The President Won — Sort Of
The administration spent the last six months of the campaign in cover-up mode.


Victor Davis Hanson

These efforts to squelch any mention of the monitoring of journalists worked as well. Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.

On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related?

We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack.

Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. The truth was clear: Libya was not quiet, nor was al-Qaeda leaderless.

Instead, blaming the violence on a petty crook and supposed “Islamophobe” squared the circle: A right-wing bigot had caused the problem; he could be summarily jailed; and the president could both be absolved from blame for the unexpected violence and praised for his multicultural bona fides in condemning such a hateful voice on our soil. Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.

In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country.

Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals is just out from Bloomsbury Books.