SAN DIEGO, November 17, 2012 — President Obama’s first post Benghazi Gate exchange with the White House Press Corps would have put viewers to sleep if not for one posturing comment which could prove to be a Freudian slip.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked about the possible nomination U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his new Secretary of State. Obama responded like a modern Don Quixote, taking the opportunity to continue fighting against the “Republican war on women” in hopes nobody will notice the dragon is only a windmill:
“She (Ambassador Rice) made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.”
Graham and McCain would love to go after Obama instead of his messengers. They may have been waiting for him to make himself more available. His press conferences during campaign season were about as frequent as visits from Haley’s Comet, although apparently there was nothing to worry about. Most of the event seemed less like an interrogation and more like a defense attorney asking leading questions of his client.
“What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change?”
Does any one believe Obama sweated all night in anticipation of that zinger?
How about a requested update regarding “speaking with Governor Romney” so that they might “work together on the nation’s problems?”
Yes, the country has been waiting with bated breath to hear a progress report about Obama’s buddy, Mitt.
Lori Montenegro, of Telemundo, brought up the biggest surprise: immigration reform. “Does that include a legalization program? And also, what lessons, if any, did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?”
Obama happily responds to such questions. They all fall within his comfort zone.
Benghazi, on the other hand, is outside the zone. Ben Feller (Associated Press) may have at least been thinking about Benghazi when he mentioned the General Petraeus affair. Inasmuch as Petraeus’ confession came right after the election and right before he was scheduled to be questioned by Congress, this latest news scandal is at least tangentially related to Benghazi.
And much like a spinoff television series gaining more popularity than the original show, the Petraeus affair has captured media attention in a way that Benghazi has not. It takes nothing less than good old-fashioned sex to focus our mainstream media on a story they were trying to ignore. A few journalists may even stray from course and pay more than a microscopic amount of attention to four Americans apparently thrown to the wolves by those whom they counted on for help.
Feller asked Obama if he “as commander in chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election.”
Obama responded with some platitudes about the FBI and their procedure.
Ed Henry of Fox News did a little better, bringing up the Benghazi raid more directly: “On 9/11, as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?”
President Obama said, “I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe.”
It might have been nice to see Ed retort: “Then who gave the order to stand down?”
The president chastised anyone who dares to question the stellar conduct of his administration: “If people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks.”
A good response might have been, “As a matter of fact, Mr. President, you have done very little to inform us about the Defense Department, the State Department and the CIA as far as Benghazi is concerned. That is the exact problem right now. Instead of reminding us of what we don’t know, why not supply some information? The Benghazi attack was over two months ago.”
Edward R. Murrow was not around, but Obama may have dug himself into a pit anyway with his defensive comment about Ambassador Rice.
By inviting Republicans to come after him instead of Rice, Obama seemed one inch away from admitting that Rice went on TV saying exactly what he wanted her to say, “at the request of the White House.” This seems to contradict his comment during his debate with Mitt Romney, when he insisted that Benghazi was labeled a terrorist attack from the beginning.
Obama cannot have it both ways. If his Rose Garden speech initially described Benghazi as terror, less in a general sense, and more as a description of an organized attack, then who gave Rice an alternative narrative about spontaneous violent responses to a video? It stretches the imagination to see her television tour as anything but White House talking points. Did Obama accidentally admit the obvious by inviting Graham to lay off Rice and come after him? And if Obama told Rice the truth, why did he switch gears during the debate, claiming he knew it was a terror attack before Rice went on TV?
Honest answers to these questions might warrant impeachment, so don’t hold your breath. Republican politicians do not want the reputation of removing our first African-American president from office. Obama and the MSM would shout racism louder than Ambassador Stevens shouted for help.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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