With the weekend’s grand slam appearance on the Sunday talk shows by yet another official unqualified to talk about Benghazi, the Obama Administration has again shot itself in the foot.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer attempted to defend U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s mischaracterization of the Benghazi terrorist attack, which she blamed on the now infamous anti-Islam video. It was a poor show.
All of this stands in stark contrast with White House’s handling of the Navy SEAL Team Six raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. We have all seen the images of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton huddled in the White House situation room with the national security staff, riveted to live images of the nighttime raid. It was hardly over before President Obama, speaking proudly as commander in chief, went on national television to announce the death of the enemy of the American people. The Administration even cooperated with the producers of the movie Zero Dark Thirty about the mission to kill bin Laden.
But now, “irrelevant” is the word chosen by Dan Pfeiffer over and over to describe some of the most pressing questions regarding the White House’s role in the Benghazi affair. Instantaneously, “irrelevant” became the word of the day on social media.
Where was President Obama the night of the terrorist attack? Unlike the Osama bin Laden raid, the President was disturbingly disconnected from the attack on an American ambassador. After the five o’clock intelligence briefing in which Obama was informed that the U.S. diplomatic facility was under attack and the U.S. ambassador to Libya missing, the President’s whereabouts remain unaccounted for the rest of the evening. The next day, Obama flew to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. “I don’t remember what room the President was in on that night, and that’s a largely irrelevant fact,” Pfeiffer snapped at Fox’s Chris Wallace.
Or who doctored the talking points, served up to the media and the American people by Rice on September 16 with such conviction? That also, according to Pfeiffer, is “irrelevant.”
Contrary to the election-time narrative that “al-Qaeda is on the run,” defeated by the Obama Administration, President Obama and his staff are now pleading ignorance across the board. Pfeiffer’s problematic media appearance could fit into an emerging narrative that the Obama Administration may have been more incompetent, than Machiavellian in its handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack. Administration officials spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity, proffering the line that bungling, ignorance, and inexperience may have been at the root of the debacle that left four Americans dead in Benghazi.
It is not likely, though, that Members of Congress will be satisfied with being told that their questions are “irrelevant” when hearings to unearth the truth resume this week.