Blaise Pascal, PenseĆ© 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From Debate Moderator to Debate Participant: Crowley's Big Gaffe

Candy Crowley made a big mistake during last night's debate. She injected herself as fact-checker on the Libya embassy issue, which was way beyond her brief as moderator. Here is the exchange:

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.
MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.
So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
One of the most stunning things about this exchange is that Crowley obediently responds to President Obama’s request to repeat what she said.

Like so much "fact-checking" this actually offers an interpretation and a particularly loaded one, as Crowley got a laugh from the crowd for correcting Romney. But Romney was arguably right.

(President Obama Speak on Attack on Benghazi, Sept 12.)

President Obama never calls the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi specifically a "terrorist act," and for two weeks thereafter, nothing that came from the White House called it a terrorist act. At the end of a long speech, the President makes a general
statement “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, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America." He refrains from putting the Benghazi attack specifically into either into the category of "act of terror," or "terrorist act" or "terrorism." Instead, he's cagey. He leaves whether Benghazi fits into this category hanging. This makes a difference--and it certainly was not up to Crowley to correct Romney on a mistake he did not even make.

President did mention terror and acts of terror in context with the Benghazi attack on several other occasions without ever quite saying that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist act, and it was always mixed up with crowds and the video, with much more emphasis on the later. This was Susan Rice's focus. The best you can make out of this is that the State Department was in a fog about what had actually happened and was therefore putting out appropriately foggy language, not wanting to say it was a terrorist attack, not wanting to say it wasn't--but given that State was in real time contact with the Embassy for six hours during the attack, why would there be this ambiguity? Why the non-specific language and the narrative about the crowds and the video? And why two weeks of this? That is a question that needs to be addressed.

After the debate, Crowley seemed to recognize herself that she'd crossed from debate moderator to debate participant:

Jason Chaffetz (Republican, Utah), in the panel discussion with Crowley, below, nails the problem; Crowley is giving an interpretation of Obama's speech--and this is not her place.

(See Rep. Jason Chaffetz starting at 3:40 into this video)

When Crowley interviewed John McCain a few weeks ago, she was clearly generalizing about the White House narrative about Benghazi in the same way that Romney did in the debate. McCain has more insight into Benghazi than anyone than anyone I've listened to yet; see the video with Crowley at this link: Protest in Response to Video?

I do not agree with John T. Bennett, below, that Romney made a "Rose Garden Gaffe." Nevertheless, Bennett goes to the heart of the issue: this really is a coverup:

"In a letter sent this week to Obama by Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican asked several straightforward but important questions: “Mr. President, were you informed of these attacks on our Libyan consulate? If not, why not? Did you consider these serious events? If you were informed, what action was taken to protect the consulate?
"Did we get any answers to those questions? Not one."
Beyond the Rose Garden Gaffe: No New Details on Libya Attack

For a full review of the consistent refusal of the Obama administration to call the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack / act of terror / terrorism--pick your label--is made fully clear in the Fox News review in the blog entry entitled "The Holes in the Libya Narrative" on this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I cringed when I heard this portion of the debate on the radio. I sensed she was going to step in it the moment she opened her mouth.