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So What Did Obama Call the Benghazi Attack?

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Since the debate there’s been a lot of analysis as to whether the President designated the attack on the U.S. embassy in Bengahzi, Libya, an act of terrorism.

Throughout most of his speech on September 12th, Obama did call it an “attack” and then later in the speech after discussing the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he said:

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned…. As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it…  No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

So it wasn’t clear that he was referring to the Benghazi attack as a terror attack or whether he was speaking about the 9-11 attacks or both. The New York Times reported this morning that on Sept. 13th, at a campaign speech, Obama had said:

And we want to send a message all around the world — anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world….

As they didn’t give the context of the statement, we are left to trust them that he was talking about Benghazi.

Then for about a week, administration officials described the attacks as part of a protest-riot against the the U.S. over the “Innocence of Muslims” video which got out of hand. As Romney attempted to point out during the debate, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice called it “a spontaneous, not premeditated attack response” which was attended by “some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons.” (Here’s a link to a catalogue of quotes from the administration about the attack from the Times).

CNN points out that when he was on “the View,” Obama was asked about how Hillary Clinton had called the attack an act of “terrorism” and whether that was the case. Obama responded saying, “we’re still doing an investigation….”

This looks like a case of semantics overshadowing the main point. Obama did not believe the attack was an act of terrorism. He and his administration’s initial reaction was to play down its significance of the attack. Remember, this is a President who banned the use of the term “War on Terror” in his administration. That’s the point Romney is making and that’s what the discussion should be about.

***

Here’s a good explanation of what the President was referring to when he said “act of terror” in the Rose Garden:

And here’s the debate’s moderator Candy Crowly explaining what she said:

Crowley: Obama’s Teleprompter Substitute

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

We can now fairly assume that both Democrat and Republican analysts concluded that President Obama’s weak performance in the first presidential debate could be attributed to the absence of a teleprompter. The president’s reputation — earned or unearned — as a golden orator cannot be upheld without this prop. So, to level the playing field — as he is fond of saying — he was provided with a flesh and blood teleprompter in the shape of Candy Crowley for the second debate.

It was a Catch 22. If Mitt Romney had pointedly objected to this glaring intervention he would have been seen as the bad sport who shouts at the referee. The same goes for post-debate commentators. You’re not supposed to grumble about the conditions, it makes it look like your guy didn’t hold his own.

From my observation point here in Paris in the middle of the night, the whole setup was skewed. Forgive me if I don’t know the inner workings of the election committee that supposedly ensures a fair fight but I am wondering how in the world they could organize a Town Hall debate composed of 80 undecided voters. Does anyone know how the voters proved they were undecided? Was there a competition to eliminate the less undecided in favor of the truly sincerely undecided? Did they have some kind of test to root out the secretly decided? And how about intelligence? Are the undecided automatically inarticulate or was there another filter that excluded citizens capable of pronouncing a sentence of more than five words containing more than one idea? Why did they all look like props?

I have witnessed dozens of town hall style debates on French television and, trust me, they are never reduced to such first-grade level. When a person intervenes in this kind of discussion, one can perceive something behind the words — call it substance or context or a foundation — that indicates a thought process and life experience that crystallized in a given statement or question. Not so last night. It sounded like a first grade teacher had handed out the questions, matching them up to Johnny, Mary, Alvin, Chris and Rosina on the basis of some silly notion of identity.

Where is this election committee coming from? What is this kindergarten concept of objectivity? Put together eighty people who say they are undecided and all the questions will be equally fair and advantageous to each candidate. Close your eyes and take one moderator from any TV channel — oh my goodness, it’s Candy Crowley from CNN and she’s a woman — and, because she is called the moderator she will moderate.

As if that weren’t enough, Candy Crowley intervened from the very first exchange, like a mother prompting her little boy who forgot his spiel or maybe doesn’t want to brag about his accomplishments. The pattern was set: each candidate would give his answer to the (elementary) question, Candy would call on Barack and throw him some talking points, he would take the cue and do a little performance, and when Mitt Romney tried to do his rebuttal Candy would say that’s enough, let’s go to the next question.

This is a moderator? Why is there only one? If the reality principle had prevailed over the objectivity fallacy there would be two partisan moderators, as well-behaved as the candidates, capable of keeping tabs on each other without getting into a fistfight. A second moderator would have pinned President Obama down on, for example, Fast and Furious. Ms. Crowley let him slip out of it with a homily on good schools and equal opportunity.

Which brings us to Benghazi. First, the question was pathetic. The questioner made a point of saying that it came from a brain trust. How long had these big brains powwowed before coming up with the little bitty question: Is it true that requests for additional security at the Benghazi consulate had been ignored? That’s all the brainies wanted to know? What followed was to democracy what the Benghazi fiasco was to sovereignty. The teleprompter-moderator — who knew the questions in advance — and had apparently reviewed and memorized President Obama’s September 12th Rose Garden talk, intervened to swat down Governor Romney as he looked the president in the eyes and said “You called it an act of terror?”

She grabbed the ball from Obama’s hands and slam dunked it! And the audience applauded. Why in the world did they applaud? I thought they were undecided ergo objective. Why didn’t they emit a collective gasp in horror at Crowley’s totally unacceptable intervention in the debate? Had they too memorized the speech? And forgotten everything said by the president and his men and women since then?

I viewed the video this morning. It prefigures the spin that followed. The incident is called a tragedy not a terror attack. The president criticizes those who denigrate a religion, not those who murder an American ambassador. He pretends that Libyan forces helped, tried to protect, brought the personnel to a safe house, and brought Ambassador Stevens’ body to the hospital where he died. He promises to find out who did it and bring them to justice. In other words, it was a crime not an act of terror. Later, referring to the 9/11 commemoration ceremonies, he claimed that no act of terror against the United States goes unpunished. This was a reference to the elimination of Osama bin Laden. When the president had said what would be his last word before flying off to the fundraiser, a journalist called out: “Was it an act of war?”

But the president wasn’t taking questions.

So it will be up to American voters to answer that one.

Originally published at the American Thinker.

What’s Important to America?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Here on vacation  I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the second debate. I had not seen either the first one or the VP debate, though I saw and read clips. I thought I would be bored; I wasn’t. I hoped I would be impressed – I was…by Mitt Romney.

Obama is a known quantity, struggling again to run not on his record, but on words again. I don’t believe he should be given that grace again. Romney isn’t asking to be judged by his words, and that is refreshing. He wants us to look at what he has done in his life – built a successful business, raised a successful family, governing successfully for his state.

Obama lied. I listened to his suddenly claiming from the start that Libya was a terrorist attack. He said that the day after the attack, before flying off for his next fundraising trip in Las Vegas, that he had condemned the Libyan Consulate attack as a terrorist action and said the U.S. would hunt down those who had perpetrated the crime. That’s not what he said at the time. In fact, it was many lies and two weeks later, before he admitted it was, without question, not the movie but terrorism.

The fact that Candy Crowley tried to help the president out should, justifiably, be ashamed. If there was a loser in last night’s debate, I think it was the moderator. She had the chance to be fair; she wasn’t. She had the chance to truly shape a debate of the people; she chose questions that were what she wanted and asked her own questions.

The president lied about licensing for federal lands. It’s been proven that Romney was, again, speaking the truth and the president was lying. Why were lies allowed?

I had heard this would be a debate focusing on foreign policy and I was interested to hear what Obama thinks about Iran and Israel. It wasn’t covered and I’m still not sure why. Israel was mentioned only once – by Romney in an accusation that Obama has not been supporting Israel. Obama did not respond, did not say anything about Israel. Iran, a major threat to my country, was not mentioned at all.

Again and again, I listened to the questions and I watched Obama. The simple fact is that after being absent at the first debate, as most people felt he was, there was no question that he would do better – and he did. But I don’t think it was enough.

The simple truth is that few are likely to change their vote based on this debate – but hopefully, people will take the time to swim through the lies. Again and again, I turned to my husband and said – well, that’s nice, if only that was the question.

Again and again, the questions came back to what seems to be the most important issue for America – the economy. I heard plans from Romney; I heard words from Obama. When he did speak of plans, I kept wondering why he did not implement those in his first four years. He accused the Republicans of blocking his plans – he is always quick to blame others for his failures. But for the first two years, he had the full support of a Democratically-controlled Senate and House for the first two years he was in office. The Republicans couldn’t have blocked him from doing anything…no?

I found the president to be filled with words…words aimed at creating a picture that he has failed to create in four years. Why should he be given another four? Worse, why would we want to put in a lame duck president at this critical time, who won’t be able to run for another four years and therefore will do whatever he wants.

In short, putting Obama in the White House is just not an option…at least for me, and hopefully not for the majority of Americans.

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Reflections on the Second Presidential Debate

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

This evening’s presidential debate, the second between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, featured some very sharp disagreements over facts that almost no viewers can judge (such as the licenses issued for drilling in federal lands) and agreement on the topics where viewers have strong opinions (such as capitalism).

Perhaps this debate will move those few undecided voters in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, but it leaves the rest of us judging the debate according to which candidate we’d rather have as a dinner companion. Put differently, Romney missed an opportunity by not discussing larger issues but letting himself get mired in details.

Obama got away with saying that he had characterized the attack on the Benghazi consulate as a terrorist incident because the moderator confirmed his point; in fact he misrepresented the facts when he said “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that … this was an act of terror.”

Reince Priebus, the Republican party chairman, instantly seized on this inaccuracy and accused Obama of lying and others are sure to follow suit. This inaccuracy will likely haunt Obama over the next three weeks and turn the Libyan fiasco into an even bigger problem for his reelection campaign. That will matter more than who “won” the debate. (October 16, 2012)

Republished from DanielPipes.org and cross-posted from History News Network.

Did Biden’s Incivility Work For Him?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The morning after last week’s vice presidential debate, Democrats were delighted. Vice President Joe Biden’s obnoxious display was exactly what was needed to cheer them up after a week of morose speculation about why President Obama was so passive and uninspired during the first presidential debate with Mitt Romney.

Indeed, the more Biden giggled, smirked and interrupted Paul Ryan, the better they liked it. While his condescending and bullying behavior contradicted liberal doctrine about conservatives being the ones guilty of polluting the public square with political incivility, it embodied their complete contempt for both Republicans and their ideas.

Biden’s nastiness may have reinvigorated a Democratic base that wanted nothing so much as to tell their opponents to shut up, even if it may have also alienated a great many independents. But it’s not clear the Obama/Biden ticket will benefit from Biden’s performance.

The reason for this is not very complicated. The Democrats cheering on Biden’s bullying, while ignoring the fact that he had nothing to offer on the future of entitlements and his disgraceful alibis about Libya, did so because at bottom they really do not feel Republicans or conservatives are worthy of respect or decency. Though they rarely own up to it, they don’t think Republicans are so much wrong as they are bad.

By contrast, most Republicans think Democrats are wrong, not evil. Ryan, whose polite behavior was entirely proper but was made to appear passive and even weak when compared to his bloviating opponent, demonstrated this paradigm by patiently trying to explain his positions even when he was constantly interrupted.

Hard-core Democrats would have been happy had Obama treated Romney the same way Biden did Ryan, and there were plenty of signs that he shares his number two’s contempt for the opposition. But while a vice president, especially one who has often been treated as something of a national joke during his four years in office, might be allowed to get away with playing the buffoon, a president cannot.

In terms of substance, both Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan had their moments of strength. Ryan was strong on foreign policy, while Biden squirmed and threw the intelligence community under the bus about administration lies about the Benghazi attack. Biden delivered class warfare body blows about Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe.

But the main difference between the two wasn’t so much their competing liberal and conservative ideas and arguments. It was the blatant disrespect shown by Biden for his opponent. Biden mugged throughout the debate almost every time Ryan spoke. He also interrupted the Republican almost at will without moderator Martha Raddatz saying a word to call him to order.

It may be that Democrats were so dismayed by Obama’s passive performance in the first debate that Biden was urged to be more aggressive. But what he did wasn’t merely aggressive; he was openly rude. That may have encouraged the Democratic base, but it remains to be seen whether that is the sort of thing most Americans are comfortable with.

Democratic spinners will say Biden is a “happy warrior,” that his nastiness and aggressiveness bloodied the Republicans and that it doesn’t matter that the way he did it was embarrassing.

They may have a point. People probably won’t decide not to vote for Obama because they think the giggling, smirking and interrupting was beneath the dignity of the office he holds.

If Biden’s job was simply to rally the base and attack his opponents, then his arrogant condescension will help the Democrats regain their momentum after a week in which they’ve lost a lot of ground.

But it is also possible that a lot of those Americans who saw the debate, even those who are Democrats but especially independents and undecided voters, will not think much of a vice president of the United States acting more like a schoolyard bully than a statesman.

Many Democrats will applaud Biden’s buffoonery and falsely claim that it was no different from Romney’s demeanor in the first debate even though there is no possible comparison.

Republicans can console themselves that while Ryan did seem a little nervous at times, he wasn’t intimidated. Nor did Biden succeed in painting Ryan as the monster that the Democrats claim him to be.

Vice President…Or Chuckles The Clown?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

While it is still unclear whether the clear victory by Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate two weeks ago will amount to a more than a mere bump in terms of his popularity, or whether Vice President Joe Biden’s aggressiveness in last week’s vice presidential debate stanched the bleeding, we certainly have been witness to some troubling developments over the past couple of weeks.

We fully understand why President Obama would have wanted to take a different approach this week in his second go-round with Mr. Romney, but was that the most significant issue facing the free world in the past two weeks? Is that the message we want to send?

One would think so, at least from the scope of the media attention devoted to the nuts and bolts of the president’s debate preparation – attention eagerly abetted by an administration eager to portray the president as training hard for the second bout.

One is almost embarrassed to ask this, but how could the president of the United States have functioned these past several days as leader of the free world if he has been devoting all his time and energy to cramming for his encounter with Gov. Romney? Does he really require that much preparation? What will world leaders think of our president the next time he sits opposite them?

And then there was the matter of Vice President Biden’s performance in his debate with Congressman Paul Ryan. There was much politicking by both of them on the issues, as would be expected. Yet certain things emerged that seemed beyond politics.

First and foremost, Mr. Biden’s odd demeanor did nothing to enhance the image of the office of the vice president of the United States. His odd gesticulations, strange grins, wild head-shakes and countless interruptions made us wonder if this is someone who can be taken seriously – or whom we should feel comfortable with a heartbeat away from the presidency.

But it was not just the theatrics that were troubling, though troubling they certainly were. He made statements that he had to know were at best inconsistent with the public record.

Mr. Biden lambasted Mr. Ryan for having voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and said that he himself voted against them:

And by the way, they talk about this great recession like it fell out of the sky, like, oh my goodness, where did it come from? It came from this man [Cong. Ryan] voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug plan on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for a – very wealthy. I was there, I voted against them. I said no, we can’t afford that….

Yet the Congressional Record lists one Joseph Biden as having voted on September 14, 2001, for the resolution that authorized “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

And on October 11, 2002, then-Sen. Biden is listed as having voted for the resolution authorizing unilateral military action in Iraq.

When asked about the president’s relationship with Israel’s prime minister, Mr. Biden waxed effusive, despite the fact that Mr. Obama’s periodic snubbing of Mr. Netanyahu has been widely reported:

Now, with regard to Bibi, he’s been my friend for 39 years. The president has met with Bibi a dozen times. He’s spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he’s spoken to anybody. The idea that we’re not – I was in a – just before he went to the UN, I was in a conference call with the – with the president, with him talking to Bibi, for well over an hour in-in-in-in-in stark relief and detail about what was going on….

At one point Mr. Biden responded to Mr. Ryan’s charge that a requirement in Obamacare – that employers other than churches provide coverage for contraception – infringed on the rights of church-affiliated institutions:

With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy – any hospital – none has to pay for contraception. None has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.

The real fact, however, is that a number of Catholic institutions are currently suing the federal government over this very issue. Indeed, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement the day after the debate saying Mr. Biden’s claim “is not a fact.”

Why Obama is Likely to Blow Debate No. 2

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The short answer is: because he’s got nothing.  There is no record to run on, no argument to make for four more years.  The ideology that drives him is outdated and bankrupt.  He has, in fact, implemented his policies – Republicans have had little means of stopping him – and those policies are the problem.

But there’s a slightly longer answer too.  Obama’s advisors will read the mainstream media assessment of the vice-presidential debate – they actually think a debate that turned women across America off of Biden was a draw, or a Biden win – and conclude that what the president needs to do is find his inner Joe Biden.  Appeal to his base by going on the attack, perhaps interrupting, being visibly annoyed at the trend of Romney’s statements, and vigorously asserting untruths in the interest of racking up effective soundbites.

Petulant attack-doggery isn’t Obama’s style, so I don’t predict that he will simply adopt the Biden posture for this week’s debate.  What I do think is that Obama and his handlers will be looking to enhance the president’s trademark pace and balance in public speaking (which does descend rather often into a sonorous drone) with more Biden-like spice.  This won’t come naturally to Obama, any more than his occasionally put-on “black accent” sounds natural.  It’s not who he is, and he won’t be good at it.

Of course, the townhall format this week can be worked to Obama’s advantage, and no doubt will be.   Obama need not be thrown softballs, but he will get questions framed to suit the answers he is likely to have – and he probably won’t be troubled much with questions framed in a confrontational manner.

Romney probably will be.  He will have to think more quickly on his feet, turning hostile questions into jumping-off points for getting his message across, while conveying a sense of goodwill and avoiding red herrings.  If there is a “silly question” for the debaters – say, “If you were an Oscar-winning movie, which one would you be?” – it may well be barbed with false implications about conservatism, Republicans, or even Romney himself.

Romney will have more choices to make in his approach and substance.  There are a lot of things he could say; what will be the most effective?  We can reasonably suppose he will perform again as well as he did in Debate 1.

Obama doesn’t have those choices, because he’s trying to stay in office – to tend cronies and inflict ideological constraints on the people – using arguments that don’t accurately represent what he’s been doing for nearly four years.  He has no intention of changing course, regardless of what the current course is inflicting on the American people.  Yet he can’t argue in the campaign for his current course – at least not to anyone but his base – because it is so ridden with failure and the scent of corruption.  Americans continue to turn against his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and even the New York Times is beginning to doubt the effectiveness of his foreign policy.

So we can expect to hear more about Romney giving a “$5 trillion tax break” to the richest Americans, along with the other canards about Romney-Ryan policy (e.g., tossing Grandma off the cliff) being trotted out over and over by the Obama campaign.  These mendacious soundbites have lost their impact, but what else does Obama have?  Personal attacks on Romney?

If the president makes a decision on retaliating in Libya before Tuesday night, he may be able to speak at the debate from a perspective of putative decisiveness, the commander-in-chief moving forces around.  A new line of tactical operations would blunt Romney’s justifiable criticism of how the White House has handled the whole matter.  I don’t foresee this dynamic winning the debate for Obama – a belated military response has little hope of trumping the public’s nearer-to-home concern about the U.S. economy, the national debt, and constitutional freedoms – but if it comes off, it will probably be gratifying for his Amen corner in the MSM.

Gratifying them is not enough, however.  Whether he plays to his base or the MSM, Obama will not be playing to the constituency that matters: the majority of likely voters.  His appeal to that constituency in 2008 depended on his being an unknown quantity, and that’s what he no longer is.  Obama doesn’t have any more tricks in his bag.  This is it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/why-obama-is-likely-to-blow-debate-no-2/2012/10/16/

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