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Thursday, October 18, 2012

I waited a day for the dust to settle so to speak before I decided to write on the Libya debate question kerfuffle.  

This is the statement that President Obama said in the Rose Garden the day after the Benghazi attack: 

"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."

At the beginning of his speech the President condemns the attack calling it "outrageous" and "shocking".  Then a few lines later he goes on to call the attack "senseless" and "brutal".  Then later on his speech Obama talks about the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  It is after this part of the speech when he states "acts of terror".  Nowhere in his speech did he specifically label the attack on Benghazi as an act of terror.  It is not far off that one make an inference and conclude that when he stated "acts of terror" he was including the attack on Benghazi in that generalized statement since in his speech he was talking about the attack on Benghazi.  But Obama did not specifically call out the Benghazi attack as "terrorism" or "an act of terror".  Obama used the words "acts of terror" in a lawyerly weasel kind of way giving himself wiggle room so later on he could either claim yes I did call the Benghazi attack an act of terror if it did turn out to be a terrorist attack or deny it if the attack didn't turn out to be an act of terrorism.  I would call this political CYA. 

Here are some other opinions on the tenuously heated exchange: 

Politico's Dylan Byers: "After the debate, even Crowley seemed to acknowledge that she had erred."
Even Politico's Mike Allen is questioning Crowley's call.
 Even Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler says Crowley got it wrong: Obama "did not say terrorism."

Candy Crowley did admit both during the debate and in an interview with Anderson Cooper afterward that Mitt Romney 's main point was correct.  The Obama administration went around for almost two weeks claiming that the attacks happened because of some obscure movie trailer on Islam which was posted on YouTube when it was in fact a planned attack which happened on the anniversary of 9/11.  Obama and the rest of his team consistently blamed the YouTube video for causing a spontanious uprising and it wasn't until about two weeks after the attack on Benghazi that the Obama administration admitted that the killing of our U.S. ambassador in Libya along with three other Americans was in fact an act of terrorism. 

In the context of a debate a moderator's job is to monitor the minutes a candidate speaks, tell them time's up, keep the debate moving, to ask the questions, and could be to try and make sure the candidates actually answer the question that was asked.  But it is not in the moderator's purview to make declarative statements as to what is true or false during the debate. She is not supposed to be a "fact checker".  But after listening to her explanation yesterday as to why she reacted the way she did I can sympathize with her feeling like she was dealing with two children who demanded to know who was right. But I still think the correct response would have been to say we will look up the transcript to see who is right and post it on our website later on. 


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