Romney was right to demand the truth from President Obama on Libya and Benghazigate last night in the second Presidential Debate. After Obama’s performance about being offended at the very idea that he would play politics with the tragedy, or the result of a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video.
He didn’t get clarity. Neither did we.
What we got was the moderator making a terrible call by butting in to support Obama’s claim that he said the words “act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the attack in Libya. As if that were even relevant. Ms. Crowley now admits that Romney was right in the main, but just — in her opinion — used the wrong word:
No, Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney didn’t use the wrong word. It was the President who used the wrong words. Romney was simply trying to call him on it when you stepped in. Ms. Crowley herself raised the same question Romney did back on Sept. 28 as to why it took so long for the Obama Administration to conclude it was a terrorist attack.
Words have meaning. Talking in general terms about our nation not liking acts of terror (which in the manner used by the President could be holding up a 7-11 convenience store) is not the same as saying that a US Ambassador died because terrorist organizations deliberately attacked our consulate and killed him and three others. That was Romney’s point. And it continues to be the issue.
Read for yourself (from the official White House transcript) his Rose Garden comments in which he clearly points blame toward the YouTube video before speaking in broad terms against “acts of terror” six paragraphs later:
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. [emphasis mine]
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
And there is no question by any sane person with eyes and ears that the entire Obama Administration blamed the attack on the YouTube video for the next two weeks. The President himself implied as much in the text of his speech before the United Nations:
I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.
There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. [emphasis mine]
He apparently forget to mention his early conclusion to UN Ambassador Susan Rice who several days later made these planned comments:
“We are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation,” Rice said Sept. 16 on “Fox News Sunday.” “The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.
“But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.” [emphasis mine]
There’s no walking this one back. The President had the chance to admit his mistake. Instead he doubled down on dumb. But words have meaning.
The options are these:
- When Obama said “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, he meant “terrorist attack” but then proceeded to intentionally misled the American people by blaming a YouTube video — for political purposes.
- When Obama said last night that he had from the very next day called it an act of terror, implying that he had never viewed it as anything but that, he intentionally misled the American people — for political purposes.
Either way, the end result is that Obama and his Administration intentionally misled the American people, either then or now. Romney rightly sensed the blatant discrepancy about Libya and Benghazigate and called him on it.
Obama is now trying to rewrite two embarrassing weeks of his presidency and hope no one notices. Thanks to Governor Romney’s insistence — and even to some extent Ms. Crowley’s ill-advised interruption — his misleading words will get plenty of air-time between now and the next debate which just happens to focus on foreign policy.
Words have meaning. Truth still matters.
Let’s hope so, anyways.