It’s 5,000-comment Friday, and we’re over in the comments section of Charles Krauthammer’s much-discussed column today about what Mitt Romney shoulda said in the last presidential debate. Mitt almost got it right — said that Obama was lying about his administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks in Libya! — but aimed at the wrong target. It’s not, Krauthammer says, about whether President Obama called the attacks acts of terror but about Obama’s indignation at being accused of misleading the public.

And “misled” is a loose enough term that it’s pretty hard for Obama to cover himself there. At least one detail from the administration and/or State Department — there being a peaceful cover protest at the time of the attack — has been contradicted in another news account. So, shazzam, an opening for Mitt to get real at the next debate. Krauthammer is kind enough to supply us with the French term for “shoulda said,” though in this instance we really need a term for what you realize you should have said only when Charles Krauthammer writes in his column what you should have said.

Right now, though, stuff keeps coming out that changes the story of what happened. Which means some of the stuff we’ve got is misleading. Right?

On the leading edge of the comments is the notion that “misled” is too loose a term from which to launch the kind of knockout punch Krauthammer envisions for Romney in the next debate.


When President Obama said he didn’t mislead, it should be obvious to any fair-minded person that he was saying that he did not intentionally deceive. Mr. Krauthammer, however, seems to define “mislead” as “to say something untrue, even if it’s in good faith.”

Now, it’s possible that Ambassador [Susan] Rice knew the truth and was lying. But Mr. Krauthammer offers no evidence of that. If she herself was misinformed in the morning for her first interview, there’s no reason to think she’d learn any better a few hours later by the time of her fifth interview.

outofthebox1 seems to doubt the administration deliberately misled — not so much because it would have been wrong, but because it would have been stupid:

As if the administration would have guessed that there wouldn’t be any subsequent investigation into the attack that would have showed the initial story was wrong. As if. As if the public news angle is more valuable than reality.

johnd17 thinks the whole PR mess could easily have been avoided:

Did anyone ever think of saying at the onset that “we aren’t sure what happened yet, so we are conducting an investigation”? I think most Americans would have gone for that. The problem is they probably did know what happened, and since they didn’t like the answer, they concocted a story about the mob and the film. Since the White House is into blaming others for almost everything, this works well. When someone get as indignant as Obama did the other night, you know they are lying and that they have a track record they are trying to live down. Very credible people don’t do that because they don’t need to.

Romney is going to really have at this next time.

Hypnic Jerk says it’s not actually the huge deal Krauthammer thinks it is:

How many people will be affected even the slightest bit by what happened in Libya? So many people seem to want to have Obama run out of town on a rail because of that one event and the fallout.

KevinChang wonders why this argument hasn’t caught fire with the Romney campaign — and suspects it’s a loser, for subtle reasons we don’t yet know:

And it’s telling that Romney doesn’t really want to hammer on this point — not in his foreign policy address, not in his stump speeches, and only meekly in the last debate.

It’s amazing to PostScript that the discussion about all of this seems to be in the context about how it affects the next debate, as if all the geopolitical issues involving the Benghazi story are otherwise immaterial. It’s a sentiment she saw in the New York Times today, on the lips of a surprising source: a Libyan, in Libya, who is actually suspected of being involved in the storming of the consulate:

“He accused the leaders of the United States of ‘playing with the emotions of the American people’ and ‘using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.’ ”