You may have heard that Mitt Romney’s campaign is desperately trying to cover up a scandal concerning his intemperate comments during the attack on the US consulate in Bengazi last month, and that he’s trying to use the murder of Americans for political gain, and that the unraveling of the Romney campaign is evidence of his weak leadership in foreign affairs and national security. Oh, you thought the story was about President Obama? This is the propaganda technique of deflection: if you’re guilty of it, accuse the other side of it, and hammer away. The longer you do it, the less likely your mistakes will be noticed. What’s the truth about Bengazi? They got nuthin.
Every so often a story hovers over the news cycle for a week or two, until it either fades away or picks up traction. The past week, the Romney campaign and the Republican echo chamber have tried to stoke a meme suggesting that President Obama is deliberately misleading the American people about what happened in Bengazi, Libya last month when as-yet-unidentified people attacked the US consulate and murdered four Americans. This incident occurred on September 11, coincident with a protest in Cairo sparked by an anti-Islam video produced in the US that ignited protests throughout the world.
As evidence, the Romney campaign and its surrogates point to inconsistencies in the administration’s public statements as the event and the investigation has evolved and, as of this morning with Rudy Giuliani’s star turn on several morning shows, are using this language: the White house is “trying to cover up this scandal until after the election.”
This is—how would the veep say—malarky.
The more I read about the situation in Libya, the more I believe the Republican/Romney campaign charges are even more bogus than they seem. The complexities in Libya are so dense that they do not lend themselves to a live-stream Tweeted reportage, especially in a crisis such as the consulate attack. I’m not saying there weren’t mistakes. I am saying that to criticize the administration for reporting what they know as they know it is to misunderstand the downside of transparency. Would we prefer that the administration say nothing until the investigation is complete, or tell us what they’ve learned as they go along—knowing that early reports will be contradicted when hard facts are verified?
[I could go into the chronology and details about what happened in Bengazi, and the administration’s handling of it—and I may in a later post—but for now, that is not the big issue for those who want to understand the memes of the campaign. Also, to shift to an analysis of the Bengazi incident without calling out the deflection technique is accepting their frame, in Lakoff’s model. I refuse, and you should, too. Controlling the narrative is vital.]
Used to be, when the US was attacked, our elected officials and political leaders all pulled together (at least for a while). Romney violated this protocol in the most egregious of ways, making a political criticism of the president before it was learned that one of our diplomats was murdered. This brazenly craven behavior caused much distress in the Republican echo chamber, and was only the latest of many major misjudgments and gaffes Romney has committed in the realm of international relations. Something had to be done to staunch the campaign’s bleeding in this realm.
What we see in the “Bengazi cover-up” meme is their response. No doubt, Romney will find an opportunity in Tuesday night’s town hall debate to repeat it. Don’t be fooled. They got nuthin—and I’m not referring to the Bengazi charge. This campaign has nothing to run on—no vision, no policies, no record, no plans. They have nothing negative to charge the president with—the economy’s improving, the US stature in the world is improving, people like and admire the president. They got nuthin, so they have to fabricate sumthin.
So be on the alert for deflection techniques. Romney wants to distract us from his public demonstrations of ignorance when it comes to international relations, national security, and foreign affairs. He is attempting to use the murder of a US diplomat for political gain.
That’s the truth about Bengazi.