The Conversation

Cover-ups have their rewards

In response to Victoria Nuland Getting a Promotion:

The chief talking-point scrubber from the Benghazi outrage is getting a promotion?  Next you're going to tell me one of the key figures in the IRS abuse-of-power scandal has been put in charge of ObamaCare enforcement.

It's an interesting gamble that Obama would send Nuland to the Senate for confirmation, but he's probably gambling on the famed collegiality of that august body, and he's putting a lot of chips on the Benghazi scandal reaching its expiration date.  If Nuland's career froze, or if she was reprimanded somehow, it would look bad for the Obama narrative.  Promoting her is a way of brazening through the scandal.  

I don't understand how anyone could honestly wonder what the Benghazi scandal was about, or wonder what Obama stood to gain.  (The President himself has issued that challenge, in an effort to put it to bed.)  This Administration knows that spin control is all about timing and endurance.  If devastating information is released slowly, the friendly media will avoid stitching it together into a damaging narrative, as they would for a Republican Administration.  The puzzle pieces of scandal remain forever mixed and unconnected on the media's table.  They don't remind viewers of what Obama said yesterday, when they report what he's saying today.  

And the press stands ever ready to treat damaging information as "old news."  Obama's team seemed mildly annoyed when they had to explicitly instruct the press that Benghazi happened "a long time ago."  They don't usually have to scribble the expiration date on bad stories; the media takes that stuff off the shelf for them.  

So on the morning of September 12, 2012, Team Obama had every reason to believe they could survive Benghazi by slow-walking its answers and pumping out disinformation.  If they could get through the first few days, it would be all downhill from there.  The one thing they could not do was put all the pieces of the scandal before us at once - it was an organized terror attack, the Ambassador was left bizarrely unprotected, Libya is a mess, al-Qaeda is still very much in business, Obama scooted off to his Vegas fundraiser instead of taking charge of the situation, the Administration's image was deemed more important than helping the men under fire.  Mitt Romney might have been able to put it all together into a damaging "narrative," or the voters might have done it on their own.  

That's why every story this Administration tells is a shaggy dog story.  Even the most damaging revelations can be treated as minor quibbles or armchair quarterbacking, when those "bumps in the road" have grown small enough in the rear-view mirror.  Keep an eye on the one thing Team Obama does not want to talk about, at all, even though Benghazi was a "long time ago": the President's activities on that terrible night.  That would still hurt him with the public, and there would be no way to palm it off on low-level employees.


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