The Obama White House. . . could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.To Obama, the truth about Benghazi was unacceptable. Remember, before Obama received the gift of a collapsing economy in the 2008 election, he was the representative of the Democratic left who bested heavy favorite Hillary Clinton in the primaries with a 2002 video opposing the Iraq invasion, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator. Obama won the 2008 nomination by being more-“anti” than Hillary. The Democratic party's base hated Bush 43 for “stealing” the 2000 election, for--after the first 9.11--winning the 2004 election by wrapping himself in the national security flag, and for invading Iraq, Bush’s “Vietnam.”
In September 2008, John McCain, partly running on his national security bona fides and with the Iraq surge a recent success, had pulled even with Obama in the polls. The issue that had helped Obama in the liberal Democratic primary--national security--was a weakness in the general. Then came the financial crash.
By the day of the Benghazi 9/11 anniversary attack four years later, Obama had set aside the national security issue with a single act: assassinating Osama bin Laden. Just 5 days earlier, in his speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination, Obama had said, “A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead. (Cheers, applause.)”
How could Obama possibly accept the truth of Benghazi: that on the 11th anniversary of 9.11, al Qaeda was alive and destroying the Benghazi American Consulate--technically on U.S. soil--and killing our ambassador and three other American officials? So soon after Obama’s speech proclaiming al Qaeda “on the path to defeat”? Eight weeks before the election? How could that be acceptable?
Obama knew he needed a cover story, and he knew that his close allies in the media--fortunately fully committed to his re-election--would run with whatever cover story the White House provided. In the short run, it all worked out. Obama won re-election.
Now as with the Watergate cover-up in 1972, which also worked well enough in the short run to secure a president's (Nixon’s) re-election, it is beginning to come unraveled. Peggy Noonan again:
From the day of the attack until this week, the White House spin was too clever by half. In the weeks and months after the attack White House spokesmen said they were investigating the story, an internal review was under way. When the story blew open again, last week, they said it was too far in the past: “Benghazi happened a long time ago." Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, really said that.
Think of that. They can't give answers when the story's fresh because it just happened, they're looking into it. Eight months later they don't have anything to say because it all happened so long ago. Think of how low your opinion of the American people has to be to think you can get away. . . with that.