The last Presidential debate showed that few disagree the single most serious threat to our national security today is the nuclear ambition of Iran. Should the leaders of that country obtain their goal, Israel is exposed to devastation and the Middle East would be reshaped into a region generally hostile to the West with Iran at the head. But potentially other countries, including our own, would be subject to jihadist nuclear rage. Unless upon obtaining their dream the Iranian leaders somehow become responsible citizens of the world community, Iran is widely believed to be ready to share its weaponized material with various jihadist groups. Lacking any credible delivery system it is not clear how such weapons could be used by these groups, but their possession of such destructive power without any of the normal restraints against its use and with an appetite for suicide martyrdom is an unacceptable circumstance for our country and the entire free world which we lead.
Enter the Green Revolution of 2009. Even the mullahs were worried about those historic demonstrations. This was not a small group of irritated students but a massive uprising of the young and educated. This was an historic opportunity for freedom in that most-oppressive of nations. The Iranian freedom fighters were our patriotic brothers and sisters because they sought the same thing our founding fathers did: freedom from abusive and tryannical rule. They raised their voices, risked their bodies, suffered and yet kept shouting out for freedom, freedom, freedom. That shout carried to our shores and should have been met with a robust masculine embrace and cry that we stand with you brothers and sisters. And that cry should have been backed by resources through covert supply lines, with the booming Voice of America, with calls for an emergency meeting in the United Nations. This was our chance to solve the problem of oppression and the looming problem of a nuclear, irresponsible Iran. And what happened? A silence that will echo for years. Silence from the man who was supposed to be the one. Silence and hesitation from the man who moved millions with all over the world with his powerful words and the wonder of his candidacy and success. And now we are faced with the nigh impossible task of persuading a country to quit that which it deems its right. Your silence Mr. Obama. What will it become?
Alternative Title: The Clash of the Hairdos
Now it appears that there may be competing October surprises. From the left, at 71 years, standing at 5 foot something, frosted hair, and trademark red couture, Gloria Allred. On the right, at 66 years, a towering 6′ 3″, faux comb-over and crisp business suit, Donald Trump. Speculation is rife as to what these may be.
The Examiner suggests that Ms. Allred is trying to get sealed court testimony unsealed and certain gag orders lifted, http://www.examiner.com/article/october-surprise-gloria-allred-s-after-romney-s-sealed-testimony-and-gag-order. These may or may not relate to a divorce proceeding the Governor testified in or something about abortion counseling. Who knows what The Donald has up his sleeve. Hot Air is skeptical it will be something quite as important as Mr. Trump claims, which is a prudent comment especially given the superlative hyperboles employed by the real estate magnate in the build-up. http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/23/whos-up-from-some-wednesday-october-surprises-from-trump-and-gloria-allred/. Maybe Mr. Trump has taken it upon himself to negate Allred’s surprise with his own? And so the two cancel out in a noise of competing soundbites, blog screed and Chris Matthew’s rants.
Does anyone really believe that the media missed something about the Governor? Does anyone really believe that there is another gotcha secret video that Team O hasn’t thrown up yet? We won’t ever obtain many Obama records that are sealed or confidential and potentially relevant to his character, but at this point those aren’t necessary anymore. We have his record and that is enough to judge his character. That and his conduct in the debates.
The only surprise about these surprises is that they won’t change the course of the election. They will be the proverbial flash in the pan. The electorate is ready and wearied of attacks and sick of media bias. Anything at this point will be perceived for exactly what it is. Given the precarious situation of the President’s campaign, look for the flash to be coming from the left and only appear larger because of the gigantic magnifying lens that the media will bring to it.
By the way, if you are interested in getting one of those hairhats for Halloween, here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Flair-Hair-Brown-Frosted-Visor/dp/B003KZDFYK.
Mr. Trump has released his surpise here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgOq9pBkY0I&feature=youtu.be&hd=1. This is actually a clever, let’s call it, marketing ploy. It is not anything new. Rather it is to put a spotlight on the continuing issue of the nontransparency of the most transparent President ever. Trump offers the President $5 million to be donated to the charity of Obama’s choice if the President releases all college and passport records. So no nothing new, but for those who might be on the fence with their vote this non-surprise will still be in play through October 31 which is when The Donald’s offer will expire.
Horses and Bayonets: The Belittlement of Barack Obama UPDATE: Hot Air/CBS Agree SECOND UPDATE: Bayonet Manufacturer Skewers Obama Comment
Chris Wallace had the most insightful comment of the night after the debates. To wit, he said that if he knew nothing about the debates or the candidates prior to watching last night’s debate on foreign policy, he would have assumed that the Governor was the incumbent president, with a cool knowledgeable manner, and the President was not, displaying an agressive and abrasive manner. What we witnessed last night was the self-belittlement of a man who could have been great but seemingly has been consumed by an animus against anyone who might try to unseat him. This led him to engage in the most unbecoming and childish insults a president has ever uttered:
[Gov. Romney] mentioned that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines.
Breitbart has an incredibly good factual takedown of this statement, noting that bayonets are standard issue to Marines and that Army infantry are being trained in the bayonet as an auxiliary melee weapon. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/10/22/During-Debate-Obama-Was-Wrong-on-Bayonets-Horses-Naval-Ships-and-Submarines. Here is a picture of an American and British military assault rifle avec bayonet:
These were used to great effect in the intense city fighting in Iraq. http://sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=391. UPDATE: Bayonet manufacturer, smartly named Bayonet, Inc., weighed in on the debate reinforcing the notion that this is a critical close quarter weapon: http://www.tmz.com/2012/10/23/barack-obama-bayonet-company-relevant-debate/.
Regarding horses, the definitive classic of the Taliban takedown in 2001 is titled Horse Soldiers. Our special ops forces rode horses into the battles that broke the women-hating bastards’ backs. Most importantly, Breitbart also notes that the Navy requested a ship force of 313 vessels at the beginning of the Obama presidency and links to the Navy’s Strategic Business Plan for 2009-2013. http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Media/Magazine_SBP.pdf (see page 3):
We are accountable to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to deliver, modernize and maintain a 313-ship Navy that meets the requirements of our national security plan. If we continue to operate with a “business asusual” approach, this goal will not be achieved; we must change.
Putting aside the inaccuracy of Obama’s statements, the most damaging aspect of this statement was the President’s obvious intent to ridicule his opponent. It had the opposite effect. Can you imagine as president making such a statement on such a stage before a national and international audience? It showed him to be a crass person, stooping to immature sniping to make points. It showed the President to be defensive to the extreme. Putting that together with his failure to endorse American worldwide naval power exposed him as not just a leader who shouts from behind or a leader who is constantly playing catchup (e.g., sanctions against Iran) but more importantly, a leader who does not want America to be the leader of the free world. That is not good for us. That is the most damaging aspect of his foreign policy. For America to maintain its top economic status (which is what the entire world cares about), it has to be in a position to trade throughout the world, and the better the trading partner, the better our trading will be. Only a supreme American naval power can assure that we have the markets for our goods around the free world.
Last debate: Draw.
This debate: Romney for vision and composure. Obama for childish antics. I bet the undecided voter will pick vision over antics.
Overall: Romney 2 and draw. Obama, draw. Romney wins the series. Hot Air agrees: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/23/romney-wins-the-debate-season-and-the-key-test-for-a-challenger/.
Hot Air agrees regarding the backfire of the Obama insult and discusses a supportive CBS focus group here: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/23/video-cbs-focus-group-in-ohio-picks-romney-the-winner/. Also see http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100186053/romney-won-the-presidential-debate-by-looking-presidential-obama-had-a-painful-case-of-bidens-smile/ (making the same point about the Navy insult).
One common characterization of politicians is that they are like snakes. They slither and weave their words carefully like the serpent of Eden. “He speaks with forked tongue” is an old American Indian critique of the occupying European. Having a forked tongue means that your speech is meant to be taken one way but your intentions are something dramatically different. The Indians knew this firsthand when they were promised one thing by the white man only to see it carried out in a way that shrunk their lands, the herds and their people.
Any fair assessment of the Benghazi timeline suggests an Administration speaking with several forked tongues. The latest from the White House is that Ambassador Rice, who emphasized the spontaneous, video-induced, nature of the attack, was merely following what intelligence was providing her at the time. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/us/benghazi-spontaneous/index.html. But the New York Times writes today that intelligence did not paint such a clear picture: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/us/politics/explanation-for-benghazi-attack-under-scrutiny.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. (Indeed, prior media reports suggest that the senior intelligence officials believed early on the attack was an organized terrorist attack with North Africa Al Qaeda links — http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/africa/libya-attack-jihadists/index.html; http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/africa/libya-consulate-attack-scene/index.html; http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/12/u-s-ambassador-to-libya-3-others-killed-in-rocket-attack-witness-says/; http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/27/intel-quickly-saw-signs-of-al-qaeda-links-in-consulate-attack). And clearly that picture is different from the one the President painted at the last debate in which he claimed he knew it was a terrorist attack and said so on September 12. Even if it is true that there were differing views within the intelligence community the only explanation for why the White House would send Amb. Rice to claim emphatically that is was due to the anti-Islam video (itself a real stretch given the timeline of release of that video and the series of violent episodes starting in February of 2012 and continuing through September involving the Benghazi consulate, the British Ambassador and the Red Cross) was to throw a white cover over the utter failure of Obama’s appeasement strategy in the Middle East. Of course, the problem of reduced security at Benghazi despite repeated requests is another story in this fatal debacle and itself seems traceable to the effort by the White House to paint a rosy picture of peace in Libya, for who would any longer need a substantial security force in a land of growing peace? Finally, Hot Air notes this intriguing report by CBS which raises the valid question why there was no military aid provided to the sieged defenders of the consulate. http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/22/cbs-news-why-didnt-we-send-the-military-to-rescue-benghazi-personnel/. Had the rapid response 16 man security team which was in place a month before September 11 attack remained, it would have been a much different result in Benghazi. In the aftermath, various officials have been “thrown under the bus” in the words of the media. From senior level State Department Officials, to intelligence officers to Mrs. Clinton herself. But no one has been fired and no one has resigned. The ones thrown under the bus were our own diplomats and the right to free speech for good measure.
It is near certain that the fatal Benghazi debacle will be raised tonight at the debate. It is near certain that the President will do everything he can to point the blame to some other source than his own failed foreign policy and other than his own deadly incompetent Administration. It is near certain that, like the snakes of the Pharoah attacked the snake of Aaron, he will attempt to attack Governor Romney for that man’s brave statement the night of September 11, 2012. And it is near certain that the Governor will swallow up those attacks like the staff of Aaron.
Should a sitting President really be on the other side of the desk from the likes of Jon Stewart? Stewart and his ilk are the modern day court jesters, and there is no small reduction to the dignity of the office of the President to actually be sitting down with such folks where they are the ones driving the conversation. Roasts are a completely different thing, but please, talking about serious policy matters with a comedian during his comic show?
The latest inanity is proof of that. President Obama is on the other side of the desk from Mr. Stewart. The topic of Benghazi comes up. Mr. Stewart had earlier lampooned the misdirection and mis-messaging of the Administration on this fatal debacle so perhaps the President felt he had to defend himself, and certainly he knows it was a friendly forum. Then the words “If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. We’re going to fix it.” come tumbling out. I agree with Hot Air that this looks like an attempt by the President to correspond to the language of Stewart who himself, somewhat indelicately, referred to the situation as not optimal, rather than a repeat along the lines of his blithe ”bumps in the road” comment about the same Benghazi tragedy. http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/18/obama-on-benghazi-if-four-americans-get-killed-it-is-not-optimal/. But for goodness sakes can’t you see the pain that’s going to come down now? “I guess 1 American would be more optimal eh Obama?” or “President Compares Death of Americans to Sub Optimal Performance of Economy.” or “How do the mothers of the dead Americans feel about their sons’ lives being weighed up like the unemployment rate?” (Seems one mother has already taken to voicing her anger and sadness over the comment: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220241/Barack-Obama-Benghazi-attack-Mother-diplomat-criticises-Presidents-optimal-comment.html.) Doesn’t someone see that these sorts of attempts at TV populism are more potentially more damaging than helpful?
Let’s return the Presidency to a dignified office where interactions on serious policy matters are through frequent press conferences (how long has it been now since Obama has had one?), major addresses, serious interviews, and not in fora where, depending upon who is in the Office, the officeholder is routinely savaged under the guise of Big Comedy.
Oh yes, the President actually showed up for this debate. His on and off again performance is reminiscent of his approach to his own job. Between over a hundred rounds of golf, watching Homeland on Saturdays while pretending to work, nonstop fundraisers, getting his make-up on so he can deliver his eye candy kneeslappers on The View, look serious on Letterman, and rap on that former SNL guy’s late night show, who would have time to be anything more than be a part-time POTUS? No wonder FLOTUS flouted debate rules when her husband came through with an apparently zealous performance, she likes her man when he is actually manning up.
But the President’s high points of indignation which may have scored him well in the debate come at a price. He sternly and with darkened brow scolded anyone who would accuse him of playing politics with Benghazi. The next debate will play that act out to an embarrassing end. Here are the logical choices for the President when pressed next week by the Governor on the fatal debacle. On the topic of explanation of the nature of the attack: (1) Declare that on September 12 he knew it was a terrorist attack and that UN Ambassador Rice was without authority to say what she did. (2) Declare that he did not know with any certainty about the attack and that Ambassador Rice was simply following what intelligence was reporting. (3) Assert that he personally felt it was a terror attack, did not attribute any technical meaning to that phrase and still does not believe it was an organized terrorist attack. (4) Say he made a mistake in trying to portray the killings as the result of a mob uprising based on a video trailer that came out in early July on youtube. None of these are good options and of course Obama will change the topic at some point during his long-winded explanation to say that Romney should not have scolded him on September 11. (If you are one of those Ohio students noted by Hot Air here, http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/18/video-hey-lets-ask-young-obama-supporters-what-they-think-about-benghazi/, then you can forget reading the rest of this post.)
(4) is the one he should do, but this president seems to lack the courage. Moreover, (4) would even more significantly damage his presidency because such an admission would highlight the fact that he would rather try to detract from the failure of his Mid-East policies than disclose the truth, even to the extent where he and senior Administration officials, such as the Secretary of State, were subordinating our right to free speech to irrational PC sensibilities.
(1) is difficult because then he looks like he was keeping information from the public when he repeatedly said the situation was not clear in various venues and it looks like his own officials are just doing whatever the hell they feel like doing by saying it was about the video or it was an organized terrorist act. But this is not a real possibility because clearly he could have instructed his subordinates to correct the record.
(2) is inconsistent with his indignation of Tuesday night when he affirmed that he did call it a terrorist act and is contrary to reports that our intelligence knew it was a terrorist attack the day after. http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/27/intel-quickly-saw-signs-of-al-qaeda-links-in-consulate-attack/. Moreover, no one in the State Department (including CIA) was affirming that a mob formed outside the consulate prior to the attack.
(3) is practically unavailable now given all the evidence that has come out and moreover smacks of opportunism now that the real story is out. (I guess when you walk down the road of sanctioning leaks to boost your profile, you open up the possibility that you create a leaking culture in the community and the result: you get leaked on.) I suppose he could admit to it being a terrorist attack, but then he has to admit to failure in stopping Al Qaeda. (I don’t see that the President has ever formally announced the act as due to organized terrorists.)
Another way is suggested based on Ladka’s conversation with the President after the Hofstra debate.
that he wanted to be deliberate, that he did not want to make a mistake based on misinformation. He wanted accurate and true information because any action he took in any part of the world, including the Middle East, would have dire consequences. http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/2012/10/18/what-president-obama-secretly-told-town-hall-participant-about-libya-attack-after-debate#ixzz29gSjQpAe
This is another squirrely attempt to avoid the fact that his own Administration affirmatively fingered the youtube video. American Crossroads does a very good job of putting together the problem for the President here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znVqyfxfbRQ.
I guess we cannot discount an option (5) — deus ex machina, i.e., the moderator declares the topic out of bounds and saves the President a la Candy Crowley style. (See Charles Krauthammer’s take on this here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-great-gaffe/2012/10/18/38ce0d18-1954-11e2-bd10-5ff056538b7c_story.html.)
As this post is getting too long, I will not go into detail on the next point, but it is a separate one: Why did our Ambassador lack appropriate security and why were requests denied to enhance security? We are beyond the silly lefty meme that Congress cut funding — State Department officials said they had enough funds, and indeed security in other areas has now been enhanced. There is no real good answer here for the President, but he should be forced to give an answer in the debate, and if declines “please proceed Governor” — Rommey can say exactly what he wants with a viewership of over 60 million Americans, no media spin, no filter, and this is what he should say: “The President has failed in many respects economically. Now it has come to light that his Administration has failed in foreign policy and in basic security for our diplomats abroad. This has more than just financial consequences. It brings life and death consequences. As President, I will not underestimate our foes. I will protect all Americans around the globe. And I sure as hell won’t fly off to a campaign fundraiser should I ever hear of tragic news of the murder of Americans.”
Dear Mr. Ladka, Did the President Answer Your Question? UPDATE Hot Air and WaPo Discuss Ladka’s Answer
Commentary afterwards suggested that your question was moot because the hearings on Capitol Hill had State Department officials claim that the requests were denied by them because they were not justified. Clearly your question was designed to have the President in his capacity as Chief Executive give his answer. To our ears, he did not. He did not once mention the exchange between the officials in Libya and in Washington regarding enhanced security. Are we to believe that, with the President’s claim that he was the night of the attack on the phone with all relevant officials and that he has personally directed that these same officials find out what happened, he still does not know about the rejected requests for enhanced security just prior to the attack? I did not see your question as a gotcha attempt. I saw it as stemming from a group of citizens very concerned about the death of their fellow citizens when by all counts it could have been avoided had the Administration acted wisely. I see it as a question motivated by a desire to know exactly why the security measures were not taken and to know it from the man who is the final word on executive action in this country. The President missed an opportunity to tell you, to tell us, the citizens, about the decisions that led up to this tragedy. In our view he would have come across as a human and a leader had he told us all the answer to your question.
Thank you for your question.
UPDATE: Hot Air discusses The Washington Post’s interview with Ladka here: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/10/17/libya-questioner-at-debate-obama-didnt-really-answer-what-i-asked-him/ The short story is that Ladka did not think that the President had answered his question, however, after the debate the President spoke with Ladka privately and tried to do three things (1) persuade Ladka that when he said “acts of terror” the next day in the Rosed Garden he meant to include Benghazi (whatever that means), (2) persuade him that the Benghazi bungled messaging was really because they were trying to match real time intelligence (doesn’t seem true based on reports that intel knew early on it was an organized attack) and (3) that he could not reveal the names of the State Department officials who were involved in the Benghazi security request debacle (Ladka didn’t need names specifically, but general titles would have sufficed I am sure). In any event, Ladka did say he appreciated the President’s private answer a lot more than the public one. Why do we have a president that can’t shoot straight in public?