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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.

  • David M

    So other than your personal preferences and opinions and ‘Benghazigate’ you don’t seem to have many point indicating that Obama’s re-election is a tragedy? A weak article and one that is out of sync with the views of the majority of the World you try and speak for in this article.

  • Joesem

    it might be tragedy for Obama haters, but a huge victory for the US and the world. After eight years of Bush presidency, four years were not enough to resolve the mess he had created with economy and stupid wars and what not, and to wash away the shame Bush brought on the US around the world, so a second chance for Obama is a good thing.
    There is no reason to moan about the election system either. The margin of 2 million votes separating the candidates is substantial even by us standards (and by the way the margin in percentage terms among Catholics is even wider in favor of Obama compared the general population). The only time this system did not work was in 2000, when Bush became the president, although he was not elected by the people.

  • Blc77ster

    This is absolute rubbish stop trying to use garbage like this to distract people from the fact that Obama has done a good job of running the country under tough economic conditions. Romney is far to conservative to run a country such as the United States. Will the Catholic extremists please get off your high horses and realise that Jesus was a liberal, inclusive, revolutionary thinker, the opposite of the thinking of Mr Romney.

  • Father Shelton

    The great concern for faithful American Catholics will be the future of our charitable and educational institutions.  It now seems certain that the State, headed by President Obama, will force these institutions to fund the contraceptive and abortive practices of their employees.  Bishops will then have to decide whether these institutions can still be considered “Catholic”.  
    As for the Electoral College, the original idea was for the people to elect wise “electors”, who would, in turn, gather to choose a wise president, thereby combining the benefits of a non-political monarch together with the politics and responsibility of a prime minister.  But the EC never really functioned that way, even from its first usage.  It’s make-up is also designed to spread out the vote more equally among the individual states, giving greater weight to sparsely populated states than would be the case in a purely popular election.  Unlike the UK constitution, the US Constitution is very difficult to amend, so the EC is probably here to stay.  

  • Macca

     Well said Joesem and David M. I agree with what you have written and am very relieved that the American people have re elected Obama. He may not have achieved everything he set out to do but at least he has tried to improve the lot of the poor and disadvantaged in that country, something that his opponent would have undone. In the coming four years, when reelection will not be an issue, I expect Obama to continue to work to make America a fairer place for all its citizens.

  • AnthonyPatrick

     That depends on which ‘World’ (American/Asian, Muslim/Liberal, virtual/’real’, Aardman/Disney?) one imagines oneself to represent, I suppose… and which ‘majority’ for that matter.  As for being ‘out of sync’ with another person’s take on prevailing mediated ‘views’, one could be forgiven the observation that the freedom to take such a stance is pretty much prerequisite for any definition of what might be permitted as democratic discourse.  Unless these terms are intended to be understood merely as euphemisms, in which case I have mistaken your intention and can only apologise for wasting everyone’s time.

  • pooka

    Re the auto-bailout and Romney’s ‘Let Detroit go Bankrupt’ comment.

    Romney argued for managed backruptcy so that the industry could then seek private investment. The most he offered in state aid was loan guarantees. But of course, there was no private finance in the meltdown, guarantees or no. Detroit would have gone to the wall. Obama didn’t lie.

    William Oddie may well regard Obama’s reelection as a tragedy, for all the well rehearsed views of his camp within the Catholic church – a camp of which the American bishops have been vocal in their advocacy, mindful of which way the wind is blowing in Rome. And it would be legitimate to make that argument. But Detroit is nothing to do with that.

  • AnthonyPatrick

    Good points, Father Shelton.

  • Dfaithfulavenger2

    Who really is Obama that is the question. How can someone who noone really knows anything about become the so called man of peace? I think hes the Anti-Christ, but thats crazy to some!

  • cephas2

    Good article Mr Oddie. It is sad that so many Catholics chose to turn their backs on their bishops who were very vocal in trying to get people to vote with their faith.

  • nytor

    It’s a great shame, especially for the Church, and most especially because it seems that many Catholics disobeyed their bishops and voted for a fanatical pro-abortionist. The American Church is in a sorry state.

  • South Saxon

    I agree. As much as I deplore the Obama administration’s policies regarding abortion, I believe the world to be a safer place without Romney in the White House. Under Romney, a war against Iran would have been more than a possibility.

  • RuariJM

    Which fanatical pro-abortionist, nytor?

    The one who voted for late-term abortions or the one who made tens of millions of Dollars from investing in a company that specialised in the disposal of aborted foetuses – and then lied about it?

  • RuariJM

    I understand your concerns, Fr Shelton.

    Is there any chance that the Church in the USA could engage with the White House constructively this time, so that the general population will get decent and affordable healthcare, as the rest of the civilised world does? Maybe if it does the provision prohibiting State funds from being used to pay for abortions could be strengthened, along with a similar provision being introduced for the compulsory element of the required insurance program?

    Worth a shot – the determination to make Obama a one-term president and the steadfast defense of the poor, deprived insurance companies didn’t do too well delivering those goods, did they?

    (Fwiw – I didn’t think either party qualified for my support)

  • Jmitchrobey

    Macca, fair, you want fair. Who decides what is fair? Who decides what is fair tomorrow? 
    To kill an unborn child, is that fair to the child? American sheeple have elected obama, not Americans  Study history, the American system is the radical system, where people were judged on merit not birth right or status. NOW begins the down ward spiral for the Christian people in America. Romney could have not undone anything obama did except his executive orders. The dow is down 300 points this morning. Sound judgement to me.

  • daclamat

    The Tea Party zealots, homophobes and misogynists hijacked Romney’s campaign, says the Guardian. BXVI has had the good grace to congratulate Obama. 

  • Mike

    As an American, trust me when I tell you, the tragedy here is “what might have been”.  Romney is not perfect but I trust him much more than I do Obama.  He is a decent man and would have made a great leader for our country.  Obama is not trustworthy.  Obama’s term has been a series of public statements about reconcilliation and working with Congress but the reality is he has been detached and inflexible.  We are facing at least another two years like the last two which does not give me a lot of optimism.  As a Catholic, he has shown a disdain for the beliefs of the Church as illustrated in the contreception issue.  Regardless of what the majority of American’s, or Catholics in America for that matter, think about contreception, the president has single handedly mandated that the beliefs of the Church be ignored.  Today is a sad day in this country.

  • chasjay

    Cardinal Myrtle Burke and the ever-more-strident American bishops are all threats, condemnations and judgments beyond their place. If they fixate on Caesar to the exclusion of Jesus, they will not render to God what belongs to God.

  • Annie

    One of the commenters last night (can’t remember which one) pointed out a statistic that’s not being reported much:  among female voters, the married ones by 16 pts. went for Romney while the unmarried ones by 20 pts.  went for Obama.   The journalist pointed out that the issue the Democrats kept hammering away on the last few weeks was abortion (rather than on the economy – which is dismal – or the foreign policy – which is pretty non-existent).  That’s right:  abortion.  You may not know it because the press in your country doesn’t seem to monitor our ads but the “President Obama will ensure that you keep your right to choose/Romney will take away your right to choose” ads were all over the place and they were relentless.  

    Where was our Church in all of this?  The three homilies I heard at my parish Church since the HHS mandate was passed (which include forcing Catholics to pay for abortion and sterilization) framed it as either a “religious freedom” issue or a “pro-life” issue.  “Religious freedom” is a nice, vague term to a couple of generations of Americans who haven’t a clue what the priest is talking about.    “Pro-life” is another vague term that can mean anything from having a child to growing organic green beans in your back yard.  NEVER does the word “abortion” pass between the lips of the priest giving the sermon.  NEVER is the word “abortion” mentioned in the letters from my own archbishop that have been read at the Masses.  Other words you will never hear from the Diocesan Office:  contraception, sterilization,  same-sex marriage, in vitro fertilization, “living together”, euthanasia.  Oh, and NEVER does a priest explain natural law or the teachings of the Church to their poorly catechized laity.   The most you get is “marriage is between one man and one woman”.  Well, duh.  Of course it is.  But to the people in the pew that hear that phrase is too often the idea that “of course we support traditional marriage but we’re okay with gay marriage too for those who want it because it doesn’t affect us and anyway what’s the big deal?”.  HALF of the Catholics in the U.S. ensured Obama’s victory by voting for his pro-death policies and the responsibility for their malformed consciences lies at the doors of our bishops and priests. 

    Who lost this election?  The Catholic Church lost this election.   


  • Deodatus

    The Church needs to be very careful not to tie herself to a political coattails, for, to do so, is inevitably to espouse  agendas entirely contrary to the spirit of Christ’s Gospel. Certainly this so in the case of the strident backing of the Republican ticket by much of the American episcopate.  Much of the Republican agenda ranging from health care, disregard for the poor and marginalised, support for the gun lobby and rampant encouragement of the death penalty is entirely opposed to Gospel values.  A single issue (right to life for the unborn child – for which as a Catholic I would campaign with the utmost vigour) should not determine the Church’s political stance which must be  apolitical but involved without declaring for party. In this way the Church maintains her critical effectiveness and objectivity.

  • Ancanuck

    Agree 100% with the article theses. US is like Rome around 470 A.D.

  • Alan

    Words like “tragedy” are completely over the top.  Personally I would have found it hard to decide: Romney was more likely to appoint Supreme Court judges who might (possibly) have repealed Roe v. Wade, but Obama wins hands-down on issues like climate change (which could kill many millions), a less servile attitude towards Israel, and more support for immigrants.

  • Sweetjae

    You are dead wrong, Romney failed to win because he took for granted the minorities which could swing the vote for the Presidency, look at the statistics. Latinos and Asian christians are conservative by nature but when Rebublicans say for them to commit suicide by self-deportation, that’s the end of it.

  • Sweetjae

    Nope, Europe is, in 30 years time, you will be under the Crescent Moon.

  • Deodatus

    Thank you, Alan.  A more controlled and calmer response is needed in these circumstances than Oddie’s.  The Catholic Church in this context is becoming more mindlessly right wing and thus paradoxically impairing its critical effectiveness in handling vital concerns such as the right to life of the unborn child.  By hitching herself to the whole Republican agenda, the Church compromises the very Gospel she is called to preach.  Responses such as Oddie’s are themselves a tragedy.

  • Shirley Lemelle

    That what people thought about Reagan, a war monger. He settled the cold war without any weapon. With Obama, the middle east is a mess, and 4 of our heroes were killed in Benghazy

  • Parepidemos

    Mr Oddie, Let me be clear that I’m rather conservative. Having said this, Mitt Romney changes his mind so much that he would have made a disasterous president. Also, I laughed out loud when you cited the Obama-hating Fox ‘News’ as being a reliable source. Sorry, but even a great many of my Republican friends know that Fox ‘News’ is unbelievably biased and take anything it says about Obama with a huge pack of salt.

  • Parepidemos

    I totally agree.

  • JonathanBurdon

    How exactly is the Church hitching herself to the whole Republican agenda? What an absurd comment. If you’d read the Church’s social teaching, you’d understand how wrong you are.

  • JonathanBurdon

    Yet Obama himself has escalated the war in Afghanistan, waged war in Libya and enormously increased the number of drone attacks. If anything he’s worse than Bush.

  • Kevin

    Completely agree.

    To the Benghazi scandal I would add Fast and Furious, going to war without Congressional approval and thd dropping of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.

    I cannot fault the efforts of the decent half of America.

  • Liam Ronan

    “…many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach,and their glory is in their shame.” (Phillipians 3:18 – 20)
    Those who voted for pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, Obama have had their say, i.e. “the majority of the world”, as David M. touts. The greatest shame is that approximately 52% of Catholics voted for Obama.

  • Jcstubbs

    Here here Dr. Oddie.
    I was saddened to hear the election results from the US as Obama seems such a non-entity to me. What has he actually achieved? Guantanamo Bay is still functioning isn’t it? However, I reflected on what might be God’s will in this matter and I firstly thought that I hadn’t prayed much about it, and should’ve: and secondly that we have to put our trust in God, not in Princes. This result should bring us all to our knees, amen.

  • Sweetjae

    I agree,Mr. Oddie put to much emphasis on the Benghazi affair as if the affair was tantamount to winning the Presidency. Mr. Mark Shea’s blog has more substance on why conservatives failed miserably. The demographics has totally shifted from 10 years ago. Even Obama acknowledged he failed to win the white population but still won the Presidency, why? Minorities can not be taken for granted anymore.

  • Katie

    Please stop manipulating your BS by pulling out the typical: “well your views are unpopular.” Says who? YOU? Guess what, I agree with all the points he made. We have morons like you and MSNBC covering up a terrorist attack, getting our citizens killed and YOU harboring these same terrorists in Britain. People like you can never be trusted because you hate Americans and want to see us dead. Go to hell! And suck my dick.

  • Katie

    What is wrong with a War with Iran? You people all live in a fantasy world. Get over yourself. Nobody is pro-war, but sometimes it is neccessar and seeing that you are British and Catholic, we all know you align with Muslims and want to see Americans dead.

  • Katie

    Are you fucking serious? You don’t even live in my country and you are going to decide he has been helping the poor. I am still unemployed. 

  • Katie

    Do you really think we are unable to get affordable healthcare? With Obamacare, people are now forced to pay for health insurance they do not want, that isn’t free healthcare. Please stop believing the lies the Irish and British media tells you. And in the U.K. you have to go through all these crazy loopholes to get any operation approved because the government is deciding for you. In Canada, people have to wait 9 months for a fucking MRI Scan. I do not want British healthcare. I don’t want the United States to become a nation of snaggletooths because you have to get a root canal approved by the government. Fuck that shit.

  • Kasia

    I know. That is why I dislike Christianity. Too liberal. And I really dislike a limey telling me what is best for my country. Go shove your rubbish up your bum and get down from your pro-Muslim anti-Christian high horse.

  • Kasia

    OMG, wtf? You really want illegal Mexicans flooding our borders, taking over all of our government jobs and oppressing Polish, Russian and African immigrants? Because that is what Mexicans do. They are the new Irish. They gripe about their rights, act that they are the only people who matter and shit on the rights of other MAJOR immigrants groups who are ignored, suppressed and treated like slaves! Why the fuck you hate Israel, you another Muslim lover? Guess what, Bush brought in all your Mexican buddies, so I guess you are pro-Bush too. And fuck climate change, I am out of a job because of people like you, all these Euro trash crying about climate change and living in their little rich priviledged fantasy world. This is why I cannot stand Catholics.

  • Kasia

    I think its funny you all gripe about the poor yet I haven’t seen your types care or help me out at all. Disgusting hypocrisy.

  • Kasia

    Yes, because Spanierds are a separate race now. Lets deport all these Mexicans to their homeland of Spain, we’ll see how long they last over there.

  • Kasia

    I am sorry, but how is the right to own a gun against YOUR faith?

  • Kasia

    You are dead wrong. We also have a whole block of Eastern European immigrants who have been completely alienated by the Democratic party. They do not matter because they are white. My family gets completely ignored, derided and looked upon by the Democratic machine. And you REALLY think Obama is pro-immigrant? He has deported more illegal aliens than any president and it was Bush who brought them all in.

  • Kasia

    What is wrong with Guantanamo Bay?

  • Patrice

    But this is because you bought into the narrative of Pres. Obama’s negative campaign of scare tactics and lies. Romney is not Bush.

    Four years ago I was impressed with Obama’s campaign even despite the fact that I was disturbed by it’s messianic imagery. This time he knew that he couldn’t run on his record so his entire campaign was about demonizing Romney. He scared his way to victory.

    As an American who has endured the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, I am depressed at another 4 years of an egotistical leader with no respect for the extraordinary work of the Catholic Church in our country. 

  • Amy Mitchell

     Since most of the financial mess was caused by an overwhelmingly Democratic majority in the House and Senate which ignored and overuled President Bush’s attempt to keep the country from financial ruin, I am wondering what feeble excuse you will use for seeing how quickly the amateur in the White House makes it ten times worse.
    The only silver lining I can find in this cloud is that Obama will be exposed to the world .

  • Max’sKnight

    Why do so many Catholics not understand that once you buy the abortion lie, you’re a slave to all the other lies?  Iran is a blatantly evil aggressor.  Mitt Romney is not. 

    Face it people.  We have sacrificed our religious liberty, national security, the value of our currency, economic viability, the greatest medical treatment in the world, the very lives of other Catholics in the Middle East, our Catholic hospitals, schools and charities, our own income through increased taxes for EVERYONE, and quite possibly the entire nation of Israel.  

    We’ve sacrificed them all, and more, on the altar of abortions and contraceptives for everyone who wants them, and a government that plays Santa Clause.  (Or, should I say Father Christmas?) 

    In other words, we found this:

    to be more important than this:

    I hope the 50% of Catholics that supported this abomination in the White House are pleased with themselves.  God’s mercy will soon revert to His justice.  We’ve begun reaping the bitter fruits sown in the blood of millions of innocents.  I strongly recommend we start saying a daily rosary right now.

  • JabbaPapa

    Is that some kind of trick question ???

    Guantanamo is an extra-judiciary gulag where whomever the US Government wants can be isolated, tortured, and deprived of every salient feature of ordinary human dignity and liberty.

    The place is utterly abhorrent to every foundational principle of Western civilisation.

  • JabbaPapa