Ben Stein's Diary

Something Went Wrong Tonight

On Libya, a disastrously missed opportunity.

By 10.17.12

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Tuesday
I am in New York and I will be honest with you, my beloved Spectator people. Governor Romney was not strong tonight on foreign policy. Fine on jobs, the economy, regulation, guns. Super good on how women should get married before they have children, a point that Mr. Obama should have been making for years. (I wonder why he doesn't…)

But when he was asked a question about Pres. Obama's response to the murders by an al Qaeda affiliate in Benghazi, Mr. Romney completely got flustered by an outright lie by Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama falsely said that he had called the murders in Benghazi a terrorist act the day after September 11. Gov Romney was seemingly bewildered about what to say. Mr. Obama further told the outrageous untruth that in a democracy, the President should not be criticized over a defense/foreign policy disaster.

Let's look at the facts:

Mr. Obama gave a lengthy speech on September 12, after the murders in Libya, in which he first of all apologized to the Muslims for that infamous video. Then he talked about the terrorism of September 11, 2001, and his visits to some graves of some victims. It was in that context that he mentioned terrorist acts -- NOT in the context of the killings in Libya. Those, he was still blaming on an inflamed mob and that video. For Mr. Obama to take his own words out of context to excuse his inexcusable kowtow to the Islamists was disgraceful, deceptive, but frankly, not surprising. But for Gov. Romney to not catch him on it and whip him… that was a disappointment. Gov. Romney might have said, "Sir, you were covering up for the al Qaeda affiliates most of September and you are still covering up for your incompetence. It is insulting to the nation."

Even worse, as I keep saying, is Mr. Obama's anti-Constitutional pretention that no one is allowed to criticize him on foreign policy or else it's "playing politics."

To this, Mr. Romney should have said that it is the essence of a free people that the elected officials can and must be criticized for their mistakes. Otherwise, we do not have a democracy.

If this is how Mr. Obama misunderstands the First Amendment, he should not be in high office.

But Mr. Romney missed that moment, too.

Something went wrong tonight. Mr. Romney was not on the beam on Libya. But the dishonesty and shameless obfuscation of Mr. Obama were genuinely frightening. Look, Mrs. Clinton has already apologized, so we know something went badly wrong in Benghazi. Only Mr. Obama is still saying he didn't do anything wrong. Mr. Obama is smooth, but he is in a box now, and let's hope that Gov. Romney does not let him out next time.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.