Now Showing: “The Benghazi Chronicles,” or “How The Absence Of A Trustworthy And Objective Newsmedia Undermines Democracy”

If you think she would lie to Congress, you must be one of those Obama-hating conservatives!

Never mind what the e-mails say: if you think she would lie to Congress, you must be one of those Obama-hating conservatives!

Did you know that the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi fiasco last September and its subsequent explanations to the Congress, the American people and the world is under legitimate scrutiny once again, and that there may be credible and irrefutable evidence that the Administration both botched the response and lied about it? Did you know that at least three whistleblowers—Mark Thompson, deputy assistant secretary of state for counter-terrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, who acted as a regional security officer in Libya for the State Department—who had direct knowledge of the inner workings of the government during and after the crisis, will be testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, perhaps this week? Did you know that there is a significant possibility that, as Conservative pundits and Republicans were screaming at the time, the Obama Administration executed a deliberate and purely politically motivated cover-up operation designed to withhold the truth about the Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and other U.S. personnel until after the elections, if not permanently?

Since this is an important and perhaps transformational developing news story, one would hope that you would know at least some of thus if you have frequented any “respectable” news source over the past few days, and not been spelunking. One would hope, and one would have that hope dashed. There was nothing about Benghazi over the weekend in the New York Times, or on NBC, ABC’s Sunday Morning news show. There was plenty of coverage, all day long yesterday, at Fox, and you know what that means (and is supposed to mean, and in carefully manipulated by the rest of the media to make sure it means), don’t you? The re-opening of the Benghazi issue is a “conservative story,” just concocted, twisted and massaged by the Obama-hating cabal!

To its credit, CBS, via “Face the Nation,” covered the story on Sunday while ABC, NBC and CNN chose to focus almost exclusively on Syria and immigration reform. Bob Shieffer opened the segment by referring to it as “the story that will not go away,” a self-revelatory intro, I think, since Bob, like most of his Obama-worshiping colleagues, probably wishes the story would go away. Yet he quoted one of the so-called whistleblowers, Greg Hicks, who  reportedly told investigators that the Administration, contrary to what Susan Rice was sent out to tell the public and what the President told the world, knew “from the get-go” that the attack wasn’t a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic video, but a coordinated terrorist act.

Over at Fox, they were able to find at least one Democrat who was willing to breach the party’s blue line. Rep. Stephen Lynch pronounced Rice’s officially sanctioned message as “false” and “wrong.” “There were no protests outside the Benghazi compound there. This was a deliberate and strategic attack on the consulate there,” said the Democratic congressman who represents Boston’s Irish Southie district in Massachussets. Still, despite this and Stephen Hayes’s apparently authoritative account at “The Weekly Standard” of how the CIA’s talking points about Benghazi were “scrubbed” to avoid sparking criticism of the President during the campaign, this still isn’t being treated as a legitimate news story across the media. I was initially encouraged to see a Washington Post online piece titled “Benghazi plot thickens,” but sure enough, the author is Alexandra Petri, one of the Post’s token conservative bloggers. You see, I can’t tell if this is real either—that’s the genius of the progressive-biased news media. It gives us no alternative to confirmation bias. If you distrust Obama and his government, you might be inclined to believe that Benghazi was an incompetent bungle followed by a cynical, Nixonesque, election-tainting cover-up. If you believe the President can do no wrong, then you will want to shrug off this entire issue as just more Republican sniping. A vigorous, free, objective, competent and trustworthy press is supposed to sort it all out for us, but we don’t have that.

What we have is a group of journalists and commentators who encourage ossification of partisan positions and ignorance. The Republicans, specifically Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Lindsay Graham, have kept this issue alive, and journalists are aggressively passing along the Administration line that it is all personal. On Chris Matthews’s show yesterday, Dan Rather—isn’t it amazing now to think back on how he was once regarded as objective and respectable?—-further disgraced himself by telling Chris Matthews—isn’t it amazing now to think back on how he was once regarded as objective and respectable?—that Republicans “politically want to cut his heart out and throw his liver to the dogs.” Well done! By framing everything Republicans do as part of a vicious, unreasoning personal vendetta, Rather effectively tells the public that they need pay no heed to anything the GOP claims to have discovered regarding Benghazi or anything else, if it reflects poorly on the President. His efforts are mirrored by the relentless characterization of Obama and the Democrats by conservative radio talk-show hosts as secret autocrats trying to strip Americans of their basic liberties.  This is how a criminal defense attorney impeaches witnesses against her client—but ethical journalists aren’t supposed to represent Presidents, or their adversaries. They are supposed to help us find the truth.

Thus the Benghazi revelations, if that’s what they are, present yet another integrity check for the Administration, the President, the news media and the public. Were we told the truth? If not, will the government finally, if belatedly, do so? Will those who engineered the deception, not to mention the mishandling of the attack itself, face any accountability? If Rice indeed spread, and knowingly was spreading, a “scrubbed” version of the CIA analysis of the attack, will the President still nominate her, as has been assumed, to be the next National Security Advisor? Will Hillary Clinton face any sanctions or consequences if, as the “scrubbing” reports suggest, she lied to Congress? Will that stop the Clinton-enabling media from continuing to stump for her as the next President? Will the Post, Times, CNN and the rest ever cover this as a news story, rather than take sides as if it was pure partisan warfare? Will the public shrug the whole matter off as old news and too complicated to get upset about? If so, will it further embolden this and future administrations to conclude that it can lie to the public and manipulate facts for political gain with impunity? Will the news media assent to that conclusion? Or is the whole thing just a “conservative story” after all, a trumped-up narrative so Republicans can cut the President’s heart out and throw his liver to the dogs? Does the public care? Should it care? Does it matter?

Conservative blogger she may be, but Petri has this question answered perfectly. “It always matters, “ she writes, “when an administration tries to conceal the truth from the American people. And it matters if those responsible are still in positions of authority.It always matters when an administration tries to conceal the truth from the American people. And it matters if those responsible are still in positions of authority.”

___________________________________

Sources: CBS, Newsbusters, Washington Post, Weekly Standard 1, 2

Graphic: Washington Post.

90 Comments

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90 responses to “Now Showing: “The Benghazi Chronicles,” or “How The Absence Of A Trustworthy And Objective Newsmedia Undermines Democracy”

  1. Inquiring Mind

    Sharyll Atkisson of CBS has been trying to cover this issue as well (she also did good reporting on Operation Fast & Furious).

    But too many in the media are covering up. If they will cover this up – what else is the media not telling the public about other issues?

  2. Hillary Clinton; “What difference at this point does it make?”

    Alexandra Petri; “It always matters.”

    Who to believe…

    @Inquiring Mind; O ye of little faith; don’t you think they’ll come around once they wrap up their Pulitzer-deserving treatment of the Dr. Kermiy Gosnell trial?

  3. Other Bill

    Obama’s been re-elected. At this point, the wagons are firmly circled around the then-Secretary of State and recently pre-ordained, and inevitable, “Madame President.” How can any right-thinking human being possibly want to end a brilliant career short of the White House because the organization she so deftly headed happened to hang out to dry a few lower level employees (who probably went to a state university or something, for God’s sake) and a few jarheads. Give me a break. This is Realpolitik, Jack. Not the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    • Other Bill

      But you’re right. The reporters shouldn’t be playing this game. They should be umpiring. When did they start playing instead of refereeing? Sam Donaldson? William Randolph Hearst? Walter Cronkite? Harry Reasoner? Must have happened before Watergate but I think it certainly set the tone for the current generation.

  4. Gosh, Jack, there’s really nothing here that hasn’t been all over the “liberal media.” I’ve had more than I can stomach of it for a long time–I even stopped watching Erin Burnett on CNN because she kept repeating and repeating and repeating the phony story of a cover-up..

    Of course it was a terrorist attack: spontaneous demonstrators don’t mount a coordinated attack like this. Rice gave out a muddled–and wrong story that had been patched together hurriedly by a bunch of staffers from the multitude of intel agencies. It was corrected within a day or two. I believe Obama labeled it terrorism the next day.

    The big story, which Fox and the other media botched, was why State didn’t take security seriously–as they haven’t going back to the 1980s and Beirut and Athens. I believe Clinton never saw the request from Benghazi for security help–the big question is why not. But the story has been hidden on both sides–out of desire to “get” Obama or to shield him. In this case it was the crime, not the cover-up.

    • Bob, Hayes’ tracing of the e-mails certainly sounds like a real cover-up, not a phony one. Why do you out of hand dismiss that possibility that this was related to the campaign? Why did Obama keep flogging the video at the UN—that isn’t dishonest? Nobody’s forcing the Administration to hide behind its Praetorian Press (That’s Rush’s line, and I think it’s terrific)—why didn’t it come clean before this? Why do you discount what the whistleblowers say? How does “scrubbing,” When the result is what Rice gave us, comfort with “transparency”? We held Nixon accountable for what his “bunch of staffers” did—why is Obama held to a lesser standard?

      • Walrus

        Sorry Jack you are wasting your time trying to convince anyone on the left that the President might have acted unethically. They don’t subscribe to bourgeois notions of ethics. If you are on the left the most ethical thing you can do is hold leftist positions and work toward leftists goals, as long as you do this, you can’t be unethical in the leftists universe. Even if you could convince “Ethics Bob” that the administration had lied and covered up the attacks, the actions still wouldn’t have been unethical. The true unethical outcome would have been if Romney had won the election over a minor issue like Benghazi. Don’t believe me, watch and see how the Benghazi situation unfolds. It doesn’t matter what facts emerge, NOTHING is beyond the pale for the left.
        The ethics of the left are that any bourgeois notion of ethics can be abandoned when leftists goals are at stake.

    • Obama did mention terror in connection with the attack the next day: “No acts of terror will shake the resolve of this great nation…” There is evidence that within hours of the attack, resources were being mobilized to track a terror attack.

      And yet…

      We have Rice with her muddled – and wrong – story. Which persisted on Sept 16th, over the course of 5 different talk shows. Surely someone could have seen one or two, and pulled her aside and mentioned that at that point, they already knew the name of the guy crowing about the attacks – and he wasn’t a filmmaker.

      We have Carney who was still talking about the protests and the video on Sept 14th, and confidently asserting that there was no evidence that any of the violence was preplanned. On Sept 19th, he was still insisting that it was logically plausible to assume that a street riot would have brought along RPG’s, automatic weapons, and mortars – and that there was still no evidence that anything was preplanned.

      FOX and CBS reported it could be a terrorist attack on the 12th. Intelligence and the president knew it was an attack by the 12th. CNN was wondering if it could be terror by the 13th. Carney finally admitted it was terror on the 20th. That’s a full week of a variety of highly placed officials lying repeatedly in order to recraft the story. What possible motivations could they have had to do so? Why was the administration so out to lunch that they allowed obvious lies to persist for a solid week?

      Ah, I forget – “What difference does it make at this point?”

      • Inquiring Mind

        The difference very well was Obama losing credibility in the fight against terrorism. He was claiming “Al-Qaeda is on the run” – to have a major attack (which Benghazi was, involving the death of an ambassador and eight hours of fighting), plus incompetence in ignoring warnings and requests for security, plus the failure to rapidly reinforce the consulate would have arguably cost him the 2012 election had the truth come out.

        That was the difference, and Hillary and Obama knew it. Hillary protected Obama – and the deal probably was she’d cover his ass in exchange for his support for 2016.

    • Isaac

      My memories of the days after the attacks consist mostly of watching Carney REPEATEDLY blame the video and specifically say, “this is in no way a reaction to Obama or any of his policies.” It wasn’t just intentional rear-end covering, it was shameless rear-end covering. Even if that’s the worst of it…how is that any way for a leader to, you know, lead? Assuming that they STILL actually thought that this might even remotely be about a YouTube video…why did they so confidently insist on that narrative if they weren’t sure?

      • I have no idea why Bob, or anyone else, resists this conclusion, which was plain as day. The White House had decided to use the video as a decoy, and it was, as you say, shameless and despicable.

  5. I think Obama should be held responsible for a cavalier attitude to security in State–he probably should have fired Clinton over it. But covering up that it was a planned attack? I just can’t take that seriously at all. It was confused by Washington on day one, but not after that.

    • Bob!!! The media, Obama, Hillary and Rice kept referencing the video! Days later! With the specific point that the attack had nothing to do with the U.S.! (Terror tends to have something to do with its target.) They even apologized for the video, and the Bill of Rights! How can you not regard that as intentional deception? How can taking a CIA report that says “this was an Al Quida attack” and leaving that part out for days not be a cover-up? What’s the nice word for it?

      • Other Bill

        And how about Obama going to Mexico and telling all the future Democratic voters there that the violence in Mexico is the result of US guns finding their way across the border? Is this guy President of the US or the United Nations? Mexico? Egypt? I guess everything really is our fault, terrorism, etc. Those US people at the embassy were obviously imperialists and colonialists.

        • And how about Obama going to Mexico and telling all the future Democratic voters there that the violence in Mexico is the result of US guns finding their way across the border?

          Well, he’s not lying…

          He just isn’t mentioning that such firearms came to Mexico at the direct order of his administration…

      • Walrus

        http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/168363/
        The film maker who made the video that was supposed to caused the attacks is still in jail.
        http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/09/20/u-s-embassy-spends-70k-on-ads-denouncing-anti-muslim-film-for-pakistani-tv/
        Clinton’s state department ran ads in Pakistan condemning the video and Bob still doesn’t care.

        It doesn’t matter because the President is for protecting women’s right to choose, making the wealthy pay their fair share and social justice. As long as the President advances leftist goals he cannot be unethical by leftist standards.

        Seeing leftist ethics on display like this is terrifying but the system has its own internal logic and consistency. But it also explains why leftists don’t experience cognitive dissonance at moments like this. “Ethics Bob” was probably outraged by the dishonesty of the Bush administration but cannot see what the big deal is in Benghazi. Much ado about nothing really. .

        • Ethics Bob is no leftist. I know him, I respect him, and he is both wise and fair, as well as ethical. In this case, he happens to be wrong, that’s all. It happens to me a lot.

  6. crunchback

    I had such hope. I wanted to believe in Obama. But he has proven to be inept and duplicitous. I’m done with him. And with her. Oh, for a viable third-party candidate!

    • I had such hope. I wanted to believe in Obama.

      Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy too? At least for that one there was the evidence of money under your pillow. Obama had no accomplishments – and I mean absolutely none – and offered only platitudes. He said empty, meaningless phrases and let you decide what meaning those words had. He was an empty vessel, to be filled with whatever the listener wished to be there.

      The only thing he could have conceivably pointed to – anything he did in college – was actively hidden from us. The man in whose home Obama launched a bid for office was a man who admits to have set bombs, all known mentors were avoids socialists and Marxists, and his pastor was a man who actively preached how America was a bad place.

      I’m sorry, but what the FUCK did you think he was going to be? Did you think he would magically become even a barely passable leader? That he would gain, in a manner akin to Moses receiving the Commandments, an ability to even begin to speak to or about people who disagree with him with anything besides contempt? That he would spontaneously generate even the most basic understanding of anything even tangentially related to economics?

      No one who was capable of rational or critical thought could ever have believed he would be nothing but an incompetent, bumbling, petulant, petty, abject failure.

      • Julian Hung

        In his defense, the main justification for voting for either of the main candidates in 2008 and 2012 was “at least he’s not that other guy”.

  7. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Were we told the truth?

    We already know we weren’t, at least not the whole truth.

    If not, will the government finally, if belatedly, do so?

    No. They will will duck, cover, give non-answers, and tell us not to worry about it.

    Will those who engineered the deception, not to mention the mishandling of the attack itself, face any accountability?

    Possibly some of those lower down the totem pole who can’t help either the president or Hilary going forward.

    If Rice indeed spread, and knowingly was spreading, a “scrubbed” version of the CIA analysis of the attack, will the President still nominate her, as has been assumed, to be the next National Security Advisor?

    Probably, since I don’t think that requires a nod from the Senate, and it may have been part of a deal to withdraw before things really got messy there.

    Will Hillary Clinton face any sanctions or consequences if, as the “scrubbing” reports suggest, she lied to Congress?

    Unlikely.

    Will that stop the Clinton-enabling media from continuing to stump for her as the next President?

    As Nancy Pelosi would say, “Are you serious?”

    Will the Post, Times, CNN and the rest ever cover this as a news story, rather than take sides as if it was pure partisan warfare?

    Not a chance, there’s ratings to be made here.

    Will the public shrug the whole matter off as old news and too complicated to get upset about?

    Probably, after all, we’re well into baseball season now.

    If so, will it further embolden this and future administrations to conclude that it can lie to the public and manipulate facts for political gain with impunity?

    Yes and no.

    Will the news media assent to that conclusion?

    Yes – until the next Republican president is sworn in, then they’ll suddenly remember what their jobs are.

    Or is the whole thing just a “conservative story” after all, a trumped-up narrative so Republicans can cut the President’s heart out and throw his liver to the dogs?

    That’s the general consensus in the mainstream media.

    Does the public care?

    Not really – what time are the Kardashians on again?

    Should it care?

    Yes, and if wishes were horses…

    Does it matter?

    Maybe it doesn’t appear to matter right now, but in the grand scheme of things, yes.

  8. Beth

    This is what I don’t understand. Why would Obama take the risk of outright lying/covering up this story during an election cycle? As soon as news of the attack leaked out, it was clear that this was going to be the conservatives’ primary focus. So, if that’s the case — why do a deliberate cover up, especially since his record on terror was otherwise stellar? This is the man who sent the murder squad against Bin Laden (violating Pakistan’s sovereignty in the process) and sends drones against anyone on the thinnest of evidence. Obama obviously is anti-terror. Even if this was a collosal mistake by the State Department, he could have owned up to it and otherwise pointed to his administration’s actions. To the extent Obama did a deliberate cover-up, he certainly did a poor job of it, making this an even bigger disaster than the attack itself — and whether or not you like Obama, he’s a pretty smart guy. So I admit that I have trouble swallowing this story.

    However, whevever I hear about Benghazi, my thoughts immediately turn back to the invasion of Iraq. We now know that the administration deliberately gave us incorrect information. Even if Benghazi also was a cover-up, the invasion of Iraq (costing hundreds of thousands of lives, billions of dollars, skyrocketing the debt, creating more enemies, and forever polluting sections of Iraq) is a much bigger deal. I know memory fades with time, but I think the alleged Benghazi cover-up has gotten MORE media attention than the alleged Iraq cover-up. Or is that my liberal bias talking?

    • Inquiring Mind

      If the cover-up held for long enough, Obama wins re-election.

      The fact is, had the truth about Benghazi come out seven months ago, Mitt Romney would probably be President right now. Obama would have become another Jimmy Carter instead of possibly becoming the next LBJ.

      For Obama, the truth about Benghazi would have placed everything he valued (primarily Obamacare and his legacy) at risk. So it was worth covering up the truth.

      Fortunately for him, the press was all-in for his re-election.

      • Beth

        I disagree. If this happened seven months ago AND Obama did not cover it up, you really think that Mitt would have been elected? The man who sends out drones on a whim against potential terrorists vs. the man who kept putting his foot in his mouth when it came to foreign relations? And then you add in Mitt’s lack of empathy and social skills? I just don’t think the truth here was worth any cover-up and it doesn’t matter when it happened. Women and Latinos determined this election — I don’t think this would have swayed those votes. And, even if it had been revealed that there was a deliberate cover-up, I still don’t think it would have mattered. Unfortunately, we are at the point where we assume that all administrations lie. It wouldn’t have changed my vote — even if it further diminished my opinion of Obama.

        • Inquiring Mind

          Obama was saying during the 2012 campaign, “Al-Qaeda is on the run.”

          Now, after all that, al-Qaeda pulls off a major attack (and eight hours of attacking a consulate with a mortar attack and a number of shooters – and killing an ambassador is a major attack). How does Obama’s credibility look then?

          Yeah, he killed bin Laden, but al-Qaeda is still capable of carrying off a major attack. His credibility on terrorism would have been damaged. And this election was still a pretty close one, and Romney was leading by a fee points until Superstorm Sandy hit.

          The truth about Bengahzi would have knock Obama back a couple more points – probably enought o allow Romney to eke out an electoral college win.

          Keep this in mind as well: Obama didn’t need to keep Benghazi secret for four years – he just needed two or three months, and it seems like he got seven and a half. The cover-up worked just well enough.

          • Obama won by a 1.5 percentage point swing. A couple of points would have beaten him.

            • Beth

              My point is that this didn’t sway anybody. Conservatives made up their minds that this was a cover up and liberals didn’t care enough about the issue. (I.e., even if Obama is liar, we’re still not voting for Romney). I don’t know anybody who was on the fence about this one.

              • If liberals don’t care enough about American ambassadors being murdered and Presidents, Cabinet members and UN ambassadors lying to them about why, while blaming the free exercise of our First Amendment rights so that voters are deceived going into an important election, then liberals are a disgrace to the United States and don’t deserve the benefits democracy conveys. But I don’t believe it. I believe that liberals object to the abuse of power and lying as much as conservatives do. I believe that they are especially vulnerable to lies told by other liberals, just as conservatives are vulnerable to lies told by other conservatives. Lots of people were on the fence, but the issue is and was turnout.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  And the issue behind turnout was the message. Romney really didn’t have one, but the attacks from the other side like the “war on women” resonated. Still, if you look at the fivethirtyeight blog, it didn’t appear that a swing in percentage points would have helped Romney, too many of the right cities in the right states were in Obama’s pocket from the get-go.

                • I wish you were right, but I don’t think so. I believe most liberals could care less about the abuse of power and lying as long as they stay in power. Their agenda is a Socialist agenda bordering on Communism and they’ll do anything to make sure that it happens. When I think about these four men being murdered without even a hint of remorse from this administration I’m reminded of the Clinton era. This seems to be an extension of the toxic smell of Whitewater and the subsequent suicide and “accidents” that continually surounded them. Does it ever end? And I don’t believe the issue was/is turnout. I believe it’s directly related to voter ID fraud. See WSJ’s Saturday post by Richard Hanus. He explains it very well.

                  • Less than 50% of the country cared enough about the governance of a nation with a failing economy, wretched employment, an ossified legislature, an inept and overly politicized executive, a frighteningly incompetent foreign policy and more to bother to vote at all, less than half of that had the sense to vote to change it. The GOP is 100% responsible for not making an easy and obvious argument persuasive enough to get millions of Americans off their butts.

                • Beth

                  That’s not fair. There is A LOT that I, and most of my educated friends, are highly critical of Obama about — drones being the top of the list. Here’s the difference. I add up all the bad on the Romney side and I then I add all the bad on the Obama side (I’ll even throw in a Benghazi cover up), and Obama still is the lesser of two evils. And another point — and perhaps it’s generational — most of my friends now vote for ideas, not people. People — especially politicians — always disappoint (Roberts, Clinton, Weiner, the list is endless). And every politician lies to us. Obama’s lies to date can’t even come close to Bush’s lies. If Benghazi turns out to be true, it’s horrible and I’ll condemn it, but our Presidents do this all the time. And I think Romney and his hypothetical administration would have done far worse damage to our country, our safety, our economy, and our foreign relations. I realize other people feel differently, and they are entitled to their opinions, but that doesn’t mean that liberals are a disgrace because they feel this way.

                  • What did I write that isn’t fair? I laid out the general accusation that many progressives/liberals don’t care about misconduct of it is engaged in by politicians who hold their beliefs, and said, and that, if true, this would make such liberals disgraces and a blight on democracy. Then I wrote…

                    “But I don’t believe it. I believe that liberals object to the abuse of power and lying as much as conservatives do. I believe that they are especially vulnerable to lies told by other liberals, just as conservatives are vulnerable to lies told by other conservatives.”

                    That seems scrupulously fair to me. But this statement..”most of my friends now vote for ideas, not people” makes me reconsider. Voting for “ideas”-only means voting for lies, spin and manipulation. People and leaders must execute ideas, or, if they are corrupt or inept, they don’t. Voting for ideas and not people guarantees an illusory, cynical government that works on making people think it is doing noble things, while it is in fact only interested in enriching its own power and enriching its allies.

                    But your statement does explain the votes for Obama.

                    • Beth

                      Agreed with most of what you wrote here, except for the part that liberals are “vulnerable to lies told by other liberals.” To the contrary! We know they are lies (at least educated liberals do — the same can be said for educated conservatives of course). The question is who is the bigger liar? I held my nose when I voted for Obama this time around. I agree with a lot of his policies, but I disagree with others. My other choice was Romney — and I disagreed with just about all of his policies. I also don’t fool myself into thinking that the President is the one making all the decisions. It’s his executive team — and the influence whispering into the ears of his executive team. Same is true for Congress of course. That is why I tend to focus more on ideas than people because, at least in my lifetime, most of the politicians (in both camps) disappoint on a personal level — for a variety of reasons — but they almost always disappoint. I’ll take a seriously flawed candidate who stands for better policies over a morally sound candidate who stands for awful policies any day of the week. In the latter situation, we will definitely have bad policies, and there is a good chance that it’ll turn out that he wasn’t that moral anyway at the end of the day. As for your cynical, illusory comment — that is a fantastic quote Jack — and it actually sums up my view of many in the GOP.

                    • I agree with Beth.

                      Voting for “ideas”-only means voting for lies, spin and manipulation.

                      I reject this as the nihilism it is. Ideas – aka policy – are not only lies and spin. Sometimes, policy matters.

                      For example, if a candidate who cuts off funding to UNFPA is elected (as Romney would certainly have done), thousands of woman and newborn infants will die for lack of good maternity care, and thousands more will suffer horribly from untreated conditions such as fistula. If that’s an issue that matters to me, it would be unethical for me not to consider that difference when deciding who to vote for.

                      You say that character matters more because someone with poor character would not execute ideas well. But issues like UNFPA funding have nothing at all with executive competence or honesty. Obama restored it by signing a piece of paper; before him, Bush took it away by signing a piece of paper. Not much was required of either executive, but thousands of lives were changed. And that’s one of many dozens of issues.

                      Saying that policies don’t matter is every bit as bad, or worse, than saying character doesn’t matter.

                      Finally, let’s not forget that this wasn’t an election between a demon democrat and a saintly Republican. Romney lied constantly while campaigning, and seemed to have no core principles at all. His only major accomplishment in office – Romneycare – is one that he himself had basically rejected by the time of the campaign.

                      In other words, he acted a lot like a successful high-level American politician, as did Obama. Since the only viable alternative to Obama was someone whose character seems at least as bad as Obama’s, it makes even more sense to vote based on policy.

                    • The position here, but you know this, is that Americans should vote for character rather than the consistent sham of “policy.” Liars lie. Integrity shows. Fairness manifests itself. Lack of respect for others becomes contempt for followers. Poor leaders with good intentions accomplish nothing. The way to have a competent government is to refuse to accept an “ends justify the means” philosophy, and relying on untrustworthy people because they seem to to be on your side is the riskiest, most destructive means there is over the long term.

                    • Jack, suppose there is an election in which neither candidate seems like an especially great person. For the sake of argument, assume that both candidates are about equally mediocre as people and as leaders.

                      How should a voter decide in that case, in your opinion?

                      The way to have a competent government is to refuse to accept an “ends justify the means” philosophy, and relying on untrustworthy people because they seem to to be on your side is the riskiest, most destructive means there is over the long term.

                      I absolutely disagree. This is a commonplace view of how politics work – nearly all partisans see their own guy as a principled, admirable leader, and the other guy as a skunk, and think this is the most important issue – and it is naive, unrealistic, and destructive.

                      What matters much more than individual character is the systematic features of government. If the system rewards stubbornness and CYA, then stubbornness and CYA is what we’ll get. If the system rewards technical competence and intellectual integrity, then technical competence and intellectual integrity is what we’ll get.

                      Focusing on individuals rather than the system isn’t just mistaken. It actively makes it harder to solve our problems, because it ignores the real problems in favor of a naive narrative that has almost nothing to do with how government runs.

              • It did not sway anyone because the majority of the media helped hide it. The cover only had to last until early November, and then it wouldn’t matter.

                And even when the cover would fall – and they had to know it would – it still will mean nothing if the media does not report it. If the media does not inform the people that the Administration lied to them, and LET those men die in Benghazi, then it still won’t have any impact.

                You are assuming a press that actually takes the job of informing the people seriously. This is not the case, and has not been for at least 5 years, likely far more.

            • 1.5 percentage points?

              The man has told us he has had a mandate Jack, that’s worth at least 20 percentage points. In fact the Ministry of Truth recounted and determined it was almost 90% of the nation voting for him.

            • Obama won 51.1 percent of the vote, while Romney won 47.2.. That’s a four point margin, not a 1.5 percent margin. A 2 point swing would have made absolutely no difference to the election’s outcome.

              • Correction appreciated. But 1.9 is still not 2. A two point swing would have had Romney winning the popular vote, which indeed wouldn’t change the “outcome,” but it wouldn’t be insignificant either. I can’t even recall why the issue even arose in the thread, to be honest with you.

                • Right you are – thanks for the correction.

                • Inquiring Mind

                  I may have been one to raise it, so allow me to explain:
                  Part of Obama’s message for re-election boiled down to: “Osama bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is on the run.”

                  The facts we now know about the Benghazi attack – that is was done by an offshoot of al-Qaeda, and that requests for additional security were ignored for months – would have damaged Obama’s credibility on terrorism, possibly severely, had they come out around October 6, 2012 instead of May 6, 2013.

                  So, for the sake of ensuring his re-election, Obama or people under him, began to cover up the truth about Benghazi. Blaming the video was the start, but the real key was that they kept the requests for assistance before and during the attack quiet.

                  Furthermore, if that had happened, and Romney had taken Obama on over Benghazi – it probably have created enough of a swing where Romney would at a minimum, have won the popular vote – and Obama would have been a lame duck practically from the get go, if not having to see Mitt Romney take the oath of office on January 20, 2013.

                  • That’s it. And my feeling is that the public was insufficiently engaged, the media too determined to undermine Romney, and the Administration’s spin machine too adept at muddying waters for this to swing anything much. None of which makes what the Administration did regarding sending out a deceptive narrative for political purposes any less unethical.

                    • Inquiring Mind

                      The media worked to undermine Romney – and did so in two ways:
                      1. They worked to depress conservative turnout, often by trying to make Romney look bad.
                      2. They put much more emphasis on Akin and Mourdock as opposed to Obama’s incompetence.

                    • Oh, come on. I’m sure you can come up with more than two. I can come up with a lot more without even thinking about it very hard. But this isn’t the blog to relitigate the whole disgraceful media coverage of the election.

                  • It also includes the fact that they seem to have actively kept military forces from intervening, and that instead of dealing with the crisis himself Obama went the fuck to bed because he had a fucking fundraiser he wanted to be at the next day.

                    That does not scream “effective, competent leadership” to me…

                    FFS, Stevens was there because Obama appointed him. He sent him there, and did nothing to protect him.

                    I think that is what disgusts me the most…

                    • Beth

                      Yes — bad form on the part of Obama if true. Maybe not as bad though as Bush continuing to read “My Pal Goat” to children after being told the Twin Towers were hit.

                    • Entirely different, Beth.

                      First, there is a very valid argument about not needlessly causing anxiety at that very moment – the kids would get enough of that in the days, weeks, and months to come. By finishing the book first, and then leaving, everything at least seemed normal.

                      Second, there was nothing Bush could do – his direct order was not needed to shoot down planes, or to ground all air traffic. All of that was handled below him in the chain of command. So he didn’t need to get on Air Force One right away to direct anything.

                      Finally, at least Bush was at least AWAKE.

                      Obama, however, was the ONLY PERSON who could authorize military action in Benghazi. So what did he do?

                      He went and made sure he would be well-rested for his flight (which has a fucking bed on it, and probably won’t leave without him) and for his fundraiser the next day.

        • Beth, what determined the election was that too many Republicans, conservatives and others who did not support Mr. Obama nonetheless didn’t care enough and weren’t responsible enough to haul their worthless carcasses to the polls and vote. If Mitt had just received the same amount of support McCain did, and McCain was unpopular with a lot of the Right, Obama would have lost, as he deserved to. It was turnout, and that’s all there was to it. Obama spent the campaign motivating his base, and did a better job of it than the Republicans did. Simple as that.

          • This conservative professor argues, I think persuasively, that the “if Mitt had just received the same amount of support McCain did” argument doesn’t hold up once we look at the state-by-state results.

            Nearly all of McCain’s greater turnout than Romney came from just two huge, non-battleground states – California and New York. In a bunch of battleground states, Romney did better than McCain on turnout.

  9. Finlay O'Shea

    Steve-O, as sad as it makes me to say so, you are correct.

    Also, Dan Rather = colossal douche.

  10. Elizabeth I

    This is not the first Administration that has engaged in cover-ups, lies, and deceit. It is one of the worst, however. Covering up unConstitutional behavior (e.g., Nixon) is one terrible thing; covering up total ineptitude and egotism is a different terrible thing… and the Obama administration is just great at the latter.

    How interesting that now (suddenly) LBJ, his work with Congress on Civil Rights legislation and the tapes of his angst about the Viet Nam War have suddenly grown his popularity? Too bad, Obama, history will not (ever) treat you so well.

    The fact that the Obama administration has engaged the mainstream media so completely in its lies and deceit, and have threatened whistle-blowers, only proved the completely immoral and unethical behavior of this man. He has his followers… but the numbers grow smaller and smaller, and his “legacy” will not be anything like he envisioned. Good.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Obama didn’t take the media anywhere they didn’t let themselves be taken.

    • Covering up unConstitutional behavior (e.g., Nixon)

      Oh please, do tell what unconstitutional behavior Nixon committed…

      • The President violats the Constitution when he obstructs justice, which Nixon undeniably did. His aides were complicit in a burglary, and rather than make sure they were apprehended and prosecuted, he helped devise means of covering up their involvement, thus becoming an accessory after the fact.
        I’ll defend Nixon on a lot of things, but he could easily have been sent to jail.

        • Obstruction of Justice is not a Constitutional crime.

          What he did was criminal, but not “unconstitutional”, unless you are willing to say that Clinton’s obstruction was “unconstitutional”, and I just don’t think it was.

          Again, criminal, just not “unconstitutional”…

          • Nope. The President of the United States, as the executive charged with overseeing a Constutional republic, may not violate the laws of the land and say he is faithfully executing his job. Can’t be done. It’s a violation of the duty of his office.

            • But his violating the laws isn’t a CONSTITUTIONAL issue. It is criminal, yes. I said as much (twice), but it not an unconstitutional act.

              Congressmen take an oath to uphold the Constitution as well, don’t they? Are they committing unconstitutional acts when they break a law? Of course not, they are just being crooks.

              • Congress makes the laws…the executive is charged with enforcing them. Government has no validity or integrity if it breaks its ow laws, and the President is at the top of the government. It’s not unconstitutional to break laws, but for the President to be a lawbreaker violates his implicit duty to uphold the rule of law. Nixon’s solution to this, good lawyer that he was, was to argue that by definition, the President couldn’t break the law–if he did it, it was legal. His argument had the same foundation as mine, but his conclusion was cynical and self-serving.

                • for the President to be a lawbreaker violates his implicit duty to uphold the rule of law.

                  This may be true (and we could argue over whether the President has any more duty to not break the law than any of the rest of us), but it still does not change the nature of the lawless behavior – if it would not be an “unconstitutional act” for me to do it, it isn’t such for any president.

                  And just because government would have no validity or integrity (and I’m sorry, but I giggled at that last word, I would have used “legitimacy”) doesn’t mean the government does not break it’s own laws on a near-daily basis.

                • If the executive is charged with enforcing the law IS a constitutional mandate, then the current administration has violated the constitution far more times than merely Benghazi and Fast and Furious. Or for the invasion of Libya without congressional approval. Or assassinating American citizens via drones. Or dictating when the senate is in session so that he may sidestep congressional approval. Or signs clearly unconstitutional laws (allowing indefinate detention of citizens here on the homeland, curtailing limits on search and seizure, as well as absolutely chilling freedom of religion.) Or enforcing rules and laws that were denounced by congress and subsequently forbidden to enforce by courts. All that aside, this administration PRIDES itself on ignoring the law of the land in return for quick, easy political points.

  11. Michael Ejercito

    Yet he quoted one of the so-called whistleblowers, Greg Hicks, who reportedly told investigators that the Administration, contrary to what Susan Rice was sent out to tell the public and what the President told the world, knew “from the get-go” that the attack wasn’t a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islamic video, but a coordinated terrorist act.

    This is the worst part of the scandal.

    People used the Benghazi attack to attack our First Amendment rights, even going so far as to argue that the Supreme Court should overrule its own precedents .

    That cover-up threatened our freedoms.

  12. Isaac

    Rice infamously and plainly told fellow democrats that she would rather cover up the ongoing Rwandan genocide than risk harm to Democrats in the ’94 election by telling the truth (which was that a genocide was happening, and they were actively campaigning against ANY intervention.) Quite possibly the sleaziest political moment of my lifetime. In no just world goes this woman have ANY kind of publicly funded career.

    Is anyone surprised that she would lie to cover for Obama about this? It’s only 4 people dead this time, not a million.

  13. Cry “Wolf!” top often, and soon both your supporters and detractors will ignore evidence of a real scandal.

    That’s the real and completely bipartisan issue. The Left maligns the Right regardless of the facts, so what they say is only believed by their supporters, and automatically rejected by others. The Right also maligns the Left regardless of the facts, so what they say is only believed by their supporters, and automatically rejected by others.

  14. alakhtal

    DARRELL ISSA needs you to call Dr. Otto Hasslein for him. I am Provocateur Arabspringer of Picassoic Attitude. This is a bit personal and homophobic. I am going neither but I like to set facts straight. The secret service & FBI surely performed a thorough autopsy of Late Ambassador John Christopher Stevens’s Corpse and surely noted alien seminal fluid DNA’s all over his biology besides HIS off course. Would DARRELL E. ESSA quit Redherring? Go kamikaze this time and be honest to probe into Stevens’ Saliva and Rectum Juice? At least to know whose DNA it is? This is the only way to find out who’s that jealous killer beau by his name than grilling an unemployable to school Al-Qaeda how to hit harder US targets elsewhere. Sorry. I can’t help it. Benghazi is Republican Frugals’ JUNKBOND IPO they toss to rig the market and rip-off stockholders. The first rally was thrown to condemn Susan Rice outta State Department Race, the second was to distant Petraeus outta 2016 presidency run and third is next Wednesday when DARRELL ISSA will conduct the Dog and Pony show with one of Donuthole underprivileged to deliver a brand new fiction about AFRICOM, SOCAFRICA & RAO. Braggingly: ‘They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them’. Shut-up.. Cut the crap CHRIS KYLE! Don’t you ever forget that Hillary is the worst nightmare of Republican Frugals next Poll? Benghazi is one. DARRELL ISSA is Maronite Phalangists has no predicament; he’s walking circus. He will exploit Osama boy’s stunt show to hit Hillary harder to quit the race.

  15. Finlay O'Shea

    Obama might have _______, but it is not as bad as Bush ___________(ing).

    What sort of argument is this?
    Serious question.

    • A shitty one. An argument made by people who have no actual argument.

      • Beth

        It wasn’t an argument — it was a comment. I was pointing out (again) that all of our political leaders are flawed and maybe, just maybe, we should ask ourselves if our personal criticism of our political leaders’ objective failures is influenced by our subjective politics. Sheesh.

        • And similarly if our lack of criticism of other leaders is motivated by the same factors. This is an ongoing theme and quest at Ethics Alarms. The pundit class, in all places and directions, with a very few notable exceptions, has failed this test consistently and egregiously.

    • It’s a classic rationalization—two, actually. #2 on my Rationalizations list, as well as “It’s not the worst thing”…the lousiest rationalization of all.

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