Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
After the recent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghanzi, Libya, Democrats are looking like a bunch of political incompetents. The big political issue - which quickly arose in the aftermath of the tragedy - posed why the Obama administration had not provided robust security of the facility.
The Republicans have cornered Obama and the State Department on this issue. The only response has been a couple of cowed bureaucrats giving lame testimony to Congress and VP Biden saying, “We didn’t know.” What would be a robust coordinated push back by the Democrats, for example at the next Presidential debate?
I say go on the offense and stop playing defense. What’s the offense on this issue? If you're President Obama, saying something like this:
“The Republicans in Congress have blood on their hands. Daryll Issa and the other extremists in the House cut funding for diplomatic security. If they hadn’t cut funding in the zeal to shrink the government our consulate would have been protected and our four brave diplomats would still be alive.”
That’s how you push back!
It’s hard to understand how the Democrats can essentially huddle and try to throw up a defensive line which is filled with weak players such as UN Ambassador Susan Rice who went on all the TV shows and pretended that the U.S. did not know the attack against the U.S. facility in Bengasi had been a terrorist attack
That brings me to the issue of how any administration should treat deadly and violent attacks against American assets. I say it’s ALWAYS a terrorist attack. That’s all there is in 2012 - terrorists. That’s all this is politically realistic in this brutal political environment.
When a mob burns American flags and throws firebombs against U.S. property, especially an embassy or consulate, it is terrorism. Period. Academic analysis can come later when historians write the story.
“But surely,” you ask, ”that’s not telling the truth. Lot’s of demonstrations are nationalist, not terrorist acts. Our politicians and leaders should not exaggerate.” Well, most of what politicians tell unsuspecting voters is the truth stretched beyond recognition.
By not changing the narrative of the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi the Democrats have shown remarkable political naïveté and disorganization. If they continue down this path the Republicans will win the White House and may take the Senate to boot. Unless Obama can turn the conversation around in the next debate.