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September 21, 2012 SHARE

The Gaffe Patrol shoots blanks

By Wes Pruden
“Government intelligence” sounds like an oxymoron, and maybe that’s why Barack Obama usually skips his daily intelligence briefings. He prefers to get up to date on his iPad.

There’s plenty to get up to date on. Campaign trivia is all the rage, mostly because trivia is what campaign correspondents understand best, but there’s real news out there. We’re seeing the daily grim result of Mr. Obama’s apologetic outreach to the Muslims.
The American embassy in Pakistan battens down under siege. The prime minister of Iraq, thought to be an American ally, beats the dead horse on which the infamous video rides. Protests and demonstrations shut down a U.S. consulate in Indonesia. Crowds in Afghanistan chant death for America (when they aren’t killing American soldiers.)

But serenity is the rule in Washington. The president prefers life in his bubble, where he can survey the world as he imagines it is, eager to hear another speech, rather than the world as it really is, full of bad people on their way to the mosque and keen to kill, maim and dismember Americans to please Allah. If only Israel would behave and the First Amendment disappear. Peace and love would envelop us all.

Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, and Jay Carney, the presidential mouthpiece, gave him – and the rest of the world – a lot of misinformation (and maybe even disinformation) about the assault on the Benghazi consulate, and now they have to admit that everything they said was wrong.

They shamelessly peddled the pernicious nonsense that the assault was a spontaneous fit of anger, maybe even righteous anger, by Islamic zealots upset by a home-made video. The White House hooted at the idea that the assault was “pre-planned,” even when the president of Libya said everything he knew about the attack told him it was planned. Ignorance about weapons is highly prized at this White House, and neither Miss Rice nor Mr. Carney know the difference between a BB gun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Otherwise they would understand that heavy weapons do not spontaneously appear on the streets, not even in places where the mobs are inspired by the religion of peace.

The White House lie was swallowed whole by the compliant media, but eventually the facts grew legs and a voice, however reluctant and timid. Mr. Obama’s government at last has to acknowledge what everybody else could readily see, that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was “a terrorist attack.” Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, died at the hands of terrorists.

“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our [consulate],” Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee under sharp questioning by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. But the reluctant spook wouldn’t quite surrender the whole White House lie that the attack was spontaneous, and not “pre-planned.”

The ambassador, it now turns out, was worried about security at the embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi, and his personal safety as well. The Libyan government said it warned the American three days before the planned and co-ordinated assault in Benghazi, but nobody was listening. The word never got inside the bubble.

The president had his usual media help in spinning the news, and Mitt Romney’s criticism of the president for being asleep at the switch was widely described as a “gaffe.” But now it’s clear that Mr. Romney was right and the Gaffe Patrol was shooting blanks. Polls show that approval of the president’s handling of foreign policies – such as knowing what to do when an enemy strikes – is down 5 points. Worse, after all the huffing and puffing about Romney “gaffes” about Libya and his remarks about “the dependency society,” who pays taxes and who doesn’t, Gallup’s daily tracking poll put the race Thursday as dead even again, 47 points for the president, 47 points for the challenger.

It gets worse. A new poll taken for the American Jewish Committee says the president’s support among Jews in Florida is down 7 percentage points from 2008. This represents 50,000 Jewish voters, more than enough to tip the result to the Republicans in a race as tight as the 2012 race appears to be.

The news is enough to make a president put his iPad away and go to sleep, and be grateful for the security of his bubble, and dream dreamy dreams of Susan Rice and Jay Carney and their tales of the Arabian slights.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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