Last night, Obama and Romney went at each other for the second time this campaign. After the dismal performance in the first debate, Obama just needed to show up and be less polite. He just needed to give the media anything — ANYTHING — so that it can claim victory. He did, and victory has been claimed.
Not that the truth matters or anything.
Mitt Romney had the president on his heels during two key points. But each time, moderator Candy Crowley ran to Obama’s rescue.
TERRORISM AND LIBYA
The first point actually goes back to the first debate. You’ll recall in that debate when the question was about the role of government, the president’s answer started about keeping Americans safe.
So last night, a questioner pointedly followed up on that. He asked Obama about requests for more security before our ambassador to Libya was slain in a terrorist attack (more on this point in a bit). Obama dug in, ignored the question about what he knew before the attacks, but dagnabbit, after the attacks, he vowed to leave no stone unturned.
And that’s not all.
Yes, in an emerging strategy, the president responds to a question about culpability for what happened before a terrorist attack by re-spiking the OBL football and then saying what he’ll do after the attack.
Question: explain who knew about requests for more security before the attack
- I got bin Laden
- I’m going to get to the bottom of Benghazi
Shorter: this loss is a gain if I just change the subject to bin Laden.
And everybody let him. New question, please!
This was it, then things turned to the White House response to the terrorist attack on Sept 11, 2012.
Romney explained that Obama’s administration lied to the American people by refusing to call it a terrorist attack. Obama asserted that he did indeed label the Benghazi attack as “terrorism” the very next day in a statement delivered in the Rose Garden. As this went back and forth.
One problem: just saying a word doesn’t make it a speech about that word.
Thankfully, we have moderators who can jump in and save the day. Crowley took sides with Obama, saying that he was correct.
- she was factually incorrect about the Rose Garden statement
- it’s not her job to fact-check!
First, the statement uses the word “terror” just one time. Its use was not describing this particular attack. It was a speech delivered after September 11, a solemn day on our calendar. While Obama has ditched Bush’s use of “global war on terror,” it was a reminder to our enemies that no act of terror will be tolerated, generally speaking.
Besides, is it now Obama’s position that he knew it was terrorism? It’s both!
Kevin Eder had a great related point:
Second, it’s not the moderator’s job to be the judge of who’s telling the truth. Just. Moderate. Try to keep the candidates on topic. Try to get them to respect the time rules they already agreed to. But when it comes to their answers, zip it!
So, Crowley came to the rescue of Obama on another topic he was weak, and with bad information. She admitted, later, Romney was right. Oh well!
FAST AND FURIOUS
There was also a wide-ranging discussion about guns, assault rifles, and the second amendment. Obama is all for keeping our streets safe. You know, because gun control works so well in his home town of Chicago.
After Obama went on and on about keeping military weapons off our streets, finally Mitt Romney had an opening. He started to open up a can of anger about Fast and Furious, when Crowley immediately shut the discussion down. We’re just out of time and need to have every question in this auditorium answered. No we don’t. We need to have the questions that are asked actually answered. Big difference. No matter. Crowley was determined to push on and change the subject. It came off like this:
In short, Romney did a great job of holding Obama accountable for his pathetic record. He hammered him on Libya. He hammered him on bad policies. He really went after him on the failed economy which was a damning indictment of the Obama term if there ever was one. GOP operatives, I’m sure, are already cutting the video into an ad.
But with Crowley’s help, Obama has just enough to claim victory. No, not victory in any real sense of the word. Victory in the sense that he’s stopped the bleeding. Hey, take your wins wherever you can find them.
I mean, what did you expect from the smartest president ever who says that a teetering economy causes the low gas prices he inherited when he took office?
Which raises this one final observation: