SIMON MALOY/Media Matters for America
We're not yet a month into Barack Obama's second term, and alreadyWashington Post political blogger Jennifer Rubin can see the president's "second-term curse" taking shape. At its core, according to Rubin, is last year's terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya -- or rather, several audacious and blatant falsehoods about Benghazi that Rubin is trying to hang around Obama's neck.
Rubin wrote in a February 7 blog post [emphasis in original]:
We are barely out of January and all this has occurred: We learned the economy contracted in the 4th quarter of 2012. President Obama is trying to wriggle out of a sequester, which he insisted upon in the 2011 budget negotiations. The Congressional Budget Office says our debt is dangerously increasing. Obama was forced to push Susan Rice aside and should have pushed Chuck Hagel off the boat. Jack Lew is now under scrutiny for ignoring federal law regarding Medicare insolvency warnings. And Benghazi -- you remember the story the mainstream media would not cover? -- has turned into a debacle. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified today that the president was absent during the Benghazi, Libya, attack(s) and neither he nor Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to anyone in the White House after briefly telling the president an attack was underway. What?!?
None of this is particularly compelling, as far as "curses" go. The Q4 GDP contraction was due to decreases in government spending (mainly defense spending), and other leading economic indicators actually showed some good news. "Personal consumption, fixed investment, and equipment/software all grew nicely. This is the real economy humming along," wrote Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal. And as for Obama "trying to wriggle out of the sequester" that he "insisted upon in the 2011 budget negotiations," that's only half the story. The sequester was a compromise agreed to by both parties after the GOP took the debt limit hostage and demanded spending cuts in order to raise it. And it's true that Susan Rice is not Secretary of State, primarily due to the fact that she was never nominated. Instead Obama nominated John Kerry, who sailed through confirmation, and Hagel is looking like he'll be confirmed as well. That's some curse!
Then there's Benghazi -- "the story the mainstream media would not cover," as Rubin absurdly put it. It isn't necessary to document the exhaustive degree to which Benghazi was and is covered by the mainstream press. Rubin's real issue is that the media coverage does not comport to the conclusion she and other conservatives arrived at regarding Benghazi: that the administration engaged in some sort of election season cover-up of the attack. It's easier and more self-serving, however, simply to allege that the media ignored Benghazi, as it allows right wingers like Rubin to pretend that they're fighting institutional corruption, and not merely on a witch hunt.
"Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified today that the president was absent during the Benghazi, Libya, attack(s)" wrote Rubin. That's completely false. The Associated Press article Rubin links to -- remember, the mainstream media refuses to cover Benghazi -- reported that Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs were meeting with Obama when they learned of the attack, and "the president told them to deploy forces as quickly as possible." Per the AP: "Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questioned whether Panetta spoke again to Obama after that first meeting. The Pentagon chief said no but that the White House was in touch with military officials and aware of what was happening."
But Rubin won't be deterred: "It is one thing to say that the president's appointees missed cables or got their talking points mixed up," she wrote. "It is quite another to say the president was AWOL during the entire episode and then went to Las Vegas the next day for a campaign event." That's not what Panetta said. Not even close. But why should we expect anything different from Rubin? She lies. A lot. And her lies about Benghazi are egregious to the point that her own paper is cleaning up after her.