A couple of weeks before the presidential election in November 2012, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney debated foreign policy and were moderated by CBS's Bob Schieffer.
This was about a month after the deadly September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and about 15 months after the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
The President scrambled to show that he was maintaining the forward momentum against Al Qaeda gained when Osama bin Laden was killed.
CNN's post-game analysis Obama stated that "Al Qaeda's core leadership has been decimated," which was disputed by Romney who claimed, "This is a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries, and it presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America."
As I write this, Al Qaeda, and more precisely Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has forced the Obama Administration to shut down, according to a U.S. State Department release in:
Abu Dhabi (UAE), Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt), Riyadh, Dhahran, and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Doha (Qatar), Dubai (UAE), Kuwait (Kuwait), Manama (Bahrain), Muscat (Oman), Sanaa (Yemen), Tripoli (Libya) , Antananarivo (Madagascar), Bujumbura (Burundi), Djibouti (Djibouti) , Khartoum (Sudan), Kigali (Rwanda), and Port Louis (Mauritius)
All are instructed to close for normal operations August 5 through August 10.
The State Department release contained only the city names. I confess I had to look up Antananarivo and Bujumbura. And maybe a few of the others.
As recently as Monday, according to CBS News, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continued the Obama Administration's Orwellian use of language by insisting that Al Qaeda is still "on the run" even though "We face an ongoing threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates."
I'm still trying to get my arms around that "leading from behind" business first reported in the New Yorker by Ryan Lizza in April 2011.
There is general agreement that whatever has caused this emergency is based on hard-core intelligence -- most of it, probably, swept up by the National Security Agency.
In Washington, nothing is as important as knowing something that very few people know. But it's no good knowing something if no one knows you know it.
Hence Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate who have been briefed are tripping all over themselves to get into the story, nodding knowingly and glancing at the few others who share the secrets, claiming to have walked up to the classified line by darkly suggesting they know more than they can tell the morning show host.
I know nothing about the nature of the threat. Remember I had to look up Antananarivo. But I do know that this is the logical result of one of the most inept foreign policy presidents since Jimmy Carter. Maybe even worse than Carter -- Obama still has three years to go.
Not only are our diplomats hiding under the beds in places like Bujumbura, but Secretary of State John Kerry was forced, the other day, to say the military is not in charge of Egypt. "The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment … to run the country. There's a civilian government," he said from Islamabad, Pakistan.
Gerry Ford claimed in a 1976 debate against Jimmy Carter that neither the Polish nor the Rumanian people were under the thumb of the Soviet Union. Perhaps because of that obviously irrational remark, Ford lost.
Kerry, as of this writing, is still Secretary of State.
While all that is swirling around, Vladimir Putin has granted Edward Snowden -- who claims that the NSA operations to find terror plots are illegal and spilled the beans about them -- asylum.
According to Time's Michael Crowley, that is just the latest in a series of thumbs to the Obama's eye. Among the others:
"Putin has backed Syria's embattled dictator, Bashar al Assad, long past the time Barack Obama declared that Assad has to go. He has cut off American adoptions of Russian children. He has expelled an alleged American CIA officer after an unusually public humiliation of the man."
If anyone is on the run, it is Barack Obama chased by his own foreign policy.