Many of you are too young to remember Chappaquiddick. A married Senator, Ted Kennedy, driving home from a party late one night, with a young woman not his wife, lost control of his car, possibly (probably) because alcohol was involved, and when his car plunged off the Chappaquiddick bridge, into the dark and murky water, only one person made it out of the wreck alive. One person who did not call authorities, did not make every attempt to rescue his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, and then huddled with lawyers and political consultants to see if they could craft some plausible story that would preserve his political viability. Yes, it was tragic that a young woman lost her life, but, just think what great things he could do as a Senator, or even President someday, but certainly not if this young woman's death was laid at his doorstep. Not if his seeming cowardice and indecision made him unfit to be the nation's Commander-in-Chief.
Fast forward 43 years, to Barack Obama, who wasn't quite eight when Teddy Kennedy's Oldsmobile proved to be a less than satisfactory floatation device. I see a parallel in the Benghazi scandals. Yes. Scandals, plural.
First, was the negligence that preceded the attack. The administration put out the statement that Libya is a "dangerous place". The administration is a master of understatement. The State Department reported over 200 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. Roughly one fourth of those were in Benghazi. The US mission was the last Western presence in Benghazi. The Brits pulled out in June and the Red Cross pulled out in August after Rocket Propelled Grenade attacks on each. Add to that, the US mission had already been bombed twice this year.
If it was so important we be there, when all our Western allies were exercising the better part of valor, why wasn't it important enough to provide adequate security, or at least a Marine presence? Was the administration foolish enough to believe their own press clippings about "getting bin Laden" and al-Qaeda being "on the run"? Is this merely what Leon Panetta calls "Monday morning quarterbacking"? Or do two bombs, two RPG attacks that chased the last of your allies out of the country, added to two score and more violent incidents in Benghazi, constitute a cause for added security, if not a strategic withdrawal? And perhaps, even much more so on the anniversary of 9/11? Scandal one.
Scandal two is the response of the administration as the attack was taking place. This is potentially the biggest of the three. From the start of the attack until its conclusion was around seven hours. We had troops on standby in Italy, two hours away, staged and trained for contingencies such as this. We had instantaneous communication from our people in Benghazi at the start of the attack. Shortly after, we had real time video from surveillance drones overhead and we had people taking fire. According to some sources, the president himself was actually watching the video feed in real time. Given the circumstances and protocols, it is certainly plausible. We may have even had a C-130 gunship in close proximity, which was recalled, and the General, responsible for ordering the aircraft on station, being relieved by the C-in-C, if certain accounts are to be believed.
Senator John McCain is on the record as saying the White House was "either grossly incompetent or covering (something) up". Recently a CIA spokesperson said,
"No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate."So, the CIA stood ready, the military stood ready...why was there apparently no one in the White House to make a "gutsy call"? Did they in fact override someone else who made a "gusty call"? Or did someone make a purely political calculation? That this close to the election, especially after crowing for a week and thumping his scrawny chest at the Charlotte convention that he, Obama, had "gotten" bin Laden and al-Qaeda was "on the run", that terrorism might not have been vanquished by Obama's magic bullet? That perhaps instead of a continual draw down, preceding the exit of our troops from the region, our forces might need to remain or even realize a temporary escalation of forces, in order to bring greater stability to the region. I'd suggest that Obama seek this recommendation from our generals in the field and not the concierge at the Bellagio, no matter how similar their uniforms may look to him.
How badly might Obama's political viability be diminished if it turned out his Pollyanna view of terrorism, the war on terror and terrorist threats, had no basis in reality? Someone at the very highest levels of the Obama administration, if not Obama himself, made a conscious effort to do nothing to save those Americans in peril, fighting for their very lives against overwhelming odds, hoping and praying that someone would come to their rescue.
What did Obama know and when did he know it? Then, what exactly did he do about it? He has been asked these questions point blank, and evades the questions by promising more investigations... that will conclude sometime after the November elections. Convenient. However, Obama does not need to launch an investigation to tell us what he knew and when he knew it. All it requires is a backbone, something we generally require in our Commanders-in-Chief. But, don't hold your breath.
Scandal three is the bewildering, ham handed attempt to cover up a naked act of terrorism with some fairy tale about an obscure video, and the escalation of a demonstration that never took place. For weeks, Obama and his surrogates spread the tale of a video, or maybe the trailer for a video, on You Tube, that maligned the prophet Mohammed. Five times on the Sunday shows after the attack, Obama's ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, was unequivocal that the video was the cause of the violence, and yet within hours, if not minutes of the attack, the White House knew this not to be the case. Jay Carney, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Obama himself all took turns at trying to sell this "unforeseeable escalation of an angry mob, because of a video" meme, when at least half of them did and all of them should have known it was false. It seems our first black president wants to go down as the first black President with a massive, Watergate style cover up all his own. What? Fast and Furious wasn't enough??
Ted Kennedy wasn't man enough to take responsibility for what he did, and did not call for help to save the life of Mary Jo Kopechne, because he feared the political consequences, i.e., the end of his political ambitions. Barack Obama wasn't man enough to call for help, for even a remote chance to save the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods or Glen Doherty, because it would draw attention to his failed foreign policies and might jeopardize his re-election chances, and spell the end of all his political ambitions and the perquisites that come with the office.
Here was Obama's chance to make a genuine "gutsy call". To go down in history as a C-in-C that left no man behind, at least, not if he could help it. There was no guarantee of success, just a guarantee of failure if nothing was done. Obama could have even asked for volunteers, from among those dedicated to defending their country and fellow citizens, and as a way of life believed in leaving no man behind. They could stand alongside men who themselves had charged into harm's way, against orders, because they could not sit idly by while their fellow countrymen were slaughtered. (Unlike some other REMF, "lead from behind" weenies in the White House situation room we could mention.) Obama could have at least make an effort to rescue those Americans in Libya. Or he could dither and diddle until it was too late to do anything but crawl off to bed and get ready for a campaign fundraiser in Vegas the next day, and then Letterman, and so on. After all, there were just a handful of them. More people than that die on any given weekend in Chicago, right Mr. President?
We know which course he chose. Faced with a genuine "gutsy call" the Ditherer-in-Chief dithered. And brave men died. And then, like Teddy Kennedy before him, Obama was too cowardly to either make the hard call or to stand up like a man for what he did. So he huddled with lawyers and political consultants to see if he could craft some plausible story that would preserve his political viability. He pressed his Secretary of State, UN ambassador and press secretary, into service to help him sell the story, and then he left for Vegas to laugh with and schmooze his big donor buddies. Funny how he told America not to spend money in Las Vegas (which hurt the economy there), because it was too much a sign of opulence, and then it's the place he bee lines for, after perhaps the one most disgraceful act of his (or any) presidency, and he doesn't see a problem with it.
The details are still slowly oozing out, like a festering wound, each revelation worse than the one before. From the time I write this until the time you read it, who knows what further revelation will expose?
And like Teddy before him, Obama's seeming cowardice and indecision make him unfit to be the nation's Commander-in-Chief. Teddy Kennedy put on a fake neck brace for sympathy, at least for as long as it took for him to tell his story to a judge. Someone should get Barack a neck brace. He can wear it to Mitt's inauguration.
Cross posted at LCR, Say Anything.