I disagree with Hightower.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Electoral despair

Maybe I'll vote for the Libertarian Party.
Two examples - one from each side.  (Including Obama's full text from the Rose Garden.)

 A.   In 2008 the price of gas went down below $2 where it stayed until after Obama came in.  Therefore Gov Romney can, (and did) on some technical ground, say the president's energy program isn't working because the price of gas is much higher than when he came in.  Of course the price of gas now is about what it was five or six years ago, about $4 a gallon. It was only down because of the great recession which began before Obama came in.

Two comments about this.
1.  I thought Romney should have been embarrassed to make that argument.
2.  However, technically it is true what he said, but Candy Crowley did not abandon her role as moderator and point out to the president that Romney was right about gas prices.

B.  Later Romney said that the president did not call the attack on the Benghazi Consulate an "act of terror" until 14 days after the event.
Obama said that he did call it an "act of terror".  And Candy Crowley then jumped into the debate and said
 said to Romney: "I -  he did in fact sir"

Well not exactly.

She was discussing in the next day on CNN where she works.    She vehemently claimed that she had not backtracked on her claim about what she said.  She then described what she had confirmed the president as having said as: including the word "terror"; or "acts of terror"; he did not say "act of terror", but rather "these acts of terror".

Actually what he said was "No acts of terror will ..."  and he did not explicitly call it a terrorist attack although there were several opportunities to use those words.

It appears to me that Ms. Crowley had something that was, at best, an impressionistic recollection of what the president said.  Certainly not enough to support her in the role of fact checker.  But that didn't stop her from abandoning her role as moderator and stepping up to defend her president.

As I said before, if Romney expects to be treated fairly by the press, then he is not smart enough to be president.

This is the full text.  The tone is quite different from what one sees in the excerpts at, for example, Media Matters. WB

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya
Rose Garden  Taken from the White House webpage.

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It's especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.


  1. I'd like to make a counter argument in favor of the president actually calling the attack in Libya an act of terror.
    You're focusing on the comment "No acts of terror..." This comment is not in reference to any particular acts of terror, and is a general statement on American values in the face of adversity.
    What you seemed to have missed is from a couple of line further down. "We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act."
    He used the adjective form of terror, terrible. Which, from the first definition from the OED, means: 1. Causing or fit to cause terror; inspiring great fear or dread. Also: awe-inspiring, awesome.
    Now, you can easily make the argument that I am reaching for an explanation that codifies my own worldview, and I'd retort that not all speeches can be written on a 5th grade level.
    But is a “terrible act” an “act of terror”? With the different definitions of “terrible” a “terrible act” is not always synonymous with an “act of terror”. However, in this context, because it directly references the events in Libya, it is.

    1. For the moment let’s accept your argument that the Prez called the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism in the Rose Garden speech.

      Why then would Rice, Clinton, Obama (in his UN speech), and a large portion of the media continually refer to the attack as a reaction to the movie trailer for the next several days?

    2. Michael, you are right that I was focusing on the "No acts of terror". I did so because that is the basis on which Crowley and the other presidential supporters are basing the claim that he called it an "act of terror". I am pleased to see that you agree that that was too generic to meet their requirements.

      You are also quite right that I did miss the relevance of the use of the word "terrible" later in his remarks.

      I suppose one could say that not catching that was a terrible mistake.

  2. Thought-provoking post Wayne -- thank you.

    I believe the President can claim that in his Rose Garden speech he referred to the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi as an "act of terror." In particular, he can claim that the phrase "acts of terror" refers to something from two paragraphs prior: in that paragraph, the President makes 9/11 a part of the overall context and also mentions Benghazi as well.

    But, that's a bit of a problem, since between the references to 9/11 and Benghazi, he also mentions soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely he's not claiming now that they were part of some kind of "war on terror", is he?

    Anyway, at best the connection between "acts of terror" and Benghazi is oblique, in my view. Perhaps as Michael suggests, the word "terrible" is meant to be taken as the adjective form of "terror" -- but to me this is even more indirect.

    Speaking as a citizen and as a member of the President's party, I'm really bothered by his opaqueness here. I mean, they killed our main man in Libya (and other Americans as well), and I have to parse the language of the President's speech to figure out what he really thinks about it?

    This verbal elusiveness -- along with all of the references from him (in this same speech) and other spokespersons (UN Ambassador Susan Rice comes to mind) about the nefarious video -- signal to me that he wanted to hedge his language on this. If he were doing so because there's an ongoing investigation about the incident, then that would be understandable. But then he and his surrogates should have withheld their statements in which they clearly suggest that the video contributed to the attack on our people in Benghazi.

    So what was the purpose of his blurry language about this? A man as bright and verbally dextrous as our President can speak much more clearly than he did. My guess would be that he knew what he was doing. In particular, it is hard for me to see it as anything other than an obfuscating, election season, CYA maneuver.

    *If* that's the game the President is playing -- and I'm trying to stay open to the possibility that I'm misreading him -- then should I hold it against him?