I raised an eyebrow when the specifics of the Presidential debates were announced back in July. Sure, I expected the regular gaggle of liberal journalists participating in the debate as “moderators.” But what caught my attention was the announcement that the moderator of the Vice-Presidential debate would be Martha Raddatz, chief foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News.
The last two VP debates were moderated by Gwen Ifill, a run-of-the-mill, jack-of-all-trades left-wing journalist. The choice of a foreign policy liberal journalist looked like an obvious move to blunt Ryan on his signature issue: fiscal policy. Perhaps a deft move at the time, but one that is about to spectacularly backfire.
Grading on a steep curve, Joe Biden is one of the Democrats’ elder statesmen on foreign policy. For reasons that aren’t at all clear, the media consider Biden something of an expert on national security and diplomacy. I’m not certain he’s been wrong on every foreign policy issue during his tenure, but he has a pretty dismal track record. Still, the media and Democrats think it’s a strong suit for him and was an important factor in Obama selecting him as running mate.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has made a name for himself as the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of the nation’s leading experts on government spending and the deficit. He has likely forgotten more about the federal budget than Biden ever knew. Considering that the debt and deficits are the second most important issue for voters this November, a thorough discussion of the topic, from two leading members of the legislative branch, would have been illuminating. Obviously, the media had to step in to minimize the issue of government spending.
So, they handed the moderating reins to a journalist who has focused exclusively on foreign policy and is largely unknown to voters. Of course, they will cover some domestic issues, but the media want to ensure they have an additional resource to push back on Ryan’s perceived weakness on the issue.
It will likely be a terrible miscalculation. Tomorrow’s debate comes on the heels of an unprecedented Congressional hearing surrounding the events of the murder of our Ambassador, and three other Americans, in Libya. This isn’t just a news story, but a focal point to remind voters of the incompetence, lies and cover-up from the Obama Administration concerning the events in Libya. Each new piece of information puts the Administration’s actions in a more negative light.
Let’s recap a bit of what we know. The Obama administration pulled a security detail out of Libya, in spite of a growing number of violent attacks. An attempt was made to assassinate the British ambassador. American officials in Benghazi pleaded for security and warned there was a threat of terrorist attack. The Libyan government warned that an attack was imminent. On September 10th, Al Qaeda urged Libyans to attack Americans. And we, as a country, did nothing. On the evening of 9/11, four Americans were murdered.
The Obama Administration lied and said the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video. They put forward the US Ambassador to the UN to promulgate the lie on any Sunday show that would book her. They denied any forewarning of attacks or that they decided against tightening security. The lies and cover-up went on for over a week, followed by a daily drip of new information revealing the extent of their cover-up.
A good source tells me that Romney’s chief advisor, Stu Stevens, has an almost fervently religious conviction against using any foreign policy issues in a campaign. But the Libya debacle isn’t really about foreign policy. Its about competency and the public’s trust in the Administration. The Obama Administration made virtually every wrong decision in the run-up to our Ambassador’s murder. And then, they lied about the event and tried to cover up their mistakes. No Administration can survive when its lost the public’s trust.
So, by all means, let’s make foreign policy a centerpiece of the VP debate. Thank you, mainstream media, for delivering a foreign policy debate at the absolute worst time for the Obama administration. I’m sure it all seemed so clever back in July. October, in the middle of a foreign policy crisis? Not so much.