Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Mitt Romney is not an attorney, so maybe it's understandable that he botched his attempt to cross-examine the president tonight at the debate. The first rule of cross-examination is that you never ask a question to which you do not already know the answer. That means if you are going to question a witness about an event that is videotaped or transcribed, you had better be thoroughly familiar with the answers the witness previously gave.
ROMNEY: I -- I think it's interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.

It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: 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.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror...

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
Here is what the president actually said in his Rose Garden remarks: “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.”

Since Mitt Romney was never trained as a trial lawyer, maybe it's unfair to criticize him for his poor technique which allowed an answer to his own question to blow up in his face like that (the trial lawyer's worst nightmare). On the other hand, it does seem fair to criticize Romney for his disrespectful attitude toward the president, for his poor preparation and lack of attention to detail, and for his tendency to make sweeping statements without much regard for the truth.

I want to say something else about this whole Libya controversy, because it strikes me as unbelievably hypocritical for the Republicans in Congress, their party's presidential candidate, and their media allies to be trying to create a scandal out of the tragic murder of our ambassador in Benghazi.

When more than 200 marines were killed in their barracks in 1983 by a terrorist truck bomb, that was viewed as some kind of mishap that just happened, and President Reagan responded by simply turning tail and pulling out of Lebanon. We didn't see the Republicans in Congress calling for an inquiry even though the administration had received warnings that our forces were sitting ducks out in the Beirut Airport. And after nearly 3000 Americans were killed on September 11, 2001, we were supposed to understand that as some kind of out-of-the-blue event, and it's still viewed as almost unpatriotic to suggest that the Bush administration should perhaps have considered beefing up airport security in response to fairly specific warnings about Al Qaeda plans for some kind of action on U.S. soil.

But when our ambassador and others were killed in Libya (in the consulate in Benghazi by the way, not in the embassy), the same Republicans who want to cut funds for embassy security, are ready to charge the administration with criminal negligence for failing to prevent the attack, and for a slightly confused response to it. This is not a dignified response to a tragedy; it is a cheap political attack. And it serves Mitt Romney right that part of his cheap attack blew up in his face.


  1. In the Rose Garden on the 12th of September the President gave a great talk to the country. He reminded America that we were already in pain as we remembered 9/11 from a decade earlier. He talked about walking through the Arlington cemetery to pay tribute to those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then he said no act of terror will stop America’s resolve.

    Earlier in his address he talked about our tolerance as a nation when it comes to religion and that nothing justifies what happened in Benghazi; laying out the argument that it was the video that caused the attack on the consulate.

    The final attack that killed our ambassador and three others followed probing attacks on the same consulate earlier with no real response, an attack on the Red Cross and an attack on another foreign official.

    Of course the President said the word terror as part of the Rose Garden talk. Then on 9/20 he said “we know the natural protest that arose because of the outrage over video was used by extremist to harm US interest.“

    Let’s agree that on the 12th the President was referring to the attack on the consulate as the result of an organized, prolonged military attack by some arm of a terrorist group; not as a result of a natural protest due to the video.

    Then why did administration spend two weeks delivering talking points to the entire nation declaring the attacks were the result of natural protest of the video?

    Senator Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee says it was the because James Clapper, Director if National Intelligence, handed out those talking points.

    If the President knew of intelligence reports to the contrary why didn’t he or Hillary say so?

    Wednesday, Feinstein said “I can tell you this, I think we do know what happened now. There’s no question but that it was a terrorist attack, there is no question but that the security was inadequate and I think that there is no question that we need to work on our intelligence.”

    If Obama knew that it was terrorism on the 12th then why were Carney, Rice, Clinton and the rest of the administration changing the narrative?

    If he didn't know on the 12th, he should say so. As always, it's the cover up that becomes the biggest problem.

  2. << it strikes me as unbelievably hypocritical for the Republicans in Congress, their party's presidential candidate, and their media allies to be trying to create a scandal out of the tragic murder of our ambassador in Benghazi. >>

    I agree with you.

    Lets hope answers continue to surface so that we can help to avoid future tragedies. Foreign service can be hazardous duty. I saw the movie Argo. Quite a reminder of the atmosphere in Iran in 1979 and 1980.