Question: Why is President Obama avoiding real news shows, but appearing on a fake one? Last night President Obama appeared on Jon Stewart’s fake news show The Daily Show. The subject turned to Benghazi and to the administration’s shifting story in the two weeks following that attack.
Stewart asked: ‘Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? ‘Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within.
‘Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page.’
Obama responded: ‘Here’s what I’ll say. If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.’
He continued: ‘We’re going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up.
‘And you make sure that you find out what’s broken and you fix it.
‘Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency the one thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is that America’s security comes, and the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, security, and protecting Americans.
‘And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency.’
The word ‘optimal’ was first used by Stewart in the question. But Obama’s use of it, in a sound bite that could be used to portray him as somewhat casual about the deaths, lit up conservatives on the internet after it was first reported in a White House pool report by Mike Memoli of the ‘Los Angeles Times’.
That moment was not the first in which Obama sounded callous about the deaths of the four Americans killed in the consulate assault. On Sept 24 he described the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi as “bumps in the road.”
The question is, where is the road that Obama has helped push the Middle East onto going? In both Egypt and Libya, the Obama administration actively pushed to oust the old regimes — bombing Libya to help remove Gaddafi, and pushing Hosni Mubarak off his throne in Egypt as the Tahrir Square protests grew. In fact, Obama was clearer about those protests than he has been about the assault in Benghazi. He took just eight days to call for Mubarak to leave power; his administration took two weeks to describe Benghazi as a terrorist attack.
Today we’re learning more details that make the Obama administration/campaign’s slowness on Benghazi even stranger. The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. The administration has blamed the “intelligence community” for the movie meme, but the intelligence community’s closest officer to the scene of the attack called the attack terrorism. Secretary of State Clinton blamed the “fog of war” but there was no fog, just as there was no protest: The US had a drone lurking overhead watching the battle and sending video back to the US, and the CIA in country said it was terrorism.
McClatchy tried piecing the Obama Benghazi timeline together, and the exercise left the newspaper chain scratching their heads.
The administration, through Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has trotted out a new line recently: It was DNI James Clapper’s fault. He drafted the bad talking points that blamed a movie.
If that’s the case, he needs to give a command performance to Congress to explain himself. He should also pack his bags and find a new job.
But blaming Clapper does not go high enough. Who made the call to send Ambassador Susan Rice onto five Sunday shows to consistently blame the movie and insist that the attack was not a pre-planned terrorist attack? Who made the decision to keep that narrative up for another week and a half? Why did this administration jail the moviemaker? Why did it assault our First Amendment rights rather than assault the terrorists who killed four Americans?
My current guess is that Barack Obama and David Axelrod made those calls, to preserve the campaign narrative that “Osama bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run.” Bin Laden is dead, but his death has not put al Qaeda on the run anywhere but forward, and Obama’s Middle East policies have ended up helping al Qaeda achieve a level of real power that they could only have dreamed of before the so-called Arab Spring.