Jonah Goldberg
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Moreover, Clinton was part of an administration that crafted an entire PR strategy to blame these attacks on "an awful Internet video." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was unequivocal: This was a "response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting." In his address to the United Nations, President Obama mentioned the video six times but al-Qaeda once. When he appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," he blamed the video directly. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on five Sunday shows blaming the video. All of this happened when they already knew it was not true on the day of the attack, and even the president of Libya publicly called the protest explanation ridiculous.

But again, the lying, while outrageous, is incidental to the real offense, which is twofold. First, why did the administration lie? Well, it wanted to conceal its utter failure to prepare for terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 -- which is like being surprised by Christmas falling on Dec. 25. Also, the Obama administration, by which I mean the Obama campaign, was desperate to protect its hyped record of fighting terrorism. A "spontaneous" attack invited not by the administration's shortcomings but by some nutty video was just the ticket.

Indeed, on this score, Clinton was true to her word. While none of the murderers have been apprehended, the filmmaker is in jail, the picture of his arrest splashed across the globe.

Which brings us to the second part: the nature of the lie. Remember, not all lies are equally harmful. In this case, the U.S. government responded to the murder of four Americans by treating our constitutional rights as part of the problem. A former teacher of constitutional law, Obama was happy to watch the country argue new limits on free expression and the necessity of giving bloodthirsty savages and terrorists a heckler's veto on what Americans can do or say.

Clinton was in on that lie, and that makes all the difference in the world.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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