The Real Scandal

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MAY 27, 2013, VOL. 18, NO. 35 • BY WILLIAM KRISTOL

Everyone in Washington, except those in the crosshairs, likes a good scandal, and THE WEEKLY STANDARD is no exception. What’s more, in the case of the Obama administration, comeuppance is well deserved and overdue. So while it may be a dubious pleasure to enjoy watching the high brought low and the proud en route to their fall, we’re willing to indulge in it.

The Real Scandal


THE WEEKLY STANDARD also appreciates the comic and relishes the absurd. So we’re enjoying the excuses being offered for President Obama by his courtiers. Surveying the IRS’s abuses, David Axelrod has taken a break from years of justifying ever-bigger government to complain that “the government is so vast” that the president can’t be expected effectively to supervise it. White House aides plaintively explain (on background) that when the State Department and the CIA tangled bureaucratically over talking points about Benghazi, neither the White House—nor the president himself!—could do anything but stand helplessly by. The Justice Department subpoenaed vast swaths of phone records from the Associated Press, but it’s unreasonable to expect any explanation from the attorney general. He decided, you see, to recuse himself—but not in writing, no need to stand on formalities. And why not? He’s working for a president who seems to have informally recused himself from running the executive branch.

So THE WEEKLY STANDARD will do its part, with pleasure, to unravel the tangled web the Obama administration’s woven as they’ve practiced to deceive. But as we unravel, and as the administration does too, we should recall this: The true indictment of the Obama administration isn’t found in what they’re embarrassed about. It’s found in what they boast about.

The health care legislation of which President Obama is so proud is more dangerous to our freedoms than the (admittedly serious) abuses of the IRS about which President Obama professes to be apologetic. The defense cuts and the foreign policy doctrines—such as “leading from behind”—that President Obama embraces are more dangerous to our national security than the (certainly deplorable) cover-up over Benghazi. The views openly advocated by his Justice Department with respect to religious freedom, racial preferences, and constitutional interpretation are more dangerous to our constitutional system than the (undoubtedly shocking) management failures
at the department.

Obama’s scandals are damaging to the country. Congress should do its duty in getting to the bottom of them, and if the scandals weaken Obama’s ability to push through bad legislation, conservatives have no obligation to look that gift horse in the mouth. But Obama’s liberal policies are more dangerous than his managerial scandals.

That’s why making the substantive case against the Obama administration’s policies remains job one for an opposition that hopes to persuade the American people that it deserves to govern. So the key task is to demonstrate how Obama’s policies are failing, to explain why they’re destructive to the country, and to elucidate why conservative policies have worked in the past and how they can be updated to shape a better future.

This isn’t that hard. But it’s easy to be distracted by the scandal of the day. The real scandal, though, is the Obama administration, whose purposes and policies exemplify a liberalism that degrades popular self-government and embraces American decline.



Obama Aide: ‘Irrelevant Fact’ Where President Was During Benghazi Attacks

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9:48 AM, MAY 19, 2013 • BY DANIEL HALPER

Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer said it’s an “irrelevant fact” where the president physically was during
the Benghazi terror attack on September 11, 2012:

Host Chris Wallace reminds Pfeiffer that Obama didn’t really talk with Secretary Clinton,
Secretary Panetta, or Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that night.
“He was talking to his national security staff,” Pfeiffer insists.

Asked about whether the president entered the Situation Room, Pfeiffer says, “I don’t
remember what room the president was in on that night, and that’s a largely irrelevant fact.”

Pfeiffer then argues that Wallace’s questions about the president’s handling of the Benghazi
terror attack are “offensive.”

UPDATE: Here’s a full rush transcript of the exchange:

WALLACE: let’s turn to benghazi. he had a meeting with panetta in the afternoon, heard
about this on an unrelated subject, wanted them to deploy forces as soon as possible.
The next time he shows up, hillary clinton says she spoke to him at around 10:00 that night
after the attack at the consulate, not the annex, but the attack at the consulate had ended.
question, what did the president do the rest of that night to pursue benghazi?

PFEIFFER:  the president was kept up to do throughout the entire night, from the moment
it started till the end. this is a horrible tragedy, people that he sent abroad whose lives are
in risk, people who work for him. i recognize that there’s a series of conspiracy theories the
republicans are spinning about this since the night it happened, but there’s been an
independent review of this, congress has held hearings, we provided 250,000 pages
of — 250,000 pages of documents up there. there’s been 11 hearings, 20 staff briefings.
everyone has found the same thing. this is a tragedy. the question is not what happened
that night. the question is what are we going to do to move forward and ensure it doesn’t
happen again? congress should act on what the president called for earlier this week, to
pass legislation to actually allow us to implement the recommendations of the accountability
review board. when we send diplomats off into far-flung places, there’s inherent risk. we need
to mitigate that risk.

WALLACE: with all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. what did the president do
that night?

PFEIFFER:  kept up to date with the events as they were happening.

WALLACE: he didn’t talk to the secretary of state except for the one time when the first
attack was over. he didn’t talk to the secretary of defense, he didn’t talk to chiefs. the
chairman of the joint who was he talking to?

PFEIFFER:  his national security staff, his national security council.

WALLACE: was he in the situation room?

PFEIFFER:  he was kept up to date throughout the day.

WALLACE: do you know know whether he was in the situation room?

PFEIFFER:  i don’t know what room he was in that night. that’s a largely irrelevant fact.

WALLACE: well —

PFEIFFER:  the premise of your question, somehow there was something that could
have been done differently, okay, that would have changed the outcome here. the
accountability roof board has looked at this, people have looked at this. it’s a horrible
tragedy, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

WALLCE: here’s the point, though, the ambassador goes missing, the first ambassador
in more than 30 years is killed. four americans, including the ambassador, are killed.
dozens of americans are in jeopardy. the president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the
chairman of the joint chiefs to deploy forces. no forces are deployed. where is he while
all this is going on?

PFEIFFER:  this has been tested to by —

WALLACE: well, no. no one knows where he is, who was involved, the —

PFEIFFER:  the suggestion of your question that somehow the president —

WALLACE: i just want to know the answer.

PFEIFFER:  the assertions from republicans that the president didn’t take action
is offensive. there’s no evidence to support it.

WALLACE: i’m simply asking a question. where was he? what did he do? how did
he respond in who told him you can’t deploy forces and what was his president?

PFEIFFER:  the president was in the white house that day, kept up to date by his
national security team, spoke to the joint chiefs of staff earlier, secretary of state,
and as events unfolded he was kept up to date.

Is This The Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?

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By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown January 11, 2013 6:53 am

floydmarybethbrown 300x180 Brown: Is This The Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?

It’s even worse than we previously thought. A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America’s enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could “negotiate” the release of a “hostage” and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election?

The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: “the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi… was the result of a bungled abduction attempt…. the first stage of an international prisoner exchange… that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheik’…”

But something went horribly wrong with Obama’s “October Surprise.” Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers…and the attackers, believing that the Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.

Some will say that Admiral Lyons’ accusation is not a smoking gun. We agree, that’s exactly why Congress must investigate Benghazi-gate.

Moreover, we firmly believe the problem with Admiral Lyons’ assertion is that he is only scratching the surface the full and complete truth may be much, much worse.

Benghazi-gate is not about a bogus YouTube video series of lies. It’s not about the Obama Administration’s foreign policy ineptitude. We are dealing with something much more sinister… something potentially treasonous… and the following questions, posed in an article in The New American, go to the heart of the matter:

1. “What was the Obama administration’s full role in helping violent Jihadists, self-styled al Qaeda terrorists, and Western-backed “revolutionaries” take over Libya in the first place?

2. Did that half-baked scheme to arm Jihadist leaders, who… had previously fought U.S. troops in Iraq, contribute to the attack, as countless experts and officials have suggested?

3. What was actually going on at the compound in Benghazi, which as the report states, was never a “consulate” despite establishment media claims?

4. Was Ambassador Stevens recruiting and arming Jihadists and terrorists to wage war on the Syrian regime after what Obama called the “success” in Libya, as a growing body of credible evidence suggests?

5. Why did the administration claim for so long that the attack was just a “protest” over a YouTube video gone awry, even when it knew definitively that was not the case?

6. Was the lack of security at the compound a political ploy to conceal the extent of the lawlessness and utter chaos left in the wake of Obama’s unconstitutional “regime change” war on Libya, as even members of Congress have alleged?”

It’s clear. Benghazi-Gate is only a small piece of a much larger operation, an attempt to conceal what The New American calls; “the Obama administration’s full role in helping violent Jihadists and self-styled al Qaeda terrorists.”

Prior to the election Barack Obama continually told us that “Osama bin-Laden is dead and GM is alive,” but the sad truth is that Osama bin-Laden’s organization is alive and well and the Obama Regime may be giving aid and comfort to this terrorist network.

And prior to the election, Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera pontificated that Republicans shouldn’t “politicize” Benghazi-gate. Swaggering onto the set of Fox and Friends Rivera bloviated: “I think we have to stop this politicizing” and Rivera issued the following veiled warning to Republicans: “Do we want to try and influence the election with a tragedy that happened in North Africa?”

Ironic, isn’t it? Barack Obama played politics with the lives of Americans, like Rivera, the media covered Obama’s rear and threatened to accuse anyone and everyone who mentioned it of “playing politics.”

Weak-willed Republicans apparently took Rivera’s threat to heart as Rivera also said that Republican Senators John Barrasso, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, who all sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee “all agree that the supercharged atmosphere around the story — prudence dictates that these hearings be postponed until” after the election.

Well, the election has come and gone. Congress now has no excuse. The American people needed the truth before the election, but now that Obama is back in the White House real conservatives must demand answers.

The American people deserve to have those questions answered and moreover the American people deserve justice.

Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer

Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)