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Obama’s re-election is a tragedy, for the US and the world. Now his second term will be overshadowed, as the Benghazigate cover-up unravels

The tragedy is not just that Obama has been a bad president; it’s that Romney would have been a good one

By on Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Obamas and Bidens celebrate. Perhaps, though, not for long (Photo: PA)

The Obamas and Bidens celebrate. Perhaps, though, not for long (Photo: PA)

As I write, the counting is still not complete in the American presidential elections. Under the (to an outsider) bizarre American electoral college system, the result is now a landslide, despite the fact that each candidate has an almost identical number of votes, both having gained around 49%. The graceful concession speech has been delivered, and Obama has been re-elected. I couldn’t face watching his victory speech, so I have turned off the box; now, I sit here, grimly tapping away.

I cannot help regarding this result as a tragedy, for America and for the world. Firstly, because Obama has been a dreadful president; second, because I get the strong impression that Romney would have been a good one, despite the fact that, though his campaign had a late surge, it didn’t quite have the cutting edge it should have had. But a good campaign doesn’t necessarily produce a successful presidency, as Obama’s first four years have amply demonstrated. Obama was the better campaigner, this time too, it seems: he had a better “ground game”, the pundits seem to think, and he spent hundreds of millions on negative advertising which in key industrial states like Ohio blackened Romney’s character as a ruthless and uncaring capitalist who cared nothing for the working class, and who had, for instance, opposed state support for a managed bankruptcy of the automobile industry which would have had the same effect as what actually happened: in fact Romney called for just such a state-supported bail-out: the Obama campaign simply lied, over this and much else.

The other reason Romney lost was that he took the stragic decision, in order to mount a positive and optimistic campaign, not to make the Benghazigate cover-up an election issue; and that Obama’s steadfast refusal to respond to the growing evidence of this mounting scandal was supported by the equally scandalous failure of most of the American media to report it.

But not everyone failed to report it: enough was in the public domain for Romney, if he had kept his nerve, to have mounted an indictment powerful enough to make Obama unelectable, as unelectable as Nixon would have been if the Watergate cover-up had emerged in time (in other words actually during his re-election campaign rather than some time later). The Fox News correspondent, Catherine Herridge, brilliantly reported the whole affair: but since Fox News was clearly on Romney’s side, its reporting was largely ignored. But Reuters, CNN, CBS and others nevertheless retailed most of it: the facts were out if you knew where to look.

The general lines of the scandal are clear enough. Firstly, there was the fact that intelligence immediately indicated that the US consulate in Benghazi was destroyed in a planned terrorist attack, not as the result of a “spontaneous” protest triggered by a YouTube video. This, however, is what the Obama administration, including President Obama, repeated obsessively for weeks, knowing it to be untrue.

The greatest scandal, however, is that the murdered American ambassador Stevens, who had repeatedly asked for more security — a request which was repeatedly refused because it was “unnecessary” (after all, hadn’t the President killed Osama bin Laden with his own bare hands, thus defeating al-Qaeda and all other terrorism?) — had made it quite clear that terrorism was still a major threat in Libya, however politically inconvenient this might be, and that he was himself in danger. Knowing this, the administration did nothing to protect him.

Catherine Herridge established this beyond any doubt, in what will become recognised, in the history of this affair, as her famous “smoking gun” revelation, which established the State department’s (and therefore Obama’s) involvement in the scandal and in its cover-up beyond any doubt.

Here it is (October 31), as it was revealed on Fox News:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Disturbing new information about Benghazi and the Obama administration. Fox News obtained a classified cable sent in August from the US mission in Benghazi to the State Department in Washington. The cable, coming just weeks before the attack, warned the Benghazi consulate could not sustain a coordinated attack.

But that is not all that was in that cable. Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who has read that cable, is here with the latest — Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the status of the cable is that I really believe, having read it, that it is the smoking gun warning here. You’ve got this emergency meeting in Benghazi less than a month before the attack. At that briefing, the people are told that there are 10 — 10 — Islamist militias and al-Qaeda groups in Benghazi.

The consulate cannot sustain a coordinated attack and that they need extra help. And this information goes directly to the office of the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. So again, you’re got the culpability of the State Department. This is a very specific warning that they are in trouble, they need help and they see an attack on the horizon.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what’s the date on this cable?

HERRIDGE: It’s the 16th of August.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any response or any indication that there’s been any direct response to that cable between the 16th of August and the 11th of September?

HERRIDGE: I don’t know what the classified traffic was between the 16th and the 11th, but I asked the State Department today specifically, given the warnings and how detailed they were and the intelligence that al-Qaeda and these militias were operating in Benghazi, was any extra security considered or put in place in light of the 9/11 anniversary? You’re three weeks out. I think that’s the critical question.

And the State Department said to me today they wouldn’t comment because it’s classified. And they are also waiting for the outcome of this investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who was the signatory to the cable?

HERRIDGE: Ambassador Stevens.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you say that it was — it went to the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Was there any indication that it actually went to her? ….

HERRIDGE: The copy to her, and then it routes out, in this case, probably, typically to diplomatic security, their Near East Asia desk and others. But it is specifically addressed to her office.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did you get to see it?

HERRIDGE: It came to me through confidential sources… the warning that came from Benghazi was very specific. It said, We cannot withstand an attack. The militias are everywhere. Al-Qaeda is here. This was known to the US intelligence community, as well, and that they really could not see a situation where the security was going to turn around. They said it was trending negatively.

This comes three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks before the attack. I can’t think of anything that would be more specific than if these groups had emailed the State Department and said, Here’s the time, here’s the place and here’s the method of the attack, because the cable names the two groups, al-Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia, that we believe were responsible for this assault.

Knowing all this, Governor Romney made the decision not to mount an indictment of the President as part of his campaign. That may arguably have been wise, in view of the way the media would have gone for him in defence of the President. It might have been risky. On the other hand, what he did wasn’t successful either.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and no doubt there will be many now to say the same thing; personally, I had hoped all along that Romney himself would accuse the Obama administration of the scandalous cover-up and the equally scandalous refusal to provide Ambassador Stevens with more security, scandals which with congressional attention already on them will now begin to unravel too late, and which will, I suspect, come more and more to dominate Obama’s second term. We shall see what we shall see.

  • la catholic state

    Basically it is time for Christians especially Catholics to live out our Faith more purely and rely on Christ rather that political success….which may not be coming soon.  We also have to increase Evangelisation efforts and draw more people into the Faith…even if it means simply standing on street corners dispensing Catholic literature and prayer cards, or holding more public Benedictions where all, Catholic or not can worship Christ Whom the secular Elites prefer to remain locked behind Church doors.  We tend to focus on moral issues only in a Christ-free type of environment.  I don’t think this is going to work anymore.

    Remember in Communist China where there is governmental persecution, the Church seems to thrive and grow at grass roots level.

  • Rjr1632

    This pitiful rant belongs elsewhere, not on a Catholic website. Oddie is well named. Ryan in Ct. USA

  • mtherien

     I find the hiss of a viper to be moving and inspiring as well!!

  • Jon Brownridge

     Surely that difference of 2,822,616 means that most Americans voted for Obama.

  • Jon Brownridge

     I note you have 17 “Likes” attached to your comment. That is encouraging as it means there are lots of readers who agree with your point of view. The anti-Obama rhetoric being expressed on this site is truly astonishing. President Obama was handed a mind-boggling task after the utter devastation caused by that incompetent buffoon, George W. Bush. Obama is a man of integrity and principle as well as being light years away from Romney intellectually. Interesting too that a poll I read yesterday indicates that racism is still alive and well in the USA as well as (apparently) in Britain.

  • Lefty048

    please mr. oddie watch something with fox news .    their view is skewered  to be fair so are others.  the republicans lost or romney lost because of their view of latinos.  they want to send them back or as mr romney said ” self deport”.  the problem with that is that would deport family member of those here legally.   the catholic church supports family doesn’t it? what you miss in england and only watching and quoting fox news is that a third of the republican party are rascists.  i am saying this from new york not the deep south.  i talk to these people every day at work.   priests and nuns i know dont vote for rascists neither do i.  this is not to say mr romney is, he is not.  if he had run the same campaign he had run to become governor of mass. he would have won 47 states.  he threw his lot in with these people to get the nomination.  mccain got 35% of the latino vote. romney gor 27%. if romney had gotten 35% he would be president.  of course there are the people who believe the earth is 9000 years old and don’t believe in science.   god created science.  so please watch fox but please watch others.

  • Jon Brownridge

     “As a Catholic, he has shown a disdain for the beliefs of the Church as illustrated in the contraception issue.”
    Since when is Obama a Catholic?

  • Bill bannon

    Catholics look odd focusing of Benghazi and Obama (and they should focus on it)… when they shielded then Ratzinger and John Paul II from any responsibility as leaders for the sex abuse scandal which broke into US TV in the mid 80′s in the Southern US case of a priest multiple offender. There was a 60 Minutes type magazine show then about our clergy abuse but our writers recently convinced some that this broke out in 2002 in the media. We cover up for our top people and blame those under them but with Obama we change the rules…he is demonized as responsible as top man while our top men get flattery when they fail to protect. It’s literally amazing.

  • Jon Brownridge

     You hit the nail on the head. Jesus was an extreme Liberal who turned upside down everything the Conservative government of His day stood for. In the end it got Him executed but if he were voting in the USA in 2012 his vote would have have been squarely, firmly, and unambiguously for Barack Obama.

  • Charles Martel

    Barack Obama = Julian Felsenburgh

  • Nardia

    We Hispanics had to choose between those who hate their race  and those who hate their faith and family. Yet this is only evident among those with some degree of economic comfort and education. Most of us, as the rest of the society, are struggling to survive and did not understand what is at play. I vote for Romney but I am disgusted with the ideology of the Republican party, they represent the rich, the war, the gun lobby, many of them are racist, and many of them shows a selfishness beyond believe. Is so difficult to understand our vote?

  • Jon Brownridge

     In fact, Obama is personally opposed to abortion but recognizes that he cannot impose his personal moral values on an entire nation. According to a statistic quoted by our parish priest, 68% of church-going Catholics believe that abortion is justified in some circumstances.

  • Sweetjae

    Eventhough Obama is not my man and only the difference of 2% decided the outcome, THE RULE IS THE RULE! You cannot change the rule of the game just because your man lost, thats how democracy works. Anyways, an interesting fact, Obama only got 39% of the White votes yet he still won the race, why? Then imagine if Romney had the christian Latinos (other minorities) on his camp, it would be a landslide.

  • Deodatus

    Obama’s humane, considered, indeed courageous, programme has been obstructed at every turn by Republican far right, Tea Party intransigence.  Rather than blaming Obama for lack of progress in vital areas of polity, Republicans and the Catholic right should look in the mirror. Hopefully Obama will employ Presidential prerogative and veto boldly in the second term.  

  • David Lindsay

    As for the Tea Party, Angus King beat Charlie Summers in Maine. Not only did Elizabeth Warren win back Massachusetts from the man whom, oddly enough, the Tea Party put in, Scott Brown. But, far more strikingly, Richard Mourdock, its instrument for removing the valiant anti-nuclear activist Dick Lugar, lost Indiana to Joe Donnelly, whose victory was really the story of the night: a bit of a Blue Dog, but no Wall Street puppet, and a solidly pro-life, pro-union, immigration-controlling, Second Amendment Democrat.

    The Republican Senators who held on against pro-life Democrats were two of the Tea Party’s top targets, Orrin Hatch against Scott Howell in Utah, and Bob Corker against the spitefully reviled Mark Clayton in Tennessee. Neither of those Dems ought to give up. I am given to understand that neither of them is going to. Pennsylvania re-elected the splendid Bob Casey. West Virginia re-elected Joe Manchin, pro-life and pro-coal. In North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp also won by taking the “all of the above” line on energy, and within that by preferring those sources which create employment while securing independence from the Middle East and elsewhere.

    Montana re-elected Jon Tester, the pro-logging farmer, stalwart of the Wesleyan Holiness tradition as expressed through the nondenominational ecclesial polity of the Prairie West, defender of traditional marriage, scourge of corporate personhood and other big business scams, advocate of Patriot Act repeal, and opponent of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    And that is just the Senate.

    Crude reports of the end of the culture wars, the end of white male America, and what have you, are vast, absurd exaggerations. Rather, one party has become a sect, in which only people who can hold to all fiscal conservatism (generally so called), social conservatism (of a sort), and foreign policy hawkishness are welcome. Those three are in any case logically incompatible with each other, and the failed Republican nominee for President was simply not a social conservative at all. On the contrary, he derived an income from the performance of abortion.

    By contrast, the party that continues to accommodate a range of views has become the natural party of government. How could it be otherwise in so vast and diverse an entity as the American Empire?

  • South Saxon

    War does not solve problems. It only creates new ones.

  • Jon Brownridge

     In fact, Obama is personally opposed to both abortion and same-sex marriage, but he recognizes that no President can impose his personal values on an entire nation. As for Christian values, Christ was the ultimate Liberal – he opposed the Conservatives of His day, did not reject prostitutes and sinners, accepted at least one gay man into his discipleship, and generally promoted the values that everyone now calls Liberal values. What is surprising is that so many Catholics support a Conservative agenda that condemns a person based on social standing, sexual orientation, gender, race, and financial deprivation.

  • Jon Brownridge

     The point being made is that the Republican agenda is totally at odds with the Church’s social teaching. Deodatus makes a very significant point.

  • Jon Brownridge

     Is this all about you then? How about what that other President said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

  • john pfannestiel

    Our US bishops still have not learned that politics is a “winner take all” game. They aren’t good at politics … and, frankly, they shouldn’t be. Stay away from politics; it’s a dangerous and ugly game that only gets the players dirty and beaten up, particularly if you lose. And the bishops lost. They no longer have a place at the table …. and they shouldn’t be there anyway. After forty years, we should have learned that we are not going to prevail on this issue politically. It might be unfair; it might be unpleasant, and it might be a bitter pill to swallow … but playing the political game is getting us nowhere fast. And really, isn’t our goal to save lives? It isn’t to elect the right politician.

    I am as pro-life as anyone I know … but abortion is not going to be settled politically. It’s time for the single issue folks to understand that and accept it.  You can be pro-life even with a very pro-abortion president in office … be pro-life, but it’s time to accept reality. Pushing a candidate to commit political suicide gets us nowhere. Besides laws do not change peoples minds and hearts … witness and persuasion do. That’s what we should be doing and doing well. Screaming that the president (for whom I did not vote) is a “baby-killer” only makes us look crazy. Helping a pregnant single mom, teaching our children that all life is precious, etc … that is far more convincing than our obsession with the notion that a politician holds the key to everything we do.

    When pro-lifers and Catholics think we need a pro-life and pro-Catholic president in order to be pro-life and Catholic, they are succumbing to the very conviction that liberals hold: government is the answer to all our problems. It isn’t.

  • guest

     Where is the evidence for that?  Romney and Obama presented the SAME EXACT STRATEGY for Iran.  The only war drums that sounded were from John McCain.  On the contrary, yes, Bush entered into Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama needlessly entered Libya on false pretexts (resulting in thousands of American weapons in the hands of extremist groups).  Further, he escalated involvement in Afghanistan (which resulted in many more dead Americans than the previous counter-terrorism strategy), and is not-so-covertly involved in Uganda (for no real reason).

    In addition, the Obama administration is directly responsible for running assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels on the Southern Border, without tracking capabilities, that have resulted in the deaths of over 300 Mexicans (including a massacre of 16 teenagers) and one American citizen.   Further, his “foreign policy” (or lack thereof) has enabled groups that vocally promote the destruction of another country (Israel) and religious minorities (Jews and Christians) living among them. 

    Just because Obama is liberal doesn’t mean he’s a pacifist.  His career was born in the Chicago machine, a machine that has been notorious for its brutal and deadly corruption.  His mentor was a domestic terrorist (William Ayers) who unapologetically tried to kill his fellow citizens.  He himself is a socialist, a group that have notorious snuffed human life to their advantage (Che Guevera was personally responsible for over 1000 murders in Cuba…and he was proud of it). 

    His strategy in Afghanistan is rooted in death and destruction. He prefers blowing terrorists up rather that capturing them.  If you think he has stopped the waterboarding, you’d be mistaken…it serves his purpose.

  • Tracy

    60,567.122 + 57,744,506 = 118,311,628 votes total
    2,822,616 / 118,311,628 = 0.0238
    Therefore, Obama won because 2.38% more Americans voted for him than for Romney.
    2.38% does not equal “most” of anything.

  • Oconnord

    You are pro-life… which we can all agree on.

    The GOP campaign was anti-choice, which is different. Their campaign was that rich people rule the world, and give more power to rich people, because for some reason, rich people will make the world better.

    They were anti-choice.. or perhaps, anti options. They won”t try to stop unwanted pregnancies, as that allows them political capital. they line up to condemn a lack of morals. 

  • JI

    Actually the majority of the American DID NOT VOTE. 46% did not vote. 27% voted for Obama, and 25% voted for Romney. That is hardly a great show of confidence in the current American political system.

    The majority of the American people were right for thinking that neither candidate was really very good. It was a choice between two evils! If Obama social policies were deplorable, Romney would have been an aggressive Israeli puppet.

    You can’t blame the bishops for this result. They nailed their colours to the Romney mast well before the election. With the benefit of hindsight, I think that was a mistake.

  • GratefulCatholic

    As evil and odious as Obama and his policies are, he’s only a curtain-raiser for the Clintons’ comeback in 2016.  

  • ACatholicMom

    “Personally opposed to abortion” ???
    Where I’d you come up with that? Go to YouTube and search Obama and punished with a baby. He advocates for the killing of his grandchildren!

    Read anything by Jill Stanek a courageous nurse who held an aborted Down Sydrome baby boy until he died 45 minutes later because she could not bear to let him just die alone in the soiled linens closet that was a Chicago hospital’s policy. While an Illinois State Senator, Obama not only blocked legislation of the Infants Born Alive Protection Act, he was the only one to stand up and speak about what a burden it would be for the abortion doctor to have to call in another doctor if the baby survived and how terrible for the mother if the “baby, fetus, whatever you want to call IT” survived.

  • Jon Brownridge

     I think you could use a good course in basic arithmetic. Obviously most Americans voted for Obama, otherwise he would not have won the popular vote.

  • Jon Brownridge

     John – I agree with you on this. The bishops need to stay out of politics. In fact, Canon Law requires them to do so.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal


  • Sweetjae

    This girl is from a socialist regime, what can we expect but entitlements?

  • Jon Brownridge

     46% is NOT a majority. The majority of Americans (51%) DID vote.

  • Randomshit45

    Its a shame, that idiots like that say that they represent god, then by that conclusion, if that would be true, then god would be a bastard choosing bastards as you to represent him in earth, but following this step, if god (He got other things to care, like a hole universe, instead of arrogants atomic configurations as the human beeing) have choosed Obama to be again president of the United States, then sorry guys, but god have choosed his favourite hahaha

  • Stephen

    It is sad that Romney wimped out and refused to hold Obama’s feet to the fire on this.  Why Romney allowed Candy Crowley to shut him down on this point during the third debate is beyond me–he looked extremely weak!  What’s worse is that too many Americans didn’t/don’t want to know the truth about Benghazi and so many other vital issues (too numerous to count).  They would rather have sweet nothings whispered into their itching ears about Obama the “savior” and the secular utopia they believe he is creating.  It’s a very bitter pill to swallow:  Feeling helpless as my beloved USA has increasingly rebelled against God and is now starting to boldly reject our Creator in such an outright manner (i.e. Democrats seeking to remove God from their party platform etc.).  NOTE:  It’s tragic that Romney (who supports sodomite/lesbian marriage etc.) was the republicans “alternative” to Obama–O how the mighty have fallen.  I TREMBLE FOR MY COUNTRY WHEN I REFLECT THAT GOD IS JUST.

  • Stephen

    Bill, you bring up a point that most Catholics would rather die than admit–more than one Pope has appointed and actively supported Bishops that covered up sex abuse…even when the sex abuse and cover up is public knowledge.  The only response among Catholics is complete silence when this is brought up.  Same with those who point out that Priests refuse to speak frankly about purgatory, hell, abortion, contraception, sex outside the sacrament of marriage, sodomy, lesbianism, masturbation and the list goes on.  The only response when it’s pointed out is complete silence.  To acknowledge these problems would mean admitting that not only have a majority of Catholic laity fallen into heresy and even apostasy but a majority of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, and religious have too.  Moreover, many catholic clergy are not just failing to speak against sin but are aggressive advocates of sin (i.e. homo marriage, contraception etc.).  It’s impossible to fix a problem when Catholics refuse to admit the problem exists.

  • Pat

    Dear Dr William Oddie,
    If you had attacked Obama on his policies re abortion I would feel it was fair criticism. However, on the basis of Fox News reports (a notoriously right wing broadcaster) you criticise him concerning the death of their ambassador in Libya and of his  participating in a cover up. Fox News is not neutral, nor is it the voice of truth, even if you personally agree with it.
    What really alarms me is that you pass over the fact that the Romney/Ryan ticket was completely opposed to social jusice.  May I remind you that social justice is a key component in Catholic teaching?  Did you happen to see the recording of Romney addressing a chosen group about how 50% of Americans are parasites on the body politic? Didn’t that ring alarm bells?
    You made a grave mistake in your assessment of Jimmy Saville some weeks back which you later regretted.  Fair enough, that was an honest mistake on your part. This time round you are biased and viewing the world one-eyed, namely the right.

  • stephen

    Hey, Pat, putting the focus on FOX News is an obvious diversion from Obama’s failure and blatant cover up.  CBS just released the transcript from a September 12 interview “60 Minutes” did with President Obama in the wake of the terror attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  In the interview, Obama went out of his way ensure the attack wasn’t characterized as an act of terrorism which he later lied about during the second debate. CBS decided against airing this segment to assist Obama, their favored candidate, when he was vulnerable and waited to quietly post it on Nov 3. Transcript below.KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack?OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other. KROFT: It’s been described as a mob action, but there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades, that doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration.OBAMA: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened, I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But your right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is there are folks involved in this. Who were looking to target Americans from the start. So we’re gonna make sure that our first priority is to get our folks out safe, make sure our embassies are secured around the world and then we are going to go after those folks who carried this out.Also, your “social justice” propaganda only works on the naive–well informed, faithful catholics know better.  If you haven’t already, please do the research you’ll find that Obama  was no friend to the poor and vulnerable beyond his empty campaign rhetoric.

  • daclamat

    Oops. Your prejudice is showing. Catch up on Piraaeus. Obama is the cleanest presidenbt of the last two centuries, notwithstanding the very catholic Kennedy, who put it about a bit, and Eisenhower, whose dalliance with his driver nearly cost hgin the presidency, not to mention the immensely crooked Nixon, or the bent Hoover. Tunnel vision should never be dogmatic, Bill!

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