David Axelrod was asked this morning on Fox News Sunday about the decision not to deploy military forces to Benghazi the evening of September 11. His response: “The president convened the top military officials that evening and told them to do whatever was necessary and they took the steps that they thought, they took every step they could take.”
Did the president in fact “convene the top military officials that evening?” I know of no evidence that he did. The president had a previously scheduled 5:00 p.m. meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, where they discussed what was happening in Benghazi, among other topics. But after this previously scheduled meeting, so far as we know, the president never “convened the top military officials” at any time that evening. Panetta's own account of his discussions at the Pentagon that evening with Gens. Dempsey and Ham offers no hint of presidential involvement.
It's of course possible there were presidentially convened meetings or videoconferences that we don't know about. If there were, the White House should let us know. But based on what we do know, it seems the president depended that evening on occasional updates from his own national security staffers--and it seems the president did not “convene the top military officials that evening” during the seven-hour crisis, David Axelrod to the contrary notwithstanding.
Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Dick Durbin of Illinois debated foreign policy on Fox News Sunday. Graham, a Republican, argued that the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a "national security breakdown."
"I am totally convinced this is going to go down in history as one of the most major breakdowns of national security in a very long time," Grahama said. "It's Exhibit A of a failed national security strategy." Watch the video below:
"Do you realize," CNN's Susan Roesgen asked a man at the April 15, 2009, tea party in Chicago, "that you're eligible for a $400 credit?" When the man refused to drop his "drop socialism" sign, she went on, "Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets fifty billion out of the stimulus?"
Roesgen is no longer with CNN, and CNN has only about half as many viewers as it did last year. But her questions are revealing. They help us understand that the issue on which our politics has become centered -- the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government -- is really not just about economics. It is really a battle about culture, a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence.
Obama to the Governors Ball: “One of the things I’ve always said about governors that Washington could learn from," Obama said, “is that it’s hard to be overly ideological as governor because the fact of the matter is, the rubber hits the road with you.”