What happened in Benghazi?

The President’s re-election campaign is beginning to look like an out-of-control game of Whack-a-Mole.

They say the President doesn’t have an agenda for the next four years. Quick! New 20 page agenda pamphlet entitled “The New Economic Patriotism.” Whack!

The President is losing his edge with women. Quick! New ad with tramp-stamped, big-nosed, androgynous co-ed on how to lose it big time with metrosexual O. Whack!

The President is now behind in five out of six major national tracking polls! Quick! Summon Huff Po Vet Nate Silver, Bob Shrum, Jonathan Cohn (heck, throw in the whole New Republic writers staff) to rally the troops and prove by algebra that Ohio (it begins with an O!) is all that matters and we hold Ohio! Whack! Whack! Whack!

They say the President is covering up something reaallly baaad on this Benghazi bul…, er, horsefeathers. Uh.

Honestly, what is this Benghazi thing all about? Four Americans are dead and the President wants to,… wants to what exactly? Appoint a blue ribbon death commission and lock the whole thing up until spring? I don’t think this is going to work quite the same as fanning on the $16 trillion debt did. Someone is going to notice.

So what is it all about? Terrorist attack in Benghazi. Administration casts blame on lunatic indie filmmaker. Evidence surfaces that attack was (in contrast to protests in Cairo) unrelated to film. Administration continues to point spotlight on youtube video. Email to numerous State Department officials turns up from the day after the attack indicating no protest, just planned attack. And now, Fox News reports that CIA in Benghazi begged for help from higher-ups and that someone, somewhere refused to send it and two men died, possibly unnecessarily, after (is this true?!?) taking out sixty or so of the bad guys!

Let’s take this one piece at a time.

First of all, what about the film? We are, alas, accustomed to zombie Islamic fundamentalist radicals getting their knickers all twisted up when modern people in their clean modern countries start laughing at them. Among Islamic Fundamentalists it seems that “the latest rage” is kind of a literal thing…not just the reaction to, say, the new iPhone. So look. I have an idea. Let’s just not laugh at them anymore, okay? I cannot think of one single thing about Islam or the Prophet or the whole Muslim world that is funny. Can you? No. I didn’t think so.

But let’s get back to the President and his focus on the film. Mr. Obama did claim that he called the attack an act of terror the day after. Now, the President did, in his Rose Garden remarks the day after the attack, actually utter the word “terror.” He said the magic word, he should win five hundred dollars.

But, here’s the point. The Administration seems to have deliberately continued to spread what can only be described as an absurd interpretation of the attacks at least two weeks after it should have been obvious that the youtube thing was irrelevant.


Possible reason 1. The Administration told us that Al Qaeda was on the run. A focused terror attack on 9/11/2012 belies that. To avoid having to admit that Al Qaeda was not yet defeated we have to pretend that the whole thing was a peaceful protest against bigotry in America that, you know, got a little out of hand.

This does not ring true to me and it never has. No one expected America never to be attacked by Islamic radicals again. No one, in the face of an attack, would say to the President: “you told us the war on terror was over!!! You lied to us!!!” This does not mean that I think that the Administration is incapable of lying. It means that this is an illogical motivation for this particular lie.

Possible reason 2. The Administration thought, for two weeks, that it really was just a hippy sit-in gone terribly, terribly wrong. Fog of war, you know.

The Associated Press is now reporting on interviews in Libya with actual witnesses, saying that the terrorists tried to get some “youths” to chant angry things about the youtube video as a cover for their attack. So the AP is trying to help Mr. Obama et al. whack this particular mole.

However, this doesn’t make any sense either. A firefight rages through the night, with mortar fire, and this is supposed to be a spontaneous outbursts of disgruntled movie fans? The people in the Obama Administration just aren’t that stupid. I believe that by the time the battle was over, the smoke cleared, and the Americans were dead, President Obama and his Administration knew full well that the attack had been a pre-planned terrorist attack by “professional” forces.

So, if it is preposterous to think that the electorate would blame you (rather than rally behind you!) for one terrorist attack in a world as chaotic and dangerous as the one we live in, then why, President Obama, would you lie about it?

Possible reason 3. Something else.

The Obama Administration is not lying because they claimed that Al Qaeda was defeated and this would prove them wrong. They are lying because they screwed up in managing the situation in real time, failed to intervene in time to save the two former Navy Seals, and they need an excuse for their inaction. Perhaps their inaction was a belief, at least at first, that the battle was being waged against a spontaneously angry mob. They could arguably not just start bombing angry civilians. By the time they were certain that it was a coordinated attack it was too late to move in. Maybe they kept expecting it to end but our guys continued to fight longer than they imagined.

They feigned a belief, or at least a story, for two weeks that four Americans were killed by an angry mob because they themselves believed, for perhaps two hours, that that was what they were fighting. They let two Americans die because they were fooled and then hesitated. They profoundly wish to believe that their hesitation was justified.

This seems more plausible to me.


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