Questions Are Common; Answers Are Rare
Going into the second presidential debate, many members of the mainstream media had determined that their man would produce a strong comeback performance. Their reports proclaiming an Obama victory had already been written when Mitt Romney fielded a question about the murders in Libya. Calling attention to the twists and turns in the unraveling tragedy/fiasco, Romney unwittingly revealed the extent to which the liberal media was prepared to go to make their wishes come true. He also provided us with a defining moment -- yet another one -- in the presidency of Barack Obama, a man of sharp angles and deep reservoirs of mystery.
Romney demanded to know why the president had consistently refused to label the attack that led to the deaths of four Americans an act of terrorism. Viewers across the political spectrum were jolted awake when Obama, with an enviable poker face, stated that he had, in fact, done just that in his Rose Garden comments on September 12.
A stunned nationwide audience blinked away their shock and leaned forward to watch the magic. Romney, visibly nonplussed, flummoxed, perplexed, and gobsmacked, asked very slowly if the president was now making a claim that was belied by two weeks of heavily concentrated effort by Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, press spokespersons, campaign surrogates, and, most conspicuously, Obama himself to link the murders to a video. Surely, Romney must have thought, it can't be this easy.
"Get the transcript," Obama barked, pointing directly at the moderator. Well, what do you know? Candy Crowley just happened to have a copy at hand. On first impression, it would appear that Obama knew that she had one. First impressions, however correct, can be misdirected. Any media lickspittle worth his or her salt would dutifully explain that when Beloved Leader pointed at Candy Crowley, he didn't actually mean Candy Crowley. When he told her to get the transcript, he didn't mean that she should literally get the transcript. He meant, ah, he must have meant...something else. If I point to someone and ask him to pull the dead mackerel out of his pants, I don't necessarily know that he has a dead mackerel in his pants. When it turns out that he does, it's what the kiddies call a coinky-dink. Hey, nothing suspicious there. If you think that this incident smacks of an ambush, why, you're just one of those paranoid right-wingers.
Crowley had second thoughts the following day, grudgingly admitting that Romney had been "mostly" right. The couple of million or so people who heard her mea culpa no doubt applauded her honesty. The sixty million people who heard only her "correction" of Romney remained unenlightened. If you didn't know better, you might guess that this was the way it was supposed to work out.
Under such circumstances, nobody should seriously maintain that Mitt Romney would have been well-advised to march into the sands of Libya in the third debate: fool me twice, shame on me. Granted that the Obama camp is all over the place on the facts, a disadvantage in a fair fight, but who said anything about a fair fight? Do you think that maybe the boys from Chicago (Chris Matthews just heard a code word) had a few tricks up their sleeves? A dazzling display of smoke and mirrors, perhaps? Do you think that maybe their master's commands had filtered down to the media lapdogs? There are clues for those who choose to see.
Matthews was outside the hall in Boca Raton bullying a young man who had complained about the Benghazi scandal, demanding to know what the scandal was. Told that the Obama administration had conflated the terrorist attack with an obscure video, Matthews lied, "Yeah, it was about the video. Read the newspapers. Thank you... Everybody knows it was about the video, it's all about the video." Good of you to settle the whole matter, Chris.
Immediately following the foreign policy debate, Michael Hirsh published a piece in National Journal entitled "Benghazi: The Real Libya Story is No Story." You'll get the idea of where Hirsh is coming from when you read the subtitle: "No evidence has surfaced to indicate the administration is guilty of anything other than looking flat-footed."
The administration looks big-eared, too, but big ears and flat feet did not get our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans murdered. In a picture gradually coming into focus, it is becoming increasingly obvious that certain high-level decisions were taken in disregard of the safety of the people in the Benghazi consulate. More, much more, will emerge when the election is past, but we already know enough to demand straight answers from President Obama. To argue that nobody should politicize a deadly terrorist attack is disingenuous and downright stupid. Policies produce outcomes, and one possible outcome is a terrorist attack. We are not morally enjoined to unite around a president whose wrongheaded policy led to tragedy.
Romney was very, very prudent to steer well clear of this tar-baby (Chris heard a dog-whistle). Anyway, all of the hard, inconvenient questions will be answered -- eventually -- really.
In that 2007 speech that briefly resurfaced before vanishing again, Obama lauded his friend Reverend Wright as the man who had introduced him to Jesus Christ. No need to wonder what he was prior to that introduction: the media dealt with that speech years ago. They got to the bottom of it. We know they did. Because they said they did.
Donald Trump just offered to give five million dollars to charity in return for the president's release of his college records. A reasonable reaction would be, Trump is a blowhard -- take the money. What could be the big deal about college records? Yet Obama stood on principle and refused to shed light on the most closely guarded state secret since the Manhattan Project. Some of us were curious about the precise nature of the principle Obama stood on, and a few paranoid right-wingers speculated wildly about just what was in those records, but the media assured us that it was much ado about nothing. So, there is nothing to fear. We will get the transparency we've been promised.
Oh, as an afterthought, how will Chris Matthews and other moral watchdogs react to Mitt Romney's announcement of the formation of "White Americans for Romney"? (Chris's head exploded.) Will they brand it an insulting race-based appeal, one that is divisive, polarizing, and ultimately racist? You bet they will! Why, just look at this despicable man.
False alarm: there is no "White Americans for Romney." It was Barack Obama who announced the formation of "African-Americans for Obama." What a relief! Although none of those Bad Things apply to this noble project, Chris and his colleagues want us to know that they will be keeping that Romney character under close scrutiny.
And we will get those answers. We always do, don't we?