The questions the media resolutely refuses to ask about Benghazi

So, now we know that Susan Rice made the talk show rounds relying on an information sheet that “somehow” got modified between the CIA and Rice.  Hmmm.  Who had the authority to do that?  Hmmm.  I’m sure it wasn’t someone subordinate to Petraeus.  Maybe it was someone higher up the food change who reports directly to the President.  (Right about now, you should be hearing the name “James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence” floating through your mind.)

If Petraeus is telling the truth this time around (and sadly, his reputation for honor is somewhat besmirched), we can draw a few conclusions:

1.  If Obama knew, he deliberately committed a fraud against the American people.  If he didn’t do so for national security reasons, but did so for purely political ones, he and the American people have a problem.  This is especially true if it turns out that he made the decision not to send aid to the Americans under siege in Benghazi, because he feared that to do so would have created a spectacle that could have harmed is reelection chances.

2.  If Obama did not know, we have a serious problem in that we’ve elected the Sergeant Schultz of Presidents.  He knows nothing:  Not Fast & Furious, not Benghazi, not the post-Benghazi cover-up.  He is, as he himself said, just there for set decoration.  To the extent that he’s incapable of handling the duties of Commander in Chief and Chief Executive Officer, he and the American people have a problem.

Regarding these problems, it’s fun mental exercise to bandy about the word “impeachment.”  I am not a constitutional scholar, so I have no idea if either of these is an impeachable offense.  Both, however, severely harm the Obama brand in the wake of a close and hard-fought election.  That’s fundamentally bad for the American body politic.

Back to my list:

3.  If Rice didn’t know that the talking points had been doctored, she’s an idiot.  All the information was there, so that ordinary people reading the news could figure it out.  I think being an idiot should preclude you from serving as Secretary of State.

4.  If Rice did know that the talking points had been doctored, she’s a liar and dishonest broker.  This brings us back to point one:  if her lies were told for national security, that’s one thing; if they were told to insulate the president’s reelection chances from ugly publicity about a failed Middle East policy, that’s something else altogether.

I’ll close, not with any words from me, but with an email from a reader:

Today’s newspapers, radio, tv, internet blogs, etc are full of discussions about who knew what when concerning the participants in the attack on our consulate in Benghazi.  Fingers are pointing in every direction.  Hopefully, one day we shall know the truth.

One thing that is lost in this discussion is the fact that four Americans are dead, including a US Ambassador.  Were there calls for help?  Who from?  Who to?  Why no response?  Sec of Def Panetta’s explanation that “we don’t send troops into unknown situations” or something similar seems to have shut the discussion down.  What????  The new military doctrine is “We must know everything before we send in the military.”  Really????????

Four Americans are dead and Washington is focusing on what started the attack?  Don’t get me wrong, I think that is important to know – especially in light of what seems to be purposeful lying to the public. But as an American, and the mother of an ROTC son who might be called to serve, I want to know why we didn’t, and now apparently don’t, do rescue operations.  Also, if I was a member of the US Consular Corps, I would be rethinking my career choice.

Personalities matter

At Cal, I wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand that I was being taught the Marxist version of history.  All I knew is that my love for history was predicated on the power of personalities, while the history they taught at Cal ignored individuals and focused on mass movements that were described in terms of a Marxist economic narrative.

Would England have had a schism from the Catholic Church without Henry VIII’s lust for Anne Boleyn and his belief that she would give him a son?  I doubt it.  Anne Boleyn’s personality played a part in it too.  Things would have turned out differently if she’d just yielded, as her sister had, and become his mistress.

And how about Elizabeth I’s refusal to marry?  Whether she just didn’t want to share power or had a deeper psychological fear of marriage (death by beheading or childbirth), the fact remains that her single status made for an interesting balance of power during her reign — and handed the monarchy over to the Stuart line.  The Stuart line, of course, led to a stubborn Charles I who refused to yield on his royal prerogatives, triggering a revolution — which could be said to have paved the way for our own Revolution.

My examples are from the era of absolute monarchs.  Modern times are no different, though.  Germany was not a totalitarian dictatorship when Hitler entered politics.  His personality and beliefs transformed it into one, and his paranoia and sheer evil made it one of the worst places on earth.

Speaking of paranoia and evil, would a tyrant other than Stalin have murdered 20 million of his own people?  Do mass movements and Marxist economics create killers (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot), or is there a horrible alchemy that brings such individuals to the fore?  I don’t know.  But I do know that different tyrants would have resulted in different tyrannies, with different targets, and different MOs.

I mention all of this because of the Petraeus affair.  Up until six weeks ago, most of the nation, Left and Right, viewed him as a military visionary and a strong, noble hand at the helm of the CIA.  Now, it turns out that his personal failings, his libido and his arrogance, may have contributed to a web of deceit, as well as systemic corruption and antagonism.  Had he been less egotistical, events before, during, and after the Benghazi affair might have played out quite differently.  That is, if he hadn’t had a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head — one he placed there himself through his unethical conduct — and if he’d had better relations with his own people, he might have had more flexibility in dealing with Benghazi, and more incentive to be honest.