Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Candy Saves Barry From Toughest Debate Question

The scene during last night's debate was almost surreal. A question from an an audience member during last night's town hall style debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, set up Romney for an opportunity to really pounce on the security failures that made the attack such an easy feat to accomplish. Shockingly, President Obama claimed that he had attributed the act to terrorism during his first comments the morning after the deadly attack despite the administration's public insistence for two weeks that the September 11 attack occurred as a result of a spontaneous demonstration outside the consulate gone awry in response to a YouTube video mocking Islam. When Gov. Romney challenged Obama's claim, he stood by it and, on cue, Candy Crowley, the debate's moderator, chimed in with an instant fact-check saying the President was correct, citing the transcript of his comments that day. Although she added that the administration had it wrong on the cause of the attack, her overt siding with Obama during the debate was tantamount to a referee during a game throwing a flag against a player for a penalty. It had all the appearances of a coordinated effort by the Obama campaign with the moderator to minimize the fallout of the only foreign policy question of the night and the one that posed the most risk for damage to Obama.

As they say, context matters. The President's comments the morning after the terrorist attack was a general statement that did not specifically characterize the cause of the preceding night's deadly attack. "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," Obama said. The President himself in the days to come repeatedly refused to attribute the attack to an orchestrated terrorist attack. It was only after nearly two weeks of denials in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that the administration finally conceded it was a terrorist attack and not the supposedly offensive YouTube video. President Obama's response dodged the thrust of the question, which is why the administration had denied Stevens' request for additional security prior to the September 11 attack. He also doubled down on his accusation that Romney was seeking to politicize the deadly attack after Romney criticized the President for hopping aboard Air Force One to attend a Las Vegas fundraiser and a Colorado rally right after making his vague and general comments the morning following the attack.

What played out following the debate in the talking head community was a replay of what occurred the day of the deadly attack when Gov. Romney was roundly criticized by the media for condemning the Obama administration for suggesting the outrage in the Muslim community over the YouTube video justified the coordinated protests throughout the Middle East against the U.S., even though the State Department distanced itself from a public statement issued by the U.S. Egyptian embassy after it came under attack by unruly protesters the same day. For several days, the media focused on the so-called gaffe by Romney instead of the abysmal failure of the Obama administration to provide adequate security for Ambassador Stevens and his staff. Similarly, the media instantly tried to portray Romney's insistence that the Obama administration had steadfastly denied the Benghazi incident was a planned terrorist attack as a blunder in order to redirect attention from an obvious Obama weak spot.

Overall, I thought both candidates acquitted themselves well during last night's debate. They both obviously brought their A game. I was disappointed at some of the questions, which I felt reflected a left-leaning agenda on the part of the biased moderator. For the life of me, I don't understand why Republican presidential candidates election after election agree to debate moderator choices who are so clearly in the Democratic candidate's camp. I thought Crowley repeatedly cut off Romney from responding to several debatable assertions Obama effectively made against Romney's record and positions in an effort to prevent further scrutiny by Romney. For those keeping time, Obama had about three more minutes of talking time than Romney to speak. A CNN instant poll taken immediately after the debate gave the advantage to Obama by a 46-39% margin; however, on important economic questions asked of the poll respondents, Romney appeared to have the advantage.

Here's the video of the exchange that has Romney supporters hopping mad:

1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

Candy Crowley has to know the context of that comment. It was a general comment about terrorism made during the Benghazi press conference, not a claim that what happened was terrorism. She deliberately misled people regarding what the President actually said and meant.