With President Obama's foreign policy street cred taking a nosedive since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the Obama administration is working feverishly to stop the bleeding and the Obama reelection campaign has been working overtime to protect the president's public image. Many of these developments, coincidentally, happen to coincide with this week's presidential debate.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that she was responsible for diplomatic security, shielding the White House from blame for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. "I take responsibility," Clinton said during a visit to Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."
In an interview with Fox News (!), Clinton attributed the administration's shifting stories to "the confusion you get in any type of combat situation."
Clinton went on to specifically mention this year's presidential election and how important it is for Americans (read: Democrats) to remain united. "I know that we're very close to an election," Clinton said. "I want to just take a step back here and say from my own experience, we are at our best as Americans when we pull together. I've done that with Democratic presidents and Republican presidents."
Republicans on Capitol Hill were quick to respond to Clinton's statements. A joint statement from Republicans on the Senate Armed Service Committee said Clinton's comments were "laudable," but accused the Obama White House of "trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever." Ranking member John McCain joined Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte in adding: "The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander-in-chief. The buck stops there."
In 2008, Clinton seemed to agree with this sentiment. In her Democratic primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton insisted that the job of being president requires a candidate capable of handling the multitude of responsibilities that come with it. "The buck stops in the Oval Office," she said.
Buzzfeed has the video:
On top of Clinton's acceptance of responsibility, there's another interesting story out this morning with coincidental timing. According to the Associated Press, the Obama White House is now pondering an aggressive military strike on Libya in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is an interesting development indeed, especially considering:
1) The Obama administration long-blamed an American-made YouTube video for the deadly attacks. Why would you plan a drone strike in Libya when the mere suggestion that the attack on the consulate was a coordinated terrorist attack was "both factually wrong and poorly timed"?
2) The Obama campaign has argued that the only reason we're still talking about Benghazi is because Republicans were trying to score political points. If that's true, then what purpose would a drone strike serve?
3) The administration doesn't even have a plan. According to the AP, the administration is already readying strike forces and drones, despite having no target.
The Obama administration is "aiming for a small pop, a flash in the pan, so as to be able to say, 'Hey, we're doing something about it,'" says retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Attalah, former Pentagon Africa counterterrorism director under President George W. Bush. Attalah suggests that Obama may be following the irresponsible example of Bill Clinton. After the embassy bombing in Nairobi in 1998, the Clinton administration responded with cruise missiles targeting a pharmaceutical factory. "It was a way to say, 'Look, we did something,'" he says.
"I take this very personally," Secretary Clinton added. "So we're going to get to the bottom of it, and then we're going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we're going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice."
Bang. Flash. Boom.