Once you have a grasp of this president's priorities, his team's responses to challenges like these are entirely predictable and expected. Kudos to David Gregory for asking this tough question, to say nothing of his follow-up dig:
GREGORY: “Was it inappropriate for him to go to a fundraiser the day after this attack now in retrospect knowing that it was a terrorist attack, inappropriate for him to engage in politics as usual?”
DAVID PLOUFFE: “No. The president obviously is 24/7 engaged in the job of the presidency. He has spent an enormous amount of time in these weeks, by the way, in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. So absolutely not. A president is on call 24/7, and that just comes with the job.”
GREGORY: “24/7, but apparently not during U.N. meetings..."
But as Stevens met with Benghazi civic leaders, U.S. officials appear to have underestimated the threat facing both the ambassador and other Americans. They had not reinforced the U.S. diplomatic outpost there to meet strict safety standards for government buildings overseas. Nor had they posted a U.S. Marine detachment, as at other diplomatic sites in high-threat regions. A U.S. military team assigned to establish security at the new embassy in Tripoli, in a previously undisclosed detail, was never instructed to fortify the temporary hub in the east. Instead, a small local guard force was hired by a British private security firm as part of a contract worth less than half of what it costs to deploy a single U.S. service member in a war zone for a year. The two U.S. compounds where Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a sustained, brutal attack the night of Sept. 11, proved to be strikingly vulnerable targets in an era of barricaded embassies and multibillion-dollar security contracts for U.S. diplomatic facilities in conflict zones, according to interviews with U.S. and Libyan officials and eyewitnesses in recent days.
Days before the ambassador arrived from the embassy in Tripoli, a Libyan security official had warned an American diplomat that foreigners should keep a low profile in Benghazi because of growing threats. Other Westerners had fled the city, and the British had closed their consulate. Despite the security inadequacies and the warning, Stevens traveled to Benghazi to meet openly with local leaders.
Hence the term "total failure." I'll leave you with John McCain tearing into the administration and slapping down Harry Reid on CNN's State of the Union:
Reid's banal statement epitomizes the Left's latest perfidious talking point. They're trying to attack Mitt Romney and Republicans for "politicizing" the Benghazi attacks, when the White House's entire disinformation campaign over more than two weeks was clearly designed with the goal of protecting Obama politically. The administration screws up royally on security, an ambassador gets murdered, embassies are under siege as the president's foreign policy implodes, the White House lies about what happened, the investigation remains a total mess, and the president blows off meetings with key foreign leaders -- but shame on the Republicans for pointing these things out and expressing justifiable outrage.
UPDATE - American Crossroads releases a brutal new web ad on this:
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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