war.” But, as we learned Thursday, she wasn’t at all confused when she spoke with her daughter or with the Egyptian Prime Minister. Nor was she confused when she crafted her oh-so lawyerly public statements about the incident. Yet, she continues to claim confusion when asked about her contradictory statements.
Although Clinton’s testimony did not shed light on what Ambassador Stevens was doing in Benghazi the night he was killed — or whether, as CNN and other news outlets have suggested, he was part of a covert American attempt to arm the Syrian rebels — her demeanor during this line of questioning raises important questions.
When confronted by Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo (my law school classmate), with an email from a state department aide suggesting that the U.S. government use “private contractors” to arm the rebels, Clinton seemed uncharacteristically nervous and paused uncomfortably before claiming the idea was never considered “seriously.”
Thursday’s hearing confirmed not only that Hillary Clinton is willing to lie to the American people for political expediency, but also that she is contemptuous of Republicans and disrespectful of Congress.
Despite attempts to look presidential and above the fray, Clinton came across as disdainful and impatient. She rolled her eyes, let out exasperated sighs, and often looked visibly bored or annoyed.
In one response that was simultaneously self-promoting and condescending, Clinton snapped, “I wrote a whole chapter about this in my book, Hard Choices. I’d be glad to send it to you, Congressman.”
But most importantly, we learned that Clintonism works: that if you hedge and stonewall and withhold relevant documents for years on end, then when the truth finally emerges (as it began to on Thursday), the public will write it off as “old news” or some sort of partisan witch hunt.
Tiger mom shows culture counts
Are you Jewish, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian, Mormon, or a Cuban exile?
Yes, Amy Chua, aka “Tiger Mom,” is back.
And once again, she is embroiled in controversy.
Three years ago, the Yale Law professor set the parenting world on fire with “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” her memoir of raising children “the Chinese way.” Excerpted in The Wall Street Journal under the provocative headline, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” “Battle Hymn” was a personal, and generally positive, reflection on the strict parenting style of many Chinese parents, including Chua.
In “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America” (due out in February), Chua and her husband, fellow Yale professor Jed Rubenfeld, single out Jews, Chinese, Indians, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Mormons, and Cuban exiles as groups that have achieved significant success in the United States, as measured by income, occupational status, test scores, etc.
• a superiority complex;
• and impulse control.
What does this mean?
The authors argue that, generally speaking, members of these groups regard their culture as exceptional. Accurate or not, group members often believe that their culture’s values, resilience, and/or lineage are special. They believe that they have an obligation to maintain this exceptionalism, and that failure discredits the group.
Chua and Rubenfeld’s critics argue that this so-called superiority complex is fundamentally at odds with the second common trait the authors identify: insecurity.
And, yet, it is not. The superiority complex refers to a person’s beliefs about his specific culture, whereas, insecurity refers to a person’s feelings about his own ability to live up to group expectations.
In addition to personal insecurity, many members of highly successful sociological groups remain insecure about their place in America — about factors beyond their control, such as the economy, racism, or religious bigotry. Yet, members of the eight groups identified by Chua and Rubenfeld are driven by their superiority complex to work harder than members of other groups to overcome such challenges (real or imagined) in order to maintain group honor.
Which brings us to impulse control, or as Chua explains, the ability to resist the temptation to take one’s eye off the prize or to give up in the face of hardship.
The authors believe that impulse control, or self-discipline, is not something derived from within the individual; rather, it is a culturally enforced norm.
Although critics argue that “Triple Package” relies too heavily on anecdotal evidence, they, ironically, attempt to prove the authors wrong with a silly anecdote of their own: the African-American Barack Obama defeating the Mormon Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. (Apparently, these critics fail to understand, as Chua and Rubenfeld do, that Romney’s financial and occupational successes support, rather than detract from, the “triple package” theory).
Where “Battle Hymn” sent millions of angst-ridden “Western” mothers into a collective frenzy of self-doubt and defensiveness, “Triple Package” has been attacked as “cringe-worthy” and outright “racist.”
And yet, those who attack Chua and Rubenfeld gloss over — or ignore altogether — their central thesis: That certain groups succeed in America not because of innate racial or ethnic traits, but because of specific cultural beliefs and practices.
Perhaps what angers people most about “Triple Package” is that it articulates in scholarly, yet provocative, fashion what most of us already believe: Culture matters.