The State Department has now conceded that there was no movie protest at all. and that it was, in fact, one of the most sophisticated military attacks ever launched at a diplomatic facilityBoth these very obvious points were surely known to Washington by 6 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday September 12, by which time the surviving consulate staff had been evacuated to Tripoli. Yet Ambassador Rice, President Obama, et al., were still blaming the video days later. Obama and Secretary Clinton always refer to Ambassador Stevens as “Chris” — Chris this, Chris that — as if he were a treasured friend or intimate. Yet they and the sad hollow men around them dishonor their “friend” in death.Quite aside from the wrongness of lying, generally and specifically, in this case, and quite aside from the motivation to lie — I'm going to presume, without more, it was campaign politics — why did Obama think he could get away with this lie long enough, and why was he not daunted by the risk entailed in going on and on, doubling down on the lie, and even lying in a U.N. speech? How did he have the nerve to co-opt our U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, and subvert her credibility and honor? How did he get this millstone around the neck of Hillary Clinton, who has such a strong interest in her independent career and who knows a thing or two about the devastation of getting caught lying? (And this lie can't be waved away as as lie "about sex." It's a lie at the very heart of our trust in the President.)
Now, I have a few more questions, focusing on the choice to construct the lie out of that "Innocence of Muslims" video. Here's a montage of statements that were made about the video:
OBAMA: I don't care how offensive this video was, it was terribly offensive and we should shun it.Was this just the nearest lame excuse, like the dog ate my homework? The President must have known that the truth about the attack on the embassy would eventually emerge. He couldn't have assumed that those called to testify in congressional hearings would commit perjury. Even if everyone would be willing to commit perjury, how could they think they could credibly pull off lies about protests — vivid public events — that never took place? Maybe Obama's only concern was that the truth not emerge before the election, but given the risk that it would, why wasn't he afraid of how bizarre and outrageous the video story was?
HILLARY: This video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.
CARNEY: Let's be clear. These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region.
OBAMA: You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character, an extremely offensive video.
CARNEY: The unrest we've seen has been in reaction to a video.
OBAMA: A crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.
RICE: It was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response, a direct result of a heinous and offensive video.
OBAMA: I know there are some who ask, "Why don't we just ban such a video?" The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
The video story, moreover, put Obama in a position where he had to present caring for the feelings of violent foreigners as something that challenges our commitment to free speech, as if it were a difficult matter to brood over. He made it sound as though he would ban the video — or take the proposal to ban it seriously — if only the Constitution didn't stand in his way. Was he interested in making a show of respect for constitutional law? It didn't come off as too respectful, especially when they arrested the filmmaker (who was, conveniently, on parole and thus arrestable). This was the worst sort of scapegoating. Obama called this man — this erstwhile nonentity — "a shadowy character."
And this inane and unnecessary display of concern for the feelings of Muslims depended on thinking about Muslims as a bunch of idiots and criminals. It wasn't respectful at all to promote this caricature of Muslims as people who look at a stupid video and lose their minds, take to the streets, and work themselves up into a murderous rage. The video story could only work as a cover for the truth if it could be leveraged on an offensive stereotype of Muslims. It is the story about the response to the video — far more the video itself — that has "a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion"! Why didn't Obama care that he was insulting Muslims in this weird charade about caring for Muslims?
Why was any of this worth doing, even cynically? Even if you assume Obama put his own reelection first, how could he possibly have selected this lie and thought it was a good idea? Yes, the planned terrorist attack in Libya hurts the image he would like to have as the vanquisher of al Qaeda, but the truth about that has already come out, with 3 weeks left to go before the election. By handling the matter the way he did, we have — on top of the damage to the vanquisher of al Qaeda image — a glaring lie and plain evidence of extremely poor judgment.