Skip to main content

President Obama stands with Secretary of State Clinton during a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Sept. 14, marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed in Benghazi.
It was a major miscalculation. You could see from Mitt Romney's demeanor in the Tuesday night exchange over Libya that he saw himself catching President Obama in a "gotcha" moment. Instead he got got, producing one of the debate moments that has since gone viral to his campaign's detriment. Debates are all about moments. The details and nuance soon fade from public memory, but the impact of the moment lives on. It was a two-part moment on Libya. For President Obama it was a game, set, match moment on the issue.

Romney's claim that Obama had misled Americans about what happened in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi generated a bristling Obama response, a presidential response of righteous anger, an anger that everyone could identify with, not something that could be turned into the caricature of the "angry black man." Romney had no effective way of dealing with the anger in that response.

So he went after a detail in the president's comments. A detail his debate-preparation team members had no doubt well-coached him on. Unfortunately for the candidate, they had chosen to buy into a theme that has been making the rounds in right-wing circles on- and off-line for weeks. That theme being that the president didn't call the Benghazi attack an act of terror until weeks after it happened. The only problem was, as his remarks in the Rose Garden on Sept. 12 show, Obama did consider it an act of terror:

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. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
Most Americans watching the debate have no more than a barebones knowledge of what happened in the attack on the U.S. consulate. Fewer still are aware of the right-wing's efforts to spread what Romney tried to spread with disastrous results, including an instant fact-check that amounted to a body blow by moderator Candy Crowley.

Crowley, in fact, had already been directly involved in an encounter over what Obama had said the day after the attack. So she didn't have to dig deep to make her correction of Romney Tuesday night. On the Sept. 30 edition of CNN's State of the Union, which Crowley hosts, senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said:

“As you know, the president called it an act of terror the day after it happened. But when you’re the responsible party, when you’re the administration, then you have a responsibility to act on what you know and what the intelligence community believes. This was—this is being thoroughly investigated,” he said.

“As the director of national intelligence said on Friday, that was the original information that that was given to us. What we don’t need is a president or an administration that shoots first and asks questions later,” Axelrod continued. “And, you know, Governor Romney leaped out on this Libya issue on the first day, and was terribly mistaken about what he said.”

On the same day, over at the right-wing publication Commentary, Alana Goodman wrote under the headline: No, Obama Didn’t Call Benghazi “Act of Terror” in Speech: no point was it clear that he was using that term to describe the attack in Benghazi. He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. “Acts of terror” could have just as easily been a reference to that. Or maybe it wasn’t a direct reference to anything, just a generic, reassuring line he’d added into a speech which did take place, after all, the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
That was a ridiculous stretch, even for Commentary. But it and a misreading of an extensive Sept. 27 fact-checking of the Libya timeline at the Washington Post by Glenn Kessler apparently gave Romney's debate-prep team the idea that they could gain political advantage by challenging the president on this.

Instead, they got trounced. Not only did the latest Republican attempt to imply that a Democratic president is "weak on defense" get smacked down, but Romney wound up looking like a fool scolded by the teacher when Crowley interjected that the president had said what Romney claimed he had not. All the post-debate walk-back in the world won't change the impact of moment captured on video and beamed out to the tens of millions of Americans who saw the debate. There was a good reason Romney left the stage looking as if some part of his anatomy was caught in a vise.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Oct 17, 2012 at 09:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

kos, skybluewater, Pat K California, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, Mimikatz, Sylv, chuck utzman, jo fish, CJB, hester, murphy, mwm341, teacherken, abarefootboy, Pandora, PeterHug, greenbird, dengre, krwada, Minnesota Deb, LynChi, billlaurelMD, ChicDemago, CleverNickName, lysias, jdld, mslat27, eeff, Mnemosyne, rubyr, etatauri, willyr, SallyCat, shpilk, MarkInSanFran, VickiStein, madhaus, dpc, eyeswideopen, emmanuel, Marc in Oakland, susans, indybend, DickCheneyBeforeHeDicksYou, cskendrick, annrose, CoolOnion, highacidity, Pithy Cherub, mkfarkus, mrblifil, chimpy, Ignacio Magaloni, retLT, sngmama, itskevin, Bill Roberts, Terre, thea lake, splashy, navajo, CocoaLove, dksbook, Texknight, dejavu, hangingchad, TexDem, figbash, MKS, ranger995, Eyesbright, kj in missouri, wdrath, Steven Payne, betson08, The Zipper, samoashark, rlharry, kalmoth, LucyTooners, Diana in NoVa, JayBat, peterj911, zerelda, jj32, Sembtex, mungley, lonespark, KayCeSF, Vicky, tomjones, Wife of Bath, Sybil Liberty, bibble, sebastianguy99, weelzup, Skennet Boch, davidincleveland, Recovering Southern Baptist, bloomer 101, 3goldens, Tinfoil Hat, UFOH1, Unit Zero, democracy inaction, one of 8, basquebob, ChemBob, zamrzla, Brooke In Seattle, YucatanMan, Laurence Lewis, Beetwasher, Pam from Calif, The Grace Kelly, The Nazz, skyounkin, blue jersey mom, SBandini, Tunk, Rusty in PA, FindingMyVoice, sodalis, DaveVH, Alan Arizona, accio, martini, third Party please, elliott, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, BlueInARedState, HoundDog, Yellow Canary, seefleur, mrobinson, Shakludanto, zesty grapher, luckydog, blueoasis, global citizen, wild hair, Libby Shaw, armadillo, middleagedhousewife, bumbi, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Texdude50, blueoregon, nannyboz, shaharazade, sea note, OHdog, Tamar, One Pissed Off Liberal, Cronesense, Habitat Vic, peagreen, Loudoun County Dem, drmah, ninkasi23, moodyinsavannah, Debs2, Dartagnan, gloriana, EdSF, lr85211, edsbrooklyn, FishOutofWater, Mark E Andersen, la urracca, semioticjim, Matt Z, terabytes, bearian, newpioneer, HCKAD, jayden, jedennis, cyncynical, SeaTurtle, millwood, gchaucer2, Wreck Smurfy, Rumarhazzit, uciguy30, leonard145b, skod, billso, BasharH, TomP, Empower Ink, chicago minx, gizmo59, rmonroe, fb, jwinIL14, MKinTN, First Amendment, adrianrf, TruthFreedomKindness, BobBlueMass, JaxDem, HappyinNM, wayoutinthestix, Cordwainer, OleHippieChick, Sixty Something, Laughing Vergil, alasmoses, mikeconwell, pamelabrown, hwmnbn, carver, catly, envwq, Gemina13, glendaw271, petulans, phrogge prince, sagansong, CupofTea, dmhlt 66, lostboyjim, legendmn, prettygirlxoxoxo, Bule Betawi, multilee, artmartin, rubyclaire, J M F, litoralis, Discipline28, dharmasyd, CanyonWren, Mislead, WakeUpNeo, bamjack, Canadian Green Card Alien, shopkeeper, geebeebee, elziax, MKSinSA, jomi, johnosahon, Denise Oliver Velez, stevenwag, vadasz, reesespcs, mahakali overdrive, MizKit, astral66, citisven, collardgreens, Larsstephens, BlueOak, Railfan, Just Bob, bronxcharlie, smileycreek, Laurilei, Mokurai, estreya, gramofsam1, Tea and Strumpets, David Harris Gershon, klompendanser, Crabby Abbey, batchick, gulfgal98, ItsSimpleSimon, DiegoUK, rja, orlbucfan, ericlewis0, Otteray Scribe, Loose Fur, wwjjd, therehastobeaway, Berliner2, Actbriniel, Xtatic, Quantumlogic, theKgirls, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, Colorado is the Shiznit, kerflooey, Philly526, ozsea1, spooks51, Bob Duck, slowbutsure, jardin32, vahana, Mr MadAsHell, Olympia, OhioNatureMom, Arizona Mike, kevin k, lillyspad, FightingRegistrar, NormAl1792, CoExistNow, lupinella, princesspat, Ebby, molunkusmol, PorridgeGun, sethtriggs, Cinnamon Rollover, thomask, ShowMeMoBlue, RfrancisR, SueM1121, IB JOHN, peregrine kate, bluedust, Wood Dragon, Caddis Fly, bakeneko, teknohed, Book of Hearts, Catlady62, blackjackal, weinerschnauzer, thejoshuablog, Chitown Kev, Mentatmark, ParkRanger, I C Mainer, AnnetteK, Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom, hulibow, stormicats, KiB, OldDragon, cwsmoke, angry marmot, TheLizardKing, IndieGuy, Jakkalbessie, S F Hippie, winglion, a2nite, Deep Texan, rukidingme, Farkletoo, 2thanks, FloridaSNMOM, Olkate, wxorknot, redstella, tytalus, avsp, arizonablue, etherealfire, Glen The Plumber, dotdash2u, Marjmar, databob, Candide08, Shawn Russell, nomandates, Dallas L, ebailey, Eric Twocents, MsLiz, remembrance, tommyd357, mtnlvr1946, SheilaKinBrooklyn, entrelac, topazOR, howabout, Icicle68, Smoh, furrfu, GrannyRedBird, rigcath, marcr22, bontemps2012, ChristineM, listencloser, sparkysgal, oslyn7, WFBMM, KHKS, thatpj

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site