Rep. Paul Ryan is still complaining about CNN’s Candy Crowley’s 2012 debate moderation. Specifically, about the fact that she corrected Mitt Romney for saying President Obama took 14 days to call the 9/11 attack on the Benghazi compound “an act of terror,” when Obama said those words in the Rose Garden the very day after the killings of four Americans.The rules of the debate, of course, are that the debaters get to lie their asses off and no matter how brazen the lie gets—say, claiming the United States was founded by the robot servants of King Tut—the moderator is not allowed to correct them or point out that they are mistaken because an American presidential debate ought to be a fact-free zone. The Candy Crowley moment was so terribly offensive because Crowley refused to acknowledge the spin that Mitt Romney himself had invented the very same night as the attacks—that the president was "sympathizing" with the attackers, aka the suit-and-tie version of the repugnant secret Muslim or not a true American claims that his party had been stoking for years—and that the president was somehow "refusing" to acknowledge it as a terrorist act because of this secret plot to coddle the terrorists. When Crowley disassembled the talking point by stating the plain truth of the matter, that Obama had in fact referred to the act as terrorism during his very first speech on the subject, the gobsmacked look on Mitt Romney's face said it all. You don't correct a talking point. You don't call a prominent politician out on a baldfaced lie, you horrid excuse for a journalist you, you sit there politely and allow the lies to seep in. You know—journalism.
Talking to Hugh Hewitt Wednesday night, Ryan rehashed the Crowley moment, agreeing with Hewitt that it was “perhaps the most significant intervention by a member of the media in a presidential campaign ever.” While Ryan wouldn’t speculate about whether Crowley would do anything different if she knew what we know now (more on what we know now, later) he alleged that Crowley “violated the rules of the debate.”
(It should be noted here that the theory advanced by Romney supporters immediately after Crowley's faux pas was to assert that she too was a partisan seeking to bring Mitt Romney down due to her fervor for Barack Obama. This might come as a surprise to anyone who has watched Candy Crowley in any other context, but the lesson in each and every one of these affairs, from Benghazi to Crowley to secret Muslim to the Bundy family compound, is that everything is always a secret conspiracy, period, and if there is no evidence of that conspiracy it simply goes to show how very deep the conspiracy actually is. On the contrary, to me it rather looked like the Crowley interjection was a spontaneous reaction to hearing something she factually knew to not be true, which is a reaction many of us have often had while watching politicians on the teevee—Crowley simply forgot she was on the wrong end of the television camera. Mitt Romney was lucky, because a few thousand less professional Americans would have instinctively hurled their remotes at him.)
The very first day, Mitt Romney was too visibly giddy over the prospect of pinning a terrorist attack on supposed presidential weakness. He walked from the podium that first night with a morbid grin on his face; one would normally not grin after a terrorist incident, but Mitt Romney and his staff had an issue. And that was the night the Benghazi! obsession started, among Republicans, the only attack on an overseas diplomatic compound to have aroused their interest in the entire post-9/11 era, the only one many of them could even name.
Now we're having yet another committee tasked with investigating not how American deaths happened, or who did them, or how they could be prevented in the future, or whether funds for better security ought to be dug up by Congress—we know the answers to all those, by the way, and have for some time—but whether or not a White House denizen named Rice went on the Sunday Shows, the preferred debate format for all of Washington, politician and pundit and press alike, and said something during those first appearances that turned out not to be true. Because as Mitt Romney and the secret Muslim and the not a true American and the cattle futures and the Vince Foster camps all know, it is probably a conspiracy. That we have found no evidence of it even after all this time only proves how deep it goes.