The Corner

Frivolous after Benghazi, Focused after Sandy

President Barack Obama has scored points for his hiatus from the campaign trail to administer Washington’s response to Hurricane Sandy. People seemed to like it when Obama stopped talking about Big Bird and Bain and calling Governor Mitt Romney a “bullshitter” and instead actually did his job.

Obama would have served the nation and himself even better had he done his job after the deadly, al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Obama recently told Denver’s KUSA-TV: “Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.” Nonetheless, he did not step off the hustings, hunker down in the White House Situation Room, and determine who caused “what happened” — the murders of four Americans at two U.S. facilities in Benghazi — and how to destroy the assassins. It also was vital to learn whether America faced an isolated onslaught or a wave of assaults on U.S. positions and personnel. Voters would have applauded Obama’s efforts, and his job approval justifiably would have risen. But Obama did not do this. Even as Benghazi smoldered, and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods headed home in caskets, Obama jetted off to a campaign rally — in Las Vegas.

Shockingly, for two days after the Benghazi slaughter, Obama skipped his in-person Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) to discuss threats to U.S. national security. According to Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen’s analysis of the official White House schedule, not until Friday, September 14 — three days post-Benghazi — did Obama attend that day’s PDB. Obama also ditched his PDBs between Wednesday, September 5, and the killings on Tuesday, September 11. For almost a week before the attack, Obama failed to huddle with top security experts, ask questions, and offer feedback about risks confronting Americans — possibly even those in Benghazi. Indeed, the Government Accountability Institute calculates that Obama missed 56 percent of his PDBs between his inauguration and last May 31.

Team Obama claims that the president often reads his PDBs. Even if Obama mastered this material before the attack, it is unforgivable that he did not meet his PDB team immediately after these Americans were murdered.

Obama’s PDB was scheduled for Wednesday morning, September 12. However, he postponed it to console State Department employees at 10:50 a.m., as he should have. But rather than focus relentlessly on these life-and-death matters, Obama chased votes in Vegas.

Obama told supporters that afternoon: “We lost four Americans last night, who were killed when they were attacked at a diplomatic post in Libya. . . . And as Americans, we stand united — all of us — in gratitude for their service. . . .”

So far, so good.

But then later, Obama unleashed a divisive, class-warfare diatribe.

“I refuse to ask middle-class families like yours to pay more [in taxes] so that millionaires and billionaires can pay less,” Obama said. “I refuse to kick children out of Head Start programs or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled just so those with the most can pay less.”

The next morning, Thursday, September 13, Obama again blew off his PDB. Instead, Obama led yet another campaign rally, this time at Golden, Colo.’s Lions Park.

“I notice there’s kind of like a water slide in there,” Obama joked about one recreational amenity. After a few words about Benghazi, Obama then jumped headfirst into partisan vitriol.

“Tax cuts in good times. Tax cuts in bad times,” Obama said, mocking Republicans. “You want to learn a new language? Try a tax cut. Tax cut to lose a few extra pounds.”

Had Obama behaved after Benghazi as he did post-Sandy, Americans would have rallied proudly around our commander-in-chief. Obama’s poll numbers would have risen — and rightly so.

Instead, as the Doherty, Smith, Stevens, and Woods families grieved, radical Muslims ignited U.S. embassies, and Earth thirsted for leadership, a PDB-free Barack Obama laughed about water slides.

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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