The Right Opinion

Return of the Credibility Gap

By Mona Charen · Jan. 1, 2013

Lyndon Johnson, step aside. Barack Obama is far more deserving than you ever were of the term “credibility gap.”

The latest Benghazi lie to crumble like a cigar ash was the assurance from White House spokesman Jay Carney that four State department employees had been fired for their mishandling of the situation following an internal report that found security to have been “grossly inadequate.” On Dec. 20, Carney told reporters “Accountability has been brought to bear with regard to four individuals, who are very senior.” Major news organizations reported that Eric Boswell, assistant secretary of state in charge of security, had resigned along with three others.

Less than a week later, the New York Post revealed that Boswell wasn't actually leaving at all. He had resigned his post as assistant secretary, a spokesman explained, but would continue his other duties at state. As for the other three, they were found to have “performance inadequacies” but not “willful misconduct” and would therefore face no discipline.

So, one official changed desks, and the rest remained in place. That's accountability Obama-style. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other major news outlets have not bothered to report this.

The secretary of state, who on Oct. 15 made the utterly vaporous and content-free claim of “responsibility” for the Benghazi debacle (but chose not to speak for her department on Sept. 16 when the president needed someone to do the rounds of the Sunday talk shows), was at last scheduled to testify before Congress on Dec. 20. Her health problems have sidelined her for now. Whether she will testify in January remains an open question. Republican senators have vowed not to confirm John Kerry until she testifies. But if her health remains fragile, Republicans will be portrayed as brutal for insisting. Bed-side testimony anyone?

Meanwhile, President Obama's great billowing smoke machine chugs on. Appearing on “Meet the Press” on Dec. 30, the president again expressed anger that questions had been asked of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Characterizing reasonable inquiries about the deaths of Americans as “politically motivated attacks,” the president insinuated a racial animus. “Why she was targeted individually for this kind of attack was puzzling to me.” She, of all members of his administration, he stressed “had the least to do with Benghazi.”

If that is so, why was she the designated spokesman for the administration? Isn't it just possible that she became a lightning rod because the president made her one? If, as Henry Wotton put it, an ambassador is a man “who is sent abroad to lie for his country,” an Obama administration diplomat is a person who is sent to the Sunday shows to lie to his own country.

Nearly everything Ambassador Rice said during that Sunday farrago has been shown to be false. We know that there was no protest – and that the administration knew this, too. Rice has since admitted that she saw classified documents linking the attacks to Al-Qaeda before doing the shows.

Secretary Clinton should be under a cloud for failing to prevent the deaths of these Americans and for misleading the nation afterwards. Instead, she is lofted skyward with talk of 2016. A just-released Senate report slams the State Department for ignoring “flashing red” reports of increasing Al-Qaida activity in that part of Libya. Oh well, she failed at a key aspect of her job – nothing to see here.

The most opprobrium, though, belongs to the president. As the new Senate report makes absolutely clear, the White House knew within hours of the Benghazi attack that it was a terror attack and not a protest that became violent. “There was never any doubt among key officials … that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism. For example, two emails from the State Department Diplomatic Security Operations Center on the day of the attack, Sept. 11, and the day after, Sept. 12, 2012, characterized the attack as an initial terrorism incident and as a terrorist event.” Yet, when the president appeared on “60 Minutes,” he said it was “too early” to know whether it was terror attack. On Sept. 18, he said “extremists and terrorists used this (the video) as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.”

The president persisted in this lie personally and through his surrogates for weeks, even as the contrary evidence became a tsunami. The lies were Nixonian in audacity, Johnsonian in scope. The president is right about one thing – it isn't Susan Rice who should take the fall.

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13 Comments

Ct-Tom in NC said:

So, where are the staunch members of the press? Just disgraceful!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 7:44 AM

Lee in Phoenix said:

Tom. We have no friggin' press. The closest we have to actual journalists are working at Fox News, which has been Borked just as effectively as Palin, Ryan, Bush, Netanyahu and Romney (in no particular order.)

The other thing we don't have are the checks and balances that are supposed to accompany our three co-equal branches of government. That is, the administration is run by a guy who doesn't give a damn what congress or the courts think about anything. He's the emperor whose clothes are the media.

He and his co-conspirators must be having quite a New Year's chuckle this morning over the bluster from conservatives over the "compromise" that Biden, of all people, worked out at the deadline in the Senate wherein we kick the can down the road yet again, while soaking the rich and have NO spending cuts to vote on in the House. When the Republicans later squeal about this fiscal disaster, of course, Obama and his propaganda arm in the NFM will stay the course and continue to Bork congress until they have no credibility among the low-information masses when it comes time to stage their momentary hissy over the debt ceiling in February.

And somehow we can't find an impeachable offense in all the deceit, bankruptcies, complicity with enemies or illegal actions of the AG office.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Lee in Phoenix said:

And another thing: since our young people are more interested in getting their student loans forgiven than they are in the future of the country, we're probably not in good enough physical shape to conduct a revolution.

With the conservative majority that exists among the states (whose power has been virtually sucked away to the Feds) maybe the answer is in a constitutional convention. If we do it, let's make sure there are a balanced budget and some sensible term limits in the new provisions.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Capt. Call in New Mexico replied:

I fear that a Constitutional Convention would take away more freedom from us, and that it would eliminate the Bill of Rights. This is because the entire spectrum has moved leftward; what once was considered
a centrist position, is now decidedly left.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Brian in Newport News replied:

We don't need a constitutional convention; the one we have is as good as it gets. We need to force the Federal govnerment back into it's constitutionally restricted box. In order to do that, we need to hatchet just about everything outside of the Departments of Defense and State and the Treasury.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

I concur: A ConCon would be a disaster, since EVERYTHING would be on the table. Does anyone here believe that "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Shall not be Infringed" would make it past a ConCon in 2013? Most of the Bill of Rights would be gone.

Does anyone here believe that it would eliminate the 16th and 17th Amendments?

We don't need a ConCon - we would solve 95% of our problems if we lived by the one we already have.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

Edit: should say "The Right OF THE PEOPLE to Keep and Bear Arms Shall not be Infringed" (emphasis added).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

The members of the lamestream media is too busy sucking up to Odumbo to report anything negative about him or his administration, Any critizism is quickly labeled as racist because Odumbo is black and therefore above blame. It isn't just student loans that the young care about. Free contraceptives, free abortions, a living wage (whatever that is) enforced by the government, and more welfare spending on lazy, illterate, parasites who make no effort to get an education or a job. When the government can no longer sustain the goodies then watch out because they will be in the streets rioting and looting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Cal in SoCal said:

We are witnessing the dismantling of what once was the most potent, successful and endearing nation ever to exist on the face of the earth. All in the ironic guise of equality. Much has been done behind the scenes the impact of which will not be immediately felt. It was just the beginning. The ruse was completed at the last election. Four more years are coming.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Ob2st@rd k@se invaded Libya, in 2011(summer) with US NAVY Hellfire missiles, and then tucked tail, and ran away! This unConstitutional Act is what pissed off both conservatives, and the Enemy-Al qaeda!! Is it any wonder, after that act, that the US Embassy would be a target for Alqaeda?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

RPM in Pittsburgh said:

Mona,
Everything you say in your column is true, but so what, it won't be picked up by anyone, lets face it nobody really cares.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Brian in Newport News said:

The honorable thing for the president to do would be to resign over this... We obviously will never see any such honor out of this man.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Ed Watts in Near Palm Springs replied:

Lock him in a room with a 9mm and the charge "You know what to do." What would happen? He would starve.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 2:35 PM