There's a reason Benghazi Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy offered Hillary Clinton the chance to testify in a private, closed hearing. And there's a reason Clinton wanted to appear in an open setting, with the whole world watching.
The Benghazi Committee has made incremental advances in the public's knowledge of the circumstances of the death of four Americans in Libya on September 11, 2012. But incremental advances — nuggets of information — don't make for dramatic hearings.
In addition, public hearings can become sidetracked, for everyone to see. If one side decides to pitch a fit and bickering ensues, that is what millions of viewers experience. If the questions go off on a tangent, viewers see that, too. In any event, the purpose of the hearing goes by the wayside.
And that is what took place more than once Thursday in Clinton's much-watched Benghazi testimony. Republicans presented some new information. One leading Democrat had a tantrum and started a fight with Gowdy. And some Republicans got tangled up in side issues that didn't tell the public much about the core issues at stake in Benghazi. The result was a marathon hearing that didn't accomplish much.
At this point, there is really only one angle on Benghazi: Americans were in danger in a very dangerous country, security was deteriorating, and the State Department and Secretary of State did little, and in some cases nothing, to protect them.