Winning the news, 24 hours at a time
There's no way to top the staggering you-gotta-be-kidding-me factor of President Empty Chair claiming he learned about the IRS scandal by watching the same news reports as the rest of us, on Friday night. Every functioning B.S. detector in America overloaded and blew up at that one. His most loyal servants in the media will swallow it with some difficulty, having already sacrificed their journalistic instincts and self-respect to get him re-elected, but even they will be forced to spend the news few months fuming in silence while everyone else cracks wise about it.
Really, Mr. President? You turned to Michelle on Friday night and said, "Can you believe this stuff about the IRS we're just hearing about for the first time? I can't believe I wasn't briefed. I sure hope some reporter uses the one question I'm granting the media during my joint presser with David Cameron on Monday, so I can weigh in!"
But let's not forget the almost equally risible claim by the President that he can't see any logical reason for any Administration to stage a cover-up over Benghazi, in which some of the facts could only be concealed for a few days.
I've been explaining that non-stop since Hour One of the cover-up. Obama's political team understands the importance of winning individual news cycles. Damaging revelations can be defused by stringing them out, provided a friendly press is willing to help by changing the subject. All the President's paid operatives, and voluntary auxiliaries in the newsrooms, need is time.
If all the revelations of Benghazi had come crashing into the American consciousness on the morning of September 12, 2012, the Obama campaign could have been destroyed. All of it, all at once, would have been blockbuster stuff. The Ambassador was sent into a terrorist hotspot with no protection to speak of, on the anniversary of 9/11? His requests for more security were ignored, even as that part of Libya disintegrated into chaos? No provisions for his rescue were made, and special-ops were told to stand down? A couple of former SEALs ignored the stand-down order and died fighting to protect the Ambassador against impossible odds? Obama turned in early to get ready for a Vegas fundraiser that night?
Remember, Mitt Romney did voice some immediate criticism of Obama the morning after Benghazi and the Cairo embassy sacking... and the press gang-tackled him. If the full truth of Benghazi had emerged that day, fully vindicating him, the effect would have been devastating. Even Obama's low-information voter base would have taken notice.
But spreading things out over a couple of days allowed Team Obama to introduce all sorts of confusing elements to the story, prominently including the "spontaneous video protest" narrative. Remember, Obama was pushing that nonsense hard, not just for days but weeks. He even referenced it during his U.N. speech, with the infamous "future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam" line. The situation was muddled enough to get Obama through the second presidential debate, and that was absolutely vital. After the drubbing Obama took in the first debate, he couldn't afford to end the second one kissing the canvas after a Benghazi pounding.
With the help of willing media accomplices, he succeeded in changing the subject. Then he killed more time insisting that nobody should venture an opinion on Benghazi until some long, slow investigations were completed, long after the election... and then his spokespuppets started whining that the whole thing was "old news." Pretending there was no obvious political benefit from all this is yet another insult to the intelligence of the American public, and yet another challenge to a supine media, which is running out of chances to re-discover its self-respect and get off its knees.