There was Hillary Clinton, telling Al Sharpton of all people that she found Kevin McCarthy's comments about the Benghazi hearings "deeply distressing."
That was too much for the Morning Joe panel, which just had to laugh. As John Heilemann put it, far from being distressed, Hillary surely sees McCarthy's comments—implying a political motive behind the hearings—as a Christmas and birthday gift wrapped into one that sent her "skipping through the park."
In an interview with Sean Hannity, McCarthy, leading candidate for the House speakership, pointed to the hearings as a Republican accomplishment, tying the hearings to Hillary's decline in the polls. His comments have been cast as playing into Hillary's hands by letting her claim that the purpose of the hearings was always political.
Former GOP congressman Scarborough said that McCarthy's "massive mistake" must leave Republican House caucus members wondering whether McCarthy is ready to be Speaker.
AL SHARPTON: What's your response to McCarthy's comments?
HILLARY CLINTON: I have to tell you I find them deeply destressing. I knew the ambassador that we lost in Benghazi. Along with him, we also lost three other brave Americans who were representing us in a very dangerous part of the world . . . When I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost. But of everybody who has served our condition.
MIKA BREZINSKI: That's right.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's very interesting: when Hillary Clinton said it's deeply destressing --
MIKA: Oh, don't even, you can't even --
JOE: I'm just saying, everybody in the studio exploded laughing because it is so calculated.
MIKA: You can't even say this. It's not going to work for you.
JOE: No, I can say it because you know whose fault it is?
MIKA: Kevin McCarthy.
JOE: It's Kevin McCarthy's fault.
MIKA: But you can't actually give one beat of critique--she's right about everything.
JOE: I'm not. I'm reporting.
MIKA: She's right about the losses. She's right about the insult.
JOE: I'm just reporting.
MIKA: Yeah, but don't do it with snark.
JOE: I'm just reporting that people broke out laughing when she said she was deeply distressed because Kevin McCarthy just basically just wrote her lines for her. There's no reason why the Republicans should be mad at anybody but Kevin McCarthy.
JOHN HEILEMANN: To be clear, the reason that I laughed was not, was because she's saying she's deeply dismayed, when in fact she's, this is like the best possible news. It like a birthday present and a Christmas present all wrapped up in one and dropped in her lap. So when she says I'm deeply distressed and dismayed, in fact she's skipping through the park inside. That is what I found --
JOE: Of course.
WILLIE GEIST: Kevin McCarthy walked out, put the ballon a tee for Secretary Clinton and her eyes got big and she crushed it.
MIKA: You know what they say about Kool-Aid [?]
JOE: They're going to have to, if you're sitting in the Republican caucus and you're wondering who your next Speaker is and you've already made your commitment to Kevin McCarthy, this is a pretty massive mistake and I think you have to sit back and there has to be a discussion about how that happened and whether it proves that he might not be ready to do this job.