Thursday, May 2, 2013
Benghazi Will Haunt Obama's Legacy
Every American President, while he is a candidate or soon after his first election, makes pretty much the same statement : "Judge me by my record." The record usually consists of an economy growing at 3-5% per year, unemployment at 4.5-6%, and a budget slightly in the red. US troops may be deployed in key world regions but combat zones don't exist, and domestic terrorism is unheard of. Then, there was 9/11 followed 6 years later by the worst global financial and fiscal crises since 1929. Suddenly, President George Bush was being judged on his record in keeping America safe from domestic terrorist threats and on his success in bringing to justice the 9/11 perpetrators. His budget deficits rose but it didn't become an issue until late on his second term when the fiscal bailout of banks used an unfunded $800 billion. What angered the world, and finally many Americans, was his invasion of Iraq as a response to 9/11. Bush left office in 2008 with a very badly damaged reputation. Enter Barack Obama. He ran on pledges to straighten out the financial and fiscal messes, reduce unemployment from its then current 7.7%, end the war in Iraq and repair America's world reputation. America has spun down into as much as 11% unemployment and its budget deficits are at unprecedented $1 trillion per year every year. He did end the Iraq war...only to fall into his own unwinnable war in Afghanistan. His favorability ratings hover around 47-50%, although given the mess the entire world's finances are in, we could perhaps forgive most of these results. But, vastly more important, President Obama has shown no ability to survive, let alone control, Washington and the US federal government. As a consequence, he has become a divisive figure, whose actions are often seen to be secretive, unconstitutional or efforts to make America into something Americans do not want to be. He has, because he cannot control the congressional agenda, relied on stonewalling, blamed the opposition Republican Party for his own failures, and used suspiciously deceptive tactics. Most of these tactics have sooner or later blown up in his face - but he continues to defend his actions as correct and preferred by the majority of Americans. One example that is far from over is the Benghazi diplomatic compound attack and assassination of US Ambassador Chris Stevens last September. The Obama administration has sent various senior officials to give various explanations of what happened and what President Obama did or did not know and do. While the Obama administration insists that there was not enough time to mount a rescue mission to save Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, a 40-man special-operations rapid-deployment force was only four to six hours away during the September 11 siege, according to an intelligence source who has talked to Fox News. The revelations come as Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte are again calling for a joint select committee to investigate handling of the Benghazi attack. They said the committee is needed in light of new revelations about Benghazi, including reports that some whistle-blowers are afraid to testify for fear of losing their Obama administration jobs if they give testimony that disagrees with the official Obama version. Representative Darrell Issa has complained that he has received no responses to four letters sent to the Obama administration calling for whistle-blowers' lawyers to get the security clearances needed to represent their clients. He also believes there are potential career repercussions for anyone who comes forward with information that might contradict the official account of events from the Obama administration. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the final determination of the value of the Obama presidency will occur well into the future. But his own actions are puttng the negative aspects of his leadership front and center. And while President Bush's reputation is now improving, it is likely that President Obama's reputation still has quite a way to fall.