More than eight months after the horrific attacks on U.S. interests in Benghazi, the story has pretty much run out of juice:
*The failure to protect the U.S. diplomatic post is a consensus breakdown by government.
*The nature of the attack is now clear, despite mixed early mixed signals by the Obama administration.
*The talking-points controversy, thanks to a file of e-mails released last week, has lost its edge.
*The military response, or lack thereof, has been chewed over in hearings and on TV and in print.
Yet there’s still one mystery on the list of Benghazi answer-seekers, one that Fox News host Chris Wallace picked up yesterday on Fox News Sunday: Where was President Obama when all this mayhem went down? What was the guy actually doing?
Guest Dan Pfeiffer, a senior Obama adviser, unfurled the standard response—that the president was being briefed throughout the night on the matter. Wallace wasn’t satisfied and a little jousting took place:
WALLACE: But with due respect, you didn’t answer my question. What did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: He was kept — he was in constant touch that night with his national security team and kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: When you say his national security team, he didn’t talk to the secretary of state, except for the one time when the first attack was over. He didn’t talk to the secretary of defense. He didn’t talk to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Who was he talking to?
PFEIFFER: He was talking to his national security staff, his National Security Council, the people who keep him up to date about briefings as they happen.
WALLACE: Was he in the Situation Room?
PFEIFFER: He was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: Do you not know whether he was in the Situation Room?
PFEIFFER: I don’t remember what room the president was in on that night. And that’s a largely irrelevant fact.
The two wrangled a bit more, with Wallace insisting that there’s been no information on the president’s whereabouts that night. Then Pfeiffer hit with this line: “The assertions from Republicans here that somehow the president allowed this to happen or didn’t take action is offensive. It is absolutely an offensive premise. And there’s no evidence to support it.”
Whatever the motivation or the premise behind Wallace’s inquiry, it’s a fair one. When a diplomatic installation is overrun by terrorists and the country loses four people, the republic is entitled to know specifically what the commander in chief was doing and where he was doing it. There’s a certain amount of privacy that you cede when you become president.
That said, the presidential-whereabouts question won’t be enough to keep Benghazi in the scandal news media rotation for another week. The three minutes that Wallace devoted to the topic suggest Benghazi is just about done.