Last night’s presidential debate on foreign policy surprisingly shed little light on the 9-11-12 massacre of four brave Americans in Benghazi, Libya. I was saddened it was brushed aside.
It won’t be in the coming months.
Mitt Romney got the first question on the subject and chose not to press the president. It was an understandable strategy for the evening, but left many questions unanswered. President Obama was probably relieved to not have to explain to millions of people why his Administration blamed a YouTube video for the massacre.
Of course, the great tragedy of Benghazi is the loss of life of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Ex-Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and ten year foreign service specialist Sean Smith. There is nothing more sacred than human beings made in the image of God. We lament their tragic murders and long for answers for their families.
But there is a second tragedy of Benghazi that may give us an important glimpse into the heart and mind of President Barack Obama.
Something else died on 9-11-12.
That something is vital for both politicians and nations. Actually, it’s absolutely essential for every human relationship that we share.
Because of what happened at Benghazi and how the White House portrayed it, the important character quality of trust is now an issue between President Obama and the nation. Is he telling us the truth? If not, why not? And if he is lying in this area, then in what other areas is he hiding the truth?
You can’t follow leaders you don’t trust.
Richard Nixon is Exhibit A.
Of course, we would not be in this situation if the Administration had been clear and straight in the beginning. They should have come out within 24 hours and explained to the American people that a barbarous act of terrorism killed our ambassador and those trying to defend him. They should have stated the basic facts and then said there would be a full investigation–and an appropriate response to this act of aggression.
But they weren’t candid about the situation. For some reason known only to themselves, they chose to spin a tale that amounts to a cover-up.
Cover-ups are bad. They often blow up in your face. We learned that in kindergarten:
“H-O-N-E-S-T-Y…no matter what the consequences be, is the very best P-O-L-I-C-Y.”
How do we know that the Administration is covering up something regarding the Benghazi massacre? Here is the timeline that lays out the facts in the case:
September 11: U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya is attacked, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans are killed.
September 12: Secretary Clinton and President Obama issue statements condemning the attacks and both point to an anti-Islamic YouTube video that they say provoked spontaneous rioting. The president mentions acts of terror in his Rose Garden address, but only in a general context–not applied to specifically to Benghazi.
September 12: U.S. intelligence agencies have enough evidence to conclude a terrorist attack was involved (now confirmed by numerous sources).
September 13: Press Secretary Jay Carney condemns the video and violence at a news conference.
September 14: Carney denies Administration had “actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”
September 14: The bodies of slain Americans return to Andrews Air Force Base. President Obama again blames the YouTube video.
September 16: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appears on Sunday talk shows and says the attacks were provoked by the video, exclusively.
September 16: Libyan President Mohamed Magarief contradicts Ambassador Rice saying, “no doubt that this [attack] was preplanned, predetermined.”
September 17: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refuses to call attacks an act of terror.
September 19: CNN reports having found Ambassador Stevens’s diary, which indicates concern about security threats in Benghazi.
September 19: Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen tells Congress the attack in Libya was “terrorism.”
September 20: Carney tries to back up Olsen, says it was “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” (It was not self-evident during the previous nine days.)
September 20: Obama refuses to call the attack terrorism, citing insufficient information.
September 21: Secretary of State Clinton, at meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister, says, “What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” (Change of word, no explanation.)
September 25: On ABC’s “The View,” Obama says, “we don’t have all of the information yet so we are still gathering.”
September 25: To the U.N. assembly, Obama blames “A crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.”
September 26: Libya’s Magarief contradicts the president on the “Today” show saying, “It was a preplanned act of terrorism directed against American citizens.”
September 26: Published reports show U.S. Intel agencies and the Obama Administration knew within 24 hours that al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist were involved. Magarief was right.
September 27: “Innocence of Muslims” filmmaker Mark Basseley Youseff (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) is arrested and denied bail on the charges of “probation violation.” (Smokescreen?)
September 28: Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr., issues a statement backing the Obama Administration’s changing story about the Libyan attack. Says facts are evolving.
October 23: E-mails that reveal that the White House knew in real time that the massacre was terrorism, the name of the organization responsible (Ansar al-Sharia), and for seven hours did nothing to try and help the embattled Americans.
I understand Mitt Romney’s reticence about the Benghazi incident last night. Governor Romney had personally decided (according to his aides) to not be combative with the president but to act presidential, show command of the big picture and familiarity with facts regarding foreign policy, and not be drawn into a tit-for-tat with the president.
The president, on the other hand, was combative from the beginning, condescending at times with Mr. Romney, and tried to stare him down with a stern look while the governor was speaking.
Last night I believe we saw a glimpse of the true selves of the two men who are vying for the top office in the land. On the one hand, what the American people have seen over the three debates, and confirmed by a lifetime, is that Mitt Romney is a very genteel human being who is polite, well-mannered, sincere, and possesses great integrity.
He comes across as a gentleman.
On the other hand, Barack Obama can be very charming in his public persona (he has a flash smile and hip “cool” to his personality), but as we saw last night, he is very narcissistic (did you notice the references to “I” “Me” and “My” which you never hear from Romney?), can be arrogant and condescending to others, and also looks very “cold” when looking at those he despises.
He comes across as a controller.
The biggest impression for me of the president last night was the smug, calculating stare–which had appeared at times in the second debate. There is a belligerence or mean streak in the president that you just don’t see in his challenger.
I bet many women picked up on that last night. Women have better instincts for these things and arrogance and combativeness turns them off. Not so much with the male species which sometimes like a good fight.
The Bible says “the lamp of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22). What this means, among other things, is that oftentimes you get a glimpse of a person’s soul by the look in their eyes. Think of Adolph Hitler or other evil people into whose picture or face you have gazed.
Of course, human beings are pretty adept at covering things up–but not always. What’s in your heart comes out. What’s lodged in your inner being is often displayed through the countenance.
That’s why I was fascinated with what I saw last night. Even when Barack Obama was attacking Mitt Romney, Gov. Romney’s gaze was respectful and non-aggressive. On the other hand, Barack Obama’s stare was smug, stern, piercing, even controlling in some ways. He wanted to “dominate” in his heart and that motive was clearly displayed on his face.
Now back to Benghazi. It is very clear from the timeline above and the evidence that we’ve seen in the past six weeks that the Obama Administration did not tell us the truth about the disaster. In real time, without question, the White House, the State Department, and the intelligence community all knew that a sophisticated terrorist assault had killed four Americans. But then someone decided they needed to lie about it. They chose to blame it on a YouTube video.
- Because they were embarrassed by the security breach?
- Because the attack didn’t fit the narrative of their success in killing Bin Laden and Al Qaeda being on the run?
- Because a terrorist attack this close to the election could harm the president’s chances?
We don’t know the answer to that question. But someone in the White House does–and that certainly includes President Obama.
To be fair, all leaders on the level of the American presidency, spin events and statistics to prop up their image and accomplishments. Some even send “plumbers” to steal important documents. Truth be told, we all stretch the truth from time to time.
But most American presidents don’t get caught in a lie and cover-up (as Clinton and Nixon did). They can’t take the risk because the effectiveness of their leadership is based on trust. Destroy trust and the leader must go.
That’s Benghazi’s second tragedy. Four Americans are dead–and one American president is “dying.”
Not by loss of blood, but by loss of respect.
Maybe it shows in his eyes.