Sometimes a citizen lawmaker dares to exercise such candor that the inside-the-Beltway crowd recoils in horror at the blatant honesty. Such was the case with Wisconsin's own Senator Ron Johnson (R) this past week. Johnson captured attention with his tough questioning of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to finally answer questions about the Benghazi disaster of last September.
Clinton, demonstrating the cunning political acumen that propelled her and her husband so far on the national political stage, weaved a range of emotions into her carefully prepared opening statement. With her final months as Secretary of State clouded by the death of an American ambassador and a subsequent lack of honesty in dealing with the situation during a political campaign, Clinton had to present a strong showing to maintain future political opportunities.
Then Ron Johnson happened.
Refusing to accept Clinton's scripted answers, Johnson pressed the Secretary for specific details of her involvement in the disaster and her Department's failure to protect one of its own. The exchange was contentious and tumultuous.
After the hearing, Johnson suggested to a reporter that Clinton was less than genuine in her appearance before the committee. What he suggested wasn't flattering, but it was true. As any candid political observer knows, the Clintons are masterful politicians who are able to fabricate and project an image that may not be genuine but is quite convincing.
For daring to question Hillary Clinton's motives, Senator Johnson was named the person who had the "Worst Week in Washington" by the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. Cillizza is a smart reporter, even if infected by the more liberal-leaning Potomac fever that taints a number in the nation's political press corps elite, and his observations are often useful and insightful. But he's dead wrong on this one.
Ron Johnson may have felt the pressure to back off his statement and the Washington intelligentsia may have found his honesty woefully out of line. But what he said didn't only need to be said, it was true.
For far too long an incestuous atmosphere has pervaded the nation's capitol. Establishment political figures in both parties have been given a pass by those who are supposed to be the watchdogs of the process. Instead of receiving the skepticism and vetting bestowed on others, these individuals - and the Clintons are among them - have been able to act with impunity expecting to never be held accountable.
Senator Johnson's questions at the hearing, and subsequent candor about the attitude of Secretary Clinton, are a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Washington's self-confidence does not comport well with a nation that sees looming fiscal and economic challenges growing closer by the day. To fix the problems we face it is going to take more honest leadership than Washington is used to being comfortable with. Senator Ron Johnson is one of those leaders who is willing to ignore the status quo that got us to where we are, and provide the honesty we need.