Obama is getting killed on the Libya / Benghazi framing by the Republicans, and he needs to change that fast.
As proof I point to yesterday's PPP poll of Iowa and New Hampshire here: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/... which says: "Voters are closely divided between the two candidates on the issue of Libya, favoring Romney 47/46 in New Hampshire and 46/44 in Iowa."
LOSING THIS ISSUE IS A TOTAL FAILURE OF COMMUNICATION ON THE PART OF THE OBAMA TEAM. This really undercuts what SHOULD be an Obama strength. I also noticed that the one thing Obama did not refute in the second debate is when Romney went into his speech about how Obama's mid east policy is in ruins.
Right now Benghazi is framed as a terrorist attack which the Obama admin did not prevent, and wishes to deny because, supposedly, Obama's whole plan is to cozy up to terrorist Islam in Africa. However, if Obama were to frame the Libya issue as a very favorable comparison to Iraq or Afghanistan he ought to be about 30 points more favorable on the issue than the Republicans.
Read below for what I think ought to be Obama's talking points. I fear Obama is once again taking for granted that voters know the facts of Libya rather than just Republican talking points.
First let's closely look at the Libya situation which conservative David Frum calls "Obama's war".
America could have done nothing and seen Benghazi be the new Rwanda, or it could have sent in ground troops. You can find Republican support for both positions at the time. But essentially, Obama did a damn good job on this. The guy who voted against the Iraq war lived up to his promise and avoided another war for America - this alone justifies his election!! But what was done?
Libya wasn't much of a war for America. Here are the facts:
- Zero US troops on the ground (maybe some special forces)
- cost was about 1/1000th of the Iraq war or about 1/500th of the Afghan war, conservatively. (A couple of billion vs a couple of trillion)
- Zero US casualties of troops or airmen during the Libya operation
- Operation was over in a matter of weeks or months - Afghanistan is still ongoing.
On those above points alone Obama should be killing Romney on this issue!! It is crazy that he is not. This is a failure of messaging.
But lets go on to the conservative argument that things will be bad because Al Quaeda will have some sort of playground in Libya, and that this situation is terrible. Let's just indulge the argument by saying, so what if Al Quaeda did take over parts of Libya like it did in Afghanistan. And if this happened, it would be the worst case? Hardly! Because if that is the worst case, and the US has to send in ground troops to fight them - then aren't we just even with where we would have been if we had followed Republican advice at the time to send ground troops into Libya to begin with? So the worst case is we do what the Republicans wanted to do to begin with? Start another ground war/occupation?
Also - I think there is a point to be made that the US has some real friends in Libya/Benghazi. After the embassy attack there were pro US demonstrations where people held up signs saying things like ' We are sorry'. Quite a brave thing to in that part of the world. This did not happen in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Bottom line - in any case - the Republican argument is what MIGHT happen. Obama can make the case that what DID happen (deposed Quadaffi, Zero ground troops, Zero cost, Zero casualties, Operation is over) is a fantastic result. It's something Obama should pressing at every speech and at the foreign policy debate.
Let's just hope Obama doesn't get suckered into playing defense against Republican speculation and forcefully makes the case the Libya operation was one thousand times more successful than Iraq, in terms of cost and lives.