The Right Opinion

A Derelict Commander-in-Chief

By Arnold Ahlert · Feb. 9, 2013

When does laziness become derelictions of duty? Consider the following exchange between Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a Senate hearing regarding the attacks in Benghazi that left four Americans dead. While you read it, remember that: a) President Obama is Commander-in-Chief, and b) the very next day, he attended a fund-raiser in Las Vegas.

Ayotte: So [the president] didn’t ask you what ability we had in the area [of Benghazi] and what we could do?

Panetta: No I think, I mean, he relied on both myself as Secretary and and General Dempsey’s capabilities. He knows generally what we’ve deployed into the region, we’ve presented that to him in other briefings. So he knew vernally what was deployed out there, but as to specifics about time etc. etc., no he left that up to us.

Ayotte: Did you have any further communications with him that night?

Panetta: No.

Ayotte: Did you have any other further communications, did he call you that night to say ‘how are things going, uh what’s going on, where’s the consulate?’

Panetta: No, but we were aware that as we were getting information on what was taking place there, particularly when we got information that the ambassador, uh his life had been lost, we are aware that information went to the White House.

Ayotte: Did you communicate with anyone else at the White House that night?

Panetta: No.

Ayotte: No one else called you to say, ‘how are things going?’

Panetta: No.

Ayotte: And since then, has the president asked you, why weren’t we able to get, in light of the second attack that occurred seven hours later, armed asset there in order to help those who were left and attacked in the annex?

Panetta: The president has made it very clear to both myself and General Dempsey that, uh, with regard to future threats, we have got to be able to deploy forces in a position where we can more rapidly respond.

Ayotte: But just to be clear, he didn’t' ask you that night what assets we had available and how quickly they could respond and what we could do to help those individuals?

Panetta: I think the biggest problem that night, Senator, is that nobody knew really what was going on there.

Ayotte: And there was no follow-up during the night from the White House directly?

Panetta: No, there wasn’t.

In a column on December 30, 2009, I called Barack Obama an “inveterate slacker.” Almost a year later, when he let former president Bill Clinton fill in for him at a press conference – so he could go to a Christmas party – I went further: “In modern times, we’ve had all sorts of presidents, coming from all over the ideological map. We’ve had those with both engaging and subdued styles of leadership, those with varying levels of charisma (or lack thereof), some smarter than others, etc., etc. But I can’t recall a single one of them who seemed like he wanted the job of being president less than Barack Obama. And I’m not talking about what many of the armchair analysts call his ‘detached’ or ‘professorial’ style, which is really a nicer way of saying, to use the popular vernacular, ‘he’s not that into us.’ I mean the job itself. One often gets the impression Mr. Obama would rather be doing just about anything else other than governing, even if it costs him twelve stitches in his lip.”

Or the lives four Americans. This president’s conduct is no longer amusing. It is no longer about being a slacker. I don’t' care how many dim-bulb Americans, or corrupt media enablers want to pretend this scandal is no big deal. I don’t care how many “outgoing” Cabinet members offer some equally execrable version of Hillary Clinton’s despicable “what difference at this point does it make,” or outright evade the relevant issues. Americans have every right to know what Obama knew, when he knew it – and what else, besides apparently passing the buck, did the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military do help his fellow Americans, even as they fought for their lives over the course of eight hours?

And it’s long past the time for some answers about something else as well. There were as many as 35 survivors of that attack. Where are they? What do they have to say? A free press would be demanding answer to such questions. One that has become little more an extension of this administration chooses to ignore them. They would do well to remember that useful idiots only remain in favor while they are useful.