A Self-Evident Dance

In a piece titled "Carney: 'Self-evident' that Libya attack was terrorism," NBC's Ali Weinberg wrote this:

For the first time since four American diplomats were killed during violent protests at the U.S. consulate in Libya, the White House spokesman acknowledged that the attacks were an act of terrorism.

During a gaggle with reporters on Air Force One, Press Secretary Carney called the attacks "terrorism" in the sense that they fit the definition of such an act.

"It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials - that's self-evident," Carney said to reporters traveling en route to Florida, where the president participated in a forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision.

Weinberg does not say whether reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Florida asked Carney follow-up questions.  Given what we know about MSM toadies eager to get Obama re-elected at all costs, including polling results based on skewed data, I doubt anybody pushed Carney to explain himself. 

Had I been on the plane, the hypothetical conversation might have gone this way:

CUSMARIU: Jay, what do you mean by "self-evident"?

CARNEY: Look it up in the dictionary [laughter].

CUSMARIU: I did.  "Self-evident" according to Webster's means "evident without proof or reasoning."  Are you telling us that it is evident without proof or reasoning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack?

CARNEY: I'm not here to play semantic games [laughter].  What are you getting at?

CUSMARIU: It was determined soon after the fact that "our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials," as you put it.

CARNEY: That's what I said.  So?

CUSMARIU: Now you tell us it's self-evident that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.  If it is self-evident now the embassy attack was a terrorist act, presumably it was also self-evident then that it was a terrorist attack, right?  It was clear we were dealing with terrorism once we knew how four Americans died in Benghazi.

CARNEY: Knock off the logic-chopping [laughter] and come to the point.

CUSMARIU: Why did you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice go on television soon after the basic facts were known and in no uncertain terms linked the Benghazi attack to an online video?  You rushed to judgment in the wrong direction.  You should have said right away that Benghazi was a terrorist attack because it was self-evident. 

CARNEY: No, we couldn't call the attack terrorism before all facts were known.

CUSMARIU: Hold on there.  You just told us that it's self-evident that Benghazi was a terrorist act.  So, you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice could have said that right away that the murder of Ambassador Stevens was a terrorist act without waiting for further evidence because none was needed, by the very definition of "self evident."

CARNEY: There you go again, playing semantic games [laughter].

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I'm just drawing an obvious conclusion from what you told us now and the dictionary definition of a term of ordinary English.  So, to repeat, why didn't senior Administration officials call Benghazi a terrorist act right away?

CARNEY: I can't speak for Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice.

CUSMARIU: Okay.  Why didn't you use the term "terrorism" right away?

CARNEY: Look, as White House spokesman, I have to be careful how I describe events.  My judgment at the time was that using the term "terrorism" would have made things worse than they already were, would have risked inflaming the situation further in Libya, Egypt and the Middle East in general.

CUSMARIU: You linked the violence to the video as a form of damage control?

CARNEY: I suppose so, yes.

CUSMARIU: Okay.  However, jumping in right away to link a self-evident terrorist act to an American-produced video creates the impression you were placing at least part of the blame on the United States.  Damage control means blaming America first?

CARNEY: You're twisting my words.

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I'm just drawing an obvious conclusion from what you said.

CARNEY: Look.  We had to put some distance between ourselves and that absurd video.  Maybe you don't know this, but people in the Middle East are used to government-controlled media and probably assumed our administration was responsible for the video.  We had to move quickly to correct that misconception.

CUSMARIU: You blamed the violence on the video as a civics lesson, as a way of teaching the people of the Middle East how things work in America, that the U.S. government can't be held responsible for everything that is published?  I'm sorry but that makes no sense.  If, as you say, the Arab world is used to government-controlled media, they would have no reason to believe you.  They would think you were lying.

CARNEY: You're twisting my words again.  

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  If your real goal was to explain how things work in America, why not add also that our Constitution protects free speech, which means that people can speak their minds and publish as they see fit without government interference?  The first reaction from you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice created the impression the Administration was apologizing for free speech - in effect, for our Constitution - that free speech was to blame for what you now say was self-evidently a terrorist act.

CARNEY: That's ridiculous.

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I did not hear a word on the part of Administration officials standing up for a constitutionally protected right in America.  All I heard was spin to protect the president in an election year by deflecting attention from the fact that his Middle East policy is in shambles; that his outreach to the Arab world after his election, the apology tour, was wishful thinking at best and appeasement at worst; that it is sheer idiocy to think doing away with the phrase "war on terror," as the Obama administration has done, would do away with acts of terrorism; that photos of Ambassador Stevens' dead body being dragged by terrorists are evidence that your boss has weakened America abroad, just as his disastrous economic policy has weakened America at home; that ...

CARNEY: I've had enough of this.

In a piece titled "Carney: 'Self-evident' that Libya attack was terrorism," NBC's Ali Weinberg wrote this:

For the first time since four American diplomats were killed during violent protests at the U.S. consulate in Libya, the White House spokesman acknowledged that the attacks were an act of terrorism.

During a gaggle with reporters on Air Force One, Press Secretary Carney called the attacks "terrorism" in the sense that they fit the definition of such an act.

"It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials - that's self-evident," Carney said to reporters traveling en route to Florida, where the president participated in a forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision.

Weinberg does not say whether reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Florida asked Carney follow-up questions.  Given what we know about MSM toadies eager to get Obama re-elected at all costs, including polling results based on skewed data, I doubt anybody pushed Carney to explain himself. 

Had I been on the plane, the hypothetical conversation might have gone this way:

CUSMARIU: Jay, what do you mean by "self-evident"?

CARNEY: Look it up in the dictionary [laughter].

CUSMARIU: I did.  "Self-evident" according to Webster's means "evident without proof or reasoning."  Are you telling us that it is evident without proof or reasoning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack?

CARNEY: I'm not here to play semantic games [laughter].  What are you getting at?

CUSMARIU: It was determined soon after the fact that "our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials," as you put it.

CARNEY: That's what I said.  So?

CUSMARIU: Now you tell us it's self-evident that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.  If it is self-evident now the embassy attack was a terrorist act, presumably it was also self-evident then that it was a terrorist attack, right?  It was clear we were dealing with terrorism once we knew how four Americans died in Benghazi.

CARNEY: Knock off the logic-chopping [laughter] and come to the point.

CUSMARIU: Why did you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice go on television soon after the basic facts were known and in no uncertain terms linked the Benghazi attack to an online video?  You rushed to judgment in the wrong direction.  You should have said right away that Benghazi was a terrorist attack because it was self-evident. 

CARNEY: No, we couldn't call the attack terrorism before all facts were known.

CUSMARIU: Hold on there.  You just told us that it's self-evident that Benghazi was a terrorist act.  So, you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice could have said that right away that the murder of Ambassador Stevens was a terrorist act without waiting for further evidence because none was needed, by the very definition of "self evident."

CARNEY: There you go again, playing semantic games [laughter].

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I'm just drawing an obvious conclusion from what you told us now and the dictionary definition of a term of ordinary English.  So, to repeat, why didn't senior Administration officials call Benghazi a terrorist act right away?

CARNEY: I can't speak for Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice.

CUSMARIU: Okay.  Why didn't you use the term "terrorism" right away?

CARNEY: Look, as White House spokesman, I have to be careful how I describe events.  My judgment at the time was that using the term "terrorism" would have made things worse than they already were, would have risked inflaming the situation further in Libya, Egypt and the Middle East in general.

CUSMARIU: You linked the violence to the video as a form of damage control?

CARNEY: I suppose so, yes.

CUSMARIU: Okay.  However, jumping in right away to link a self-evident terrorist act to an American-produced video creates the impression you were placing at least part of the blame on the United States.  Damage control means blaming America first?

CARNEY: You're twisting my words.

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I'm just drawing an obvious conclusion from what you said.

CARNEY: Look.  We had to put some distance between ourselves and that absurd video.  Maybe you don't know this, but people in the Middle East are used to government-controlled media and probably assumed our administration was responsible for the video.  We had to move quickly to correct that misconception.

CUSMARIU: You blamed the violence on the video as a civics lesson, as a way of teaching the people of the Middle East how things work in America, that the U.S. government can't be held responsible for everything that is published?  I'm sorry but that makes no sense.  If, as you say, the Arab world is used to government-controlled media, they would have no reason to believe you.  They would think you were lying.

CARNEY: You're twisting my words again.  

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  If your real goal was to explain how things work in America, why not add also that our Constitution protects free speech, which means that people can speak their minds and publish as they see fit without government interference?  The first reaction from you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice created the impression the Administration was apologizing for free speech - in effect, for our Constitution - that free speech was to blame for what you now say was self-evidently a terrorist act.

CARNEY: That's ridiculous.

CUSMARIU: Not at all.  I did not hear a word on the part of Administration officials standing up for a constitutionally protected right in America.  All I heard was spin to protect the president in an election year by deflecting attention from the fact that his Middle East policy is in shambles; that his outreach to the Arab world after his election, the apology tour, was wishful thinking at best and appeasement at worst; that it is sheer idiocy to think doing away with the phrase "war on terror," as the Obama administration has done, would do away with acts of terrorism; that photos of Ambassador Stevens' dead body being dragged by terrorists are evidence that your boss has weakened America abroad, just as his disastrous economic policy has weakened America at home; that ...

CARNEY: I've had enough of this.