This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published October 12, 2012 on The Washington Times website.
You know it’s bad when the president deputizes Big Bird as his thuggish surrogate. Aside from Big Bird’s checkered past as a well-to-do federal welfare recipient, wouldn’t Joe Biden or Oscar the Grouch put up a better fight?
Mr. Biden did his best Thursday night in the vice presidential debate. He seemed to relish the role of a windbag bully. But Rep. Paul Ryan’s command of the facts made Mr. Biden look overwrought.
Far more serious than commandeering Big Bird or unloosing Joe the Bully is the administration’s pack of lies surrounding the murderous Sept. 11 attack this year on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The pattern of deception is so complete, obvious and shocking that if America had a real “mainstream” media, the election would be over.
Alas, more and more, America’s media resemble the state-controlled press in Venezuela, where, despite an exit poll showing him losing, President for Life Hugo Chavez easily won another six-year term on Oct. 6. The opposition party was limited to three minutes of advertising per day, while Mr. Chavez opined on the airwaves as long as he wanted. Think of a nation that has slipped into the Twilight Zone, where the only channel is MSNBC.
Speaking of the Twilight Zone, the Obama administration was neck-deep in it following the Benghazi murders. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and various White House flacks all peddled the story for more than a week that the attack was a spillover of a riot over the Internet video “Innocence of Muslims.”
As late as eight days after the killings of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “Based on the information we had at the time and have to this day, we do not have evidence that it was premeditated.”
Even before the Republican-led Capitol Hill hearing, the administration’s story fell apart like a rotten burlap bag. No protest over the video occurred before the attack. The military-type assault, complete with rocket-launched grenades, began suddenly, with al Qaeda’s fingerprints all over it.
Warnings had surfaced about a possible Sept. 11 attack. However, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department dismissed a request by the regional security officer to keep a 16-member military force in Tripoli. The administration recklessly botched security and lied to the American people for days about the killings. As Rep. Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania Republican, noted in a recent Washington Times column, more than 230 security incidents occurred in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012, with 48 of them in Benghazi. Those included a bombing of the compound on April 6 and another one two months later.
Friday’s Washington Post editorial “Misreading Benghazi” advises everyone to “forget the ‘cover-up'” and calls Republican claims “overblown.” The Obama administration was the victim of “confused assessments and even more confused rhetoric,” The Post said.
The colossal prevarications make the Watergate scandal look like petty politics. Americans don’t like being lied to about matters of life and death. We can forgive a lot, apparently, if the lies are merely sordid. After all, President Clinton got re-elected even though nobody mistook him for George Washington. It helped that he had a Republican Congress that reformed welfare and held down spending. It also helped that Mr. Clinton seemed a likable lug. He has a way of winking at you without winking.
By contrast, Mr. Obama comes off as a condescending, left-wing college professor with false jocularity. His signature, upbeat sentence enders tell the listener that the case is closed: Argue with me only if you want a bad grade.
After Mitt Romney revealed Mr. Obama’s brittle side, the media are finding it more difficult to sell their narrative of a fearless, peerless communicator. They’re still ignoring Mr. Obama’s radical origins, crony corruption, bizarre religious history, sealed academic records, openly racist Justice Department, power-mad Environmental Protection Agency and curious, to say the least, job-creation numbers. The average reporter still portrays Mr. Obama as a unifying, reassuring moderate.
When a multitude of scandals exploded around Mr. Clinton, most of them related to his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, many wondered how he was able to hang on. “The simple explanation is that Clinton is the Great Prevaricator,” the late Joe Sobran surmised. “He doesn’t merely fib a little. Lies ripple outward from him in great waves, through his aides, friendly members of the press. Getting others to spread his lies and smear his enemies is part of his modus operandi.”
Indeed, during Monicagate, the White House redirected the press to scrutinize Kenneth Starr, the straight-arrow special prosecutor. One reporter mentioned darkly that Mr. Starr even hummed hymns during his morning jogs. What an extremist.
Mr. Clinton’s prevarications weren’t about terrorism but centered on a man and his zipper. This was so interesting that the press ignored the far more serious scandal of Chinese communist money pouring into Democratic Party coffers after Mr. Clinton facilitated the flow of U.S. missile technology to Beijing. In Mr. Obama’s case, the media are focusing not on a lesser scandal but on the Republicans’ expose of the Benghazi debacle.
In the face of the administration’s monstrous breaches of public trust, the media reflexively repeat Democratic operatives’ charges that a liar is running loose. It’s — Mitt Romney! That’s right: Mr. Romney’s the big liar, not Mr. Obama.
This tactic — accusing opponents of doing exactly what you are doing in order to distract, confuse and create moral equivalence — is a devilishly effective narcotic: “They all do it, so whose hands are clean?” It was invented by the same person who came up with “Hath God really said?”
Look at Big Bird. Look at the mean Republicans picking on the State Department. Look at anything but the shocking lies coming out of the White House.