Tonawanda News

Columns

May 22, 2013

DUVALL: Obama lurching between lame crises

Tonawanda News — If this column comes off as particularly cranky, blame the temperature in our newsroom — hovering around 80 degrees all day because the air conditioner is broken — but I really am annoyed with the gnat-like attention span that passes for national news lately.

President Obama has had, by all accounts, a pretty rough couple of weeks. First it was renewed interest by House Republicans in the handling of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans including the Libyan ambassador. 

It remains difficult for me to find fault in the upper echelon of the Obama administration. There were bureaucratic misgivings and the typical behind-the-scenes turf wars over who should accept blame. Lots of Republicans — the list rather humorously includes Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney — are saying the administration misled the public about the origins of a terrorist attack.

I suppose if there were two experts on the topic it would be Rummy and Darth Vader — and yet I remain unconvinced.

The narrative holds the president, in an election year, preferred to keep his tidy narrative that al Qaida was decimated and in keeping with the campaign theme, they blames it on a spur-of-the-moment protest that turned violent. 

That political motive doesn’t pass the sniff test. It’s been proven time and again that attacks on Americans have the temporary political effect of helping an incumbent who’s seen as more capable of handling such matters. Supposing Obama came out an hour after it happened, called it a terrorist attack and made some decisive-looking, commander-in-chiefy declarations it would probably have served as a boon to his campaign not a detriment. 

That does not, of course, mean it was handled properly and there are legitimate questions over whether we should have been more prepared for such an attack — we should have been because the warning signs were everywhere — and how we responded once it happened. 

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