As we all know, there’s a crucial foreign policy debate Monday night, and in today’s Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol offers Mitt Romney advice I would’ve scoffed at last week. Kristol’s suggestion is that, rather than use the debate to litigate the Libya issue, instead, Romney should rise above argument in order to lay out a broad foreign policy vision that tells voters he’s ready to assume the role of Commander-In-Chief.
Under normal circumstances, this is a luxury no Republican could afford. If the candidate doesn’t tell the story of Obama’s incompetence and dishonesty, the media certainly won’t. But as we’ve seen in recent days, that’s no longer the case with Libya. While the scandal’s still not getting the attention deserved, over the last 48 hours, thanks to some individual reporters and outlets, the truth is getting out.
So, believe it or not, Romney really does have the luxury Monday night of rising above the bickering and presenting himself as a president-in-waiting.
For starters, Fox News’ Bret Baier has tirelessly (and thus far, flawlessly) done superb work in connecting the Libya dots. Last night was his best reporting yet in an hour-long “Special Report” that focused exclusively on Benghazi — from the security failures and heart-wrenching details of the attack itself, straight through to the White House cover up that would follow.
The special reruns Sunday on Fox News at 3 and 10pm Eastern, and if you haven’t already seen the Report, I urge you to tune in (it’s on YouTube, as well). Baier does deliver some new news — including an interview with the head of the U.S. Embassy’s Site Security Team. Known as the SST, this was a 16-member Special Operations unit that we’re told might’ve made the difference in the hours-long firefight that ensued the night of the attack.
Inexplicably, and against the wishes of the Libyan Embassy staff, the SST was pulled out in August even as security conditions worsened. Targeted attacks against Westerners were on the rise, including attacks against the consulate itself. The only reason the removal of this team makes sense is through a political prism. Apparently, the Obama Administration was worried an extension of the SST’s stay would send a signal that Libya wasn’t as flawless a lead-from-behind success as advertised.
Baier devotes an entire segment to the details of the actual seven-hour attack — and it’s both harrowing and inspiring. You won’t soon forget the individual stories of heroism, as American security forces risk all to protect Ambassador Chris Stevens and another diplomat. Of course, Stevens and his staff showed just as much bravery in doing their duty even as other Westerners fled Benghazi as the security situation crumbled.
This morning, CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson (whose work on Fast and Furious was crucial) added further context to the story with a report that asks why weren’t we able to get help into the region during those seven long hours:
Additionally, last night, ABC’s Jake Tapper added another layer to this administration’s never-ending fecklessness. Though the President has emphasized again and again his determination to hunt down the murderers, the leader of the al-Qaeda affiliated group suspected of being behind the attack spent “two leisurely hours” on a crowded luxury hotel patio sipping — get this — a strawberry frappe with a New York Times reporter:
You read that right — a strawberry frappe.
The New York Times article that maddening detail comes from was published two days ago and paints a devastating picture of a Libya falling into the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates and sympathizers — all of whom sound emboldened.
Adding to the wisdom of Kristol’s advice are those bad guys in media intentionally hoping to muddy the Benghazi waters prior to the debate. Both the Washington Post and L.A. Times have done double-duty in presidential water-carrying. Obama would likely love the opportunity to raise this nonsense at the debate in his defense, so why give him the opportunity — especially when the truth is what’s penetrating.
You’ll never catch me giving advice to any candidate, but at least in the case of Libya, some of the good guys in media have given Romney a choice he might not have had otherwise.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC