Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lobbed a series of damning accusations against his old boss, President Barack Obama.
In his new book, Panetta says that Benghazi was always an obvious terrorist attack. He says that Obama approaches the world like a law professor, meaning that he does not usually see reality if it does not comport with his preconceived notions. Panetta writes that Obama’s decisions on Syria and Iraq have paved the way for the rise of of the Islamic State. Panetta writes that Obama has given up on the job, rather than continue to try working with Republicans in Congress.
The merits of some of these charges, as well as Panetta’s timing in launching them, can be debated. Obama never showed any interest in working with Republicans in Congress, for instance. In his first meeting with the opposition party, then in the minority in both houses of Congress, Obama declared “I won” and shut off debate. He lurched farther left after his overreaches, including Obamacare, led to the Republicans taking over the House in 2010. It is also probable that some of Panetta’s charges, whether correct or not, are being lodged now in order to pave the way for his friend Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House. He has revised Clinton’s role in Syria and ISIS, for instance, in a way that makes her look better and Obama look worse.
All of that said, the seriousness of Panetta’s charges isn’t debatable. He writes, essentially, that Obama is unfit for the job of president for multiple reasons. That means nothing will change for the rest of Obama’s term. He might be dragged into fighting ISIS more vigorously, which Panetta supports, but only after the world’s richest terrorist group has accumulated more territory and troops, and only after it has killed even more innocent people and become even more dangerous than it already is. By the time Obama gets around to launching more than four airstrikes per day against ISIS, the group may have further destabilized the Middle East and could even have obtained weapons of mass destruction.
So Panetta’s charges are serious, and they come from a serious man who served in Congress and who led both the CIA and the Defense Department. A man who perhaps could have done more, sooner, to make the case that he is making now — but he is serious.
President Obama is not, and he sent spokesman Bill Burton out to CNN to deflect Panetta’s accusations. Not refute, just deflect.
With childish name-calling. Watch the video on the next page.
Burton, a long-time Obama loyalist, represents Obama perfectly here. He responds to serious charges by attacking the man who is levying them. He calls Panetta “sad” and “dishonorable” for going after Obama “at a time of a lot of instabilities around the world,” ignoring the fact that Obama and his poor judgement is at the root of most of those instabilities.
Burton brags that Obama “got bin Laden” — which everyone knows now he was very reluctant to do — and that he “got our troops out of Afghanistan.” Our troops are still in Afghanistan, and Obama’s decision to pull troops out of Iraq too soon has led to the rise of ISIS.
Burton finishes with one more insult: That Panetta’s criticism now is “small and petty.”
Those two words sum up the Obama administration perfectly. This is a president who came into office at a big moment in history, and he promised big hope and big things. Instead he has surrounded himself with yes-men like Burton and actively wants to wish the world away against just long enough to not lose the mid-terms.