Only three weeks ago, American voters solidly backhanded the Republican Party. It's already clear that the Republicans aren't chastened by President Obama's 51% to 47% reelection victory, or the Democratic Party gains in the House and Senate. For the Democrats, it's good news if the GOP can find no reason to correct what isn't working for it, and it's bad news, too.
Being wrong about everything is the only thing that Republicans are getting right. As a minor example, take the words that fell out of Senator Lindsey Graham’s mouth today.
Here’s what I can tell you: The American people got bad information on 16th September. They got bad information from President Obama days after. And the question is should they have been giving the information at all? If you can do nothing but give bad information, isn’t it better to give no information at all. So my belief is not only is the information bad – and I’m more convinced than ever that it was bad – it was unjustified to give the scenario as presented by Ambassador Rice and President Obama three weeks before an election.Sheesh Graham! Can’t you get anything right? Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance on the Sunday morning talk shows last September 16th was seven weeks before the election, not three weeks. You criticized the accuracy of what she said and you can't even get your own story straight. Why did you change the length of time between her interviews and the election from seven weeks to three weeks, anyway? What was your agenda?
This is what happens when you decide to parse the words of your political opponents. Someone may decide to return the favor. What did Ambassador Rice say, anyway, that would make anyone imagine the Obama administration handled the Benghazi incident incorrectly?
Outrage junkies in the Republican party may be too high on the Spinghazi nontroversy to see that they’ve headed down a blind alley. They’ve been wrong before and they’ll be wrong again.
Out of Ambassador Rice's appearances on September 16, I chose the transcript from "Face the Nation" because Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf and Graham’s partner in outrage, Sen. John McCain, also appeared on the show that day. The transcript is below.
In considering what Ambassador Rice said and what she should have said, what she knew and what she should have known, the Benghazi attack could be compared to an attack on the US Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan on March 2, 2006. After that attack which killed David Foy, a member of the US diplomatic corps, it took almost a year for an investigation to determine that Al Qaeda was involved. The Karachi consulate had been attacked in 2002, 2003 and 2004, too, but there was no outrage about the lack of security or precautionary measures there in 2006 when Foy was killed.
Here's an excerpt from the New York Times:
KARACHI, Pakistan, Feb. 22 — The suicide bombing that killed an American diplomat here last March, just before a visit by President Bush, was organized by a small cell of Pakistani militants and masterminded by an operative of Al Qaeda based in the Pakistan’s tribal areas, Pakistan says. The charge is being made by Pakistani officials as they present evidence — the result of months of investigations by the police, assisted by F.B.I. investigators — at the trial of two men accused in the plot.
Before Bob Schieffer interviewed Ambassador Rice, he spoke briefly with Libya's President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf. The noteworthy comment from Magariaf was:
The way these perpetrators acted and moved, I think we-- and they're choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, I think we have no-- this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, determined-- predetermined.Immediately after Schieffer finished with Magariaf, he spoke with Ambassador Rice.
(I selected the phrases from the interview that are highlighted with bold font.)
BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Susan Rice, our U.N. Ambassador. Madam Ambassador, he says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
SUSAN RICE: Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the President [Magariaf], there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and they are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
SUSAN RICE: We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?
SUSAN RICE: Well, we'll have to find out that out. I mean I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine.
BOB SCHIEFFER: There seems to be demonstrations in more than twenty cities as far as we know yesterday. Is there any sense that this is leveling off?
SUSAN RICE: Well, on Friday, of course, I think that's what you're referring to there were a number of places around the world in which there were protests, many of them peaceful, some of them turned violent. And our emphasis has been, and the President has been very, very clear about this, priority number one is protection of American personnel and facilities. And we have been working now very constructively with host governments around the world to provide the kind of protection we need and to condemn the violence. What happens going forward I think it would be unwise for any of us to predict with certainty. Clearly the last couple of days have seen a reduction in protests and a reduction in violence. I don't want to predict what the next days will yield.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The Romney campaign continues to criticize the administration. Paul Ryan was on the campaign trail yesterday saying that the Obama administration has diminished America's presence overseas and our image, a direct quote, "If we project weakness, they come. If we are strong, our adversaries will not test us and our allies will respond to us. " What's your response to that?
SUSAN RICE: It's two-fold. First of all, Bob, I think the American people expect in times of challenge overseas for our leaders to be unified and to come together and to be steadfast and steady and calm and responsible and that’s certainly what President Obama has been. With respect to what I think is a very empty and baseless charge of weakness, let's be plain. I think American people know the record very well. President Obama said when he was running for President that he would refocus our efforts and attentions on al Qaeda. We've decimated al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is gone. He also said we would end the war in Iraq responsibly. We've done that. He has protected civilians in Libya, and Qaddafi is gone.
I serve up at the United Nations and I see every day the difference in how countries around the world view the United States. They view us as a partner. They view us as somebody they want to work with. They view President Obama as somebody they trust. Our standing in the world is much stronger so this charge of weakness is really quite baseless.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think Mitt Romney spoke inappropriately when he criticized and issued a statement so early in this turmoil?
SUSAN RICE: Bob, I think you know, in my role, I'm not going to jump into politics and make those judgments. That's for the American people to decide.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Madam Ambassador, thank you for being with us.
SUSAN RICE: Thank you very much.