FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Ross Douthat Misses The Obvious
In today’s New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat writes on The Mystery of Benghazi in which he tries to unravel why, oh why the Obama regime would lie to the American public about what happened in Benghazi.
Douthat, for unfathomable reasons, starts off with this rather bizarre premise:
TWENTY-FOUR hours after the American compound in Benghazi was attacked and our ambassador murdered, the tragedy seemed more likely to help President Obama’s re-election campaign than to damage it.
The White House already enjoyed more public credibility on foreign policy than on almost any other issue. When Mitt Romney reacted to the attack with a partisan broadside, portraying a news release sent out by the Cairo embassy before any violence began as a White House apology to the attackers, the president’s path forward seemed clear. He would be disciplined and careful, show anger and steel but also coolness under pressure, and let the rally-round-the-flag effect do its natural work.
To the contrary. The only “rally-round-the-flag effect” visible after the Benghazi attack was the media rallying around the White House. When Obama flew to Las Vegas for a political rally, most Americans not employed by the New York Times and Washington Post, were horrified. By the time Susan Rice made her disastrous, falsehood laden appearance on the Sunday shows on September 16 the broad outlines of the story were known. First, there was no riot in Benghazi. Second, there was advance warning of the attack. Third, there had been requests for enhanced security from the embassy which had been ignored by the State Department.
In his column we follow the White Rabbit of Truth down many rabbit holes arriving here:
Eventually, the White House let the video slip quietly out of its public rhetoric, and refocused on terrorism instead. But everything else that’s come out about Benghazi has seemed much more damning because the administration practiced a strange denial at the outset. The missed warnings, the weaknesses in security, the drip-drip of detail unspigoted by reporting and Congressional hearings — all of it would have been received differently if the White House hadn’t spent a week acting as if it had something big to lose by calling terrorism terrorism.
He seems to conclude that it is Obama’s inherent humanity that resulted in the egregious series of lies he and his regime have fed the country when their duty was to tell the truth.
In a long profile of President Obama published last month by Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis suggested that the president feared the consequences of even a single casualty during the Libyan incursion, lest it create a narrative about how “a president elected to extract us from a war in one Arab country got Americans killed in another.”
How much more, then, might the president fear a narrative about how our Libyan intervention helped create a power vacuum in which terrorists groups can operate with impunity? That’s clearly happened in nearby Mali, where the ripple effects from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s overthrow have helped empower a Qaeda affiliate. In this context, it’s easy to see why the administration would hope that the Benghazi attack were just spontaneous mob violence rather than a sign of Al Qaeda’s growing presence in postintervention Libya as well.
This is only half right. The truth is much more obvious and much more banal.
Obama entered the White House intent upon proving that everything his predecessor had done was either 1) wrong or 2) wrongly executed. When the illusory “Arab Spring” happened, Obama glommed onto it as a way of proving that it wasn’t necessary to use large scale American intervention to overthrow friendly governments, that we could use unidentified mobs to accomplish the same thing. This resonated with the whole “community organizer” and street action romance that permeates the mentality of Marxists of all ages.
To react to our ambassador’s request for additional security would have triggered the obvious question: why? The answer, that al Qaeda was gaining control in Libya and we were not liberators but targets, would be unpalatable in a closely fought election. The result was a few “bumps in the road.”
In the aftermath, the regime was confronted with the choice between telling a damaging truth: al Qaeda is becoming dominant in Libya due directly to the actions of this bunch of clowns in the White House; or telling a lie that pleased the media and Obama’s base on the left: that some crazy Christo-fascist had incensed the normally pacific, though heavily armed, Libyan people into taking mob action. This regime, who’s best friend has always been the Big Lie, responded true to character. Christians and that silly First Amendment thing were to blame.
Douthat tries way too hard to find come way to mitigate the unconscionable acts of the Obama White House in setting the Benghazi tragedy into motion and then covering it up. He wouldn’t have had to try quite as hard to tell the real reason though his column would have been much shorter.