The second presidential debate, on October 16, 2012, demonstrates how perilous it is to elect a president who has no record of note.  I am of course referring to Barack Obama’s election in 2008.  He vigorously campaigned on the nebulous theme of “hope and change,” and a majority of the American people subscribed to it.  Last night’s debate, in which he sought to defend his miserable presidential record, illustrates not only that he was not up to the job as the majority thought, but that he is also a liar. 

The President claimed that he had specifically referred to the September 11 attack on our embassy in Benghazi as “a terrorist act” the day after it occurred.  This claim is in stark contrast to Mr. Obama’s response to Joy Behar’s question, which was put to him when he appeared on “The View” two weeks after the attack.  He was explicitly asked by Ms. Behar whether the Benghazi attack was an act of terror, and he responded that all the facts had not yet been adduced and that the matter was still under investigation.  

Then, the same day, speaking before the United Nations, he proclaimed to the whole world that it was “a crude and disgusting video” that had fomented the attack.  

This indeed had been his administration’s official stance on the matter when Susan Rice, American ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on five Sunday news shows on September 16, and declared the attack the result of “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” It defies credibility to think that Ms. Rice’s message had not been previously approved by the White House. 

So fast forward again to the second presidential debate, in which the President insisted that he referred to the attack as an act of terror the day after it occurred.  His claim was and is absolutely shocking and preposterous and cannot possibly be believed. The only reasonable conclusion a thoughtful person can draw regarding the claim is that he was again trying to manipulate the American people, this time into thinking he had it right from the beginning.  He succeeded only in insulting their intelligence. 

For several weeks following the attack, Barack Obama and his administration were busy spinning the facts.  He sought to bolster a leading narrative of his campaign that may be phrased as follows: because Osama bin Laden is dead, al Qaeda was dealt a mortal blow and is no longer a major threat.  He figured that this narrative would bolster the likelihood of his re-election. His scolding Mr. Romney for playing politics with this episode is the height of chutzpah and hypocrisy. 

If there were ever a doubt about whether Barack Obama has attempted to cover up the truth concerning recent events in Benghazi, last night’s debate should have dispelled it. His statements and those of his administration cannot be written off as confused, improvident, or the result of incomplete and developing intelligence. His pronouncements have a definite, unmistakable intentionality about them. Let me say it as bluntly as I can:  the man lied and is involved in a cover up that, in some respects, exceeds the gravity of Watergate.  During that perfidious chapter of our history, at least no one was murdered. 

It is to Mr. Romney’s credit that he astutely disputed the President’s statement last night concerning Benghazi.  It did not help that the moderator Candace Crowley interjected herself into the debate as a fact-checker and “confirmed” the President’s claim.  (Remember that she was the woman who was determined to take an active role in the debate contrary to the rules on which the two sides had previously agreed.)  After foolishly imposing herself as a fact-checker, she admitted after the debate that she had been mistaken.  Mr. Obama, unfortunately, has not followed Ms. Crowley’s example. He continues to mislead and to deceive. 

The moderator’s inappropriate and ultra vires remarks, I think, caused Mr. Romney to be taken aback and to suffer a momentary lapse.  He did not follow up as he otherwise would and should have.  

Yet, on October 22, the two men will meet again to discuss exclusively foreign policy.  I would not be surprised if, in this third and final face-off, Mr. Obama loses what credibility he has left. He has already lost the argument on jobs and the economy.  The first two debates have cemented this fact.  The discussion of foreign policy will, I predict, drive the final nail into his political coffin. 

October 17, 2012