President Barack Obama works on Afghanistan policy speech prep with Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications in the Oval Office, Nov. 30, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, work with President Obama in November 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

They may not all be conservatives but a lot of people with little fondness for the GOP have been mugged by reality these days when it comes to the Obama administration’s buffoonish foreign policy. The once-swooning press is disgusted with Obama officials’ evasion and doubletalk. (The best show in town is now watching the Associated Press’s Matt Lee torment State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki with prickly questions about her boss’s failures and gaffes.) Lawmakers from both parties express frustration over the president’s half-measures on Russia.

And yet the media’s and Democrats’ barking is accompanied by no biting. Why haven’t Senate Democrats run over the White House and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to enact Iran sanctions they know all too well are the final card to be played before Iran becomes a threshold nuclear power? Why don’t these same Democrats and the punditocracy who’ve carried the income-inequality message demand action on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create thousands of blue-collar, high-paying jobs? And where are they when the Benghazi, Libya, scandal’s smoking gun — deputy national security Ben Rhodes’s e-mail instructing the team to go with the already disproven narrative (the anti-Muslim video made them do it) — finally emerges 18 months after the attack that killed four Americans?

The last one is the most puzzling. For more than a year, the Democrats and their media fans have declared that Benghazi doesn’t implicate the White House. (President Obama’s whereabouts that night are still unknown, but they are willing to go with the “fog of war” explanation for the serial misrepresentation that went on as late as Sept. 25, 2012.) They insisted all the relevant information had been disclosed. Neither turns out to be true.

Here you have the deputy national security adviser, who you would think would be consumed with intelligence matters after the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in more than thirty years, taking time out to spin the story for the White House messengers. His story directly contradicted the understanding at that point in the crisis of the State Department and the CIA as to the nature of the attack. So where did he come up with the idea this was about a video? And why was he instructing his colleagues to say that this definitely, absolutely, no way-no how was a reflection on the administration’s policies? (As an aside, Rhodes’s failure to step forward when a mid-level State Department official was been lambasted for altering the talking points reminds one of Richard Armitage, the real culprit in the Plame affair during the Bush administration who let I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and other colleagues twist in the wind, although he was responsible for the leak in that case.)

And to Republicans seeking to pin the “cover-up” on Hillary Clinton, let’s get real. Her real failure here — something much graver and disqualifying — was dropping the ball on the infiltration of jihadis into Libya and her disinclination to take protective measures that would have saved the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That is where her most egregious mistake lies.

Let’s be clear: The Rhodes memo certainly seems to confirm the allegations Republicans have been making for more than a year: the White House was intentionally spinning after the attack so as not to damage their reelection prospects. The White House denied this, and now there is evidence the critics were right. Isn’t the mainstream media the least bit curious about what happened? You’d think their new-found independence and critical analysis of Obama foreign policy would provoke some rumination about Benghazi. Or perhaps, they are simply unwilling to recognize that they missed the boat all along and concede that conservative media scooped them again and again.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.