Last week, in the final presidential debate on foreign policy, Mitt Romney made a deliberate decision not to go after the president on Benghazi.
Romney’s task was to present himself as a plausible commander in chief. To do so, he needed to remain above the fray and avoid getting into a spat with the president over the details of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Romney was right (politically) to avoid a tit-for-tat with Obama on Benghazi. With the White House changing its story daily, any attempt by Romney to criticize the president on this issue would only have left him with a major case of whip-lash.
But the public and the media must demand answers. What exactly happened this past Sept. 11 in Libya? And why was the Obama administration unable or unwilling to prevent it? The Benghazi controversy is not one, but four separate scandals — each of which calls into question the president’s leadership.
First, Benghazi raises legitimate questions about Obama’s competence as commander in chief. In last week’s debate, the president said that his No. 1 job is to keep Americans safe. Then why did he not do so in Benghazi? Was the president unaware of the threat in Libya? Or did he simply fail to treat it with the requisite level of seriousness? The British saw the danger and closed their consulate months earlier. Once the attack on our consulate was under way, why did the president fail to send assistance?
Second, the president’s reaction to Benghazi reveals his utter lack of integrity. That he allowed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to fall on her sword rather than man-up and accept responsibility for his administration’s failure was not only despicable, it was cowardly.
Third, Benghazi reveals the president to be dishonest. It is now clear that the administration knew almost immediately that the Benghazi attack was a premeditated act of terrorism. But, in order to protect his own political hide, the president engaged in a misinformation campaign aimed at deceiving the American public. And the president continues to lie daily in order to hide the cover-up. His most recent claim (and who can keep track, with his story constantly changing?) that he made information public as it became available to him has been proved patently false. And yet, he continues to claim that if he provided inaccurate information, it was simply “the fog of war.”
Fourth, Benghazi reveals Obama’s deeply flawed ideological principles. Ironically, despite his flippant “fog of war” defense, Obama has never indicated that he regards the Benghazi murders as an attack upon America. To the contrary, his reflexive response was to describe the attack as a random act of violence provoked by American religious bigotry. He then went on to minimize the seriousness of this violence by calling it “less than optimal” and by jetting off to Vegas for a major fundraiser in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
That the Obama administration views the murders in Benghazi through the prism of crime rather than the prism of war should come as no surprise. After all, this is the same administration that coined the euphemism “man-made disasters” to refer to acts of terrorism; it is the same administration that characterized the Fort Hood massacre not as an example of ideologically motivated Islamic jihad but as just another incidence of “workplace violence.” Those events provided important clues as to this president’s guiding philosophy. But Benghazi demonstrates the dangerous geo-political consequences of such a world-view.
Benghazi raises serious questions about the president’s competence, integrity, and honesty. And it reveals more clearly than ever before Obama’s reflexive impulse to blame, rather than defend, America.