President Obama sat down for an interview with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show on Thursday, which quickly became infamous through press pool reports, because during the interview Obama said of the deadly attack on our Benghazi consulate: “If four Americans get killed, it is not optimal.”
Here’s the full transcript of the exchange, courtesy of the Atlantic, so we can be assured that all of the “context” is included:
Stewart: “Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within. Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page.”
Obama : “Here’s what I’ll say. If four Americans get killed, it???s not optimal. We’re going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what’s broken and you fix it. Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency the one thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is that America???s security comes, and the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, security, and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency.”
Of course, Obama apologists scrambled madly to insist that their beloved President didn’t say what you just heard him say. Why, he only said “not optimal” because Stewart said it first! Oh, well, that makes it all right, then. Obama’s swooning fans used to claim he was the Smartest Man Ever to Occupy the Oval Office, and the Greatest Orator In History, but now they say he’s just a witless parrot who repeats whatever a comedian says to him. As with the hysterical defense of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech, it apparently requires squads of professional interpreters, filling whiteboards with elaborate sentence diagrams, to explain what the Great Orator really means.
In a way, it’s encouraging to see these people grow up a little, and cast aside their illusions about the former Unicorn Prince. It’s just too bad their maturity cost the rest of us so dearly.
The defense Obama fans are peddling would work a lot better if he had actually done what they want us to think he was doing: snarled angrily at Stewart for using such dry, bloodless bureaucracy-speak to describe a hideous outrage. “Not optimal?” What the hell are you talking about, Stewart? These people are DEAD! And I am going to make their killers pay!
But that’s not what Obama did, and the context makes it worse. He was, at best, mildly ironic when using the “not optimal” language, rather than angry. And the rest of his response was a bleat about how difficult it is to get Big Government to answer simple questions. Which is funny, because this is the guy who built the biggest, brokest Big Government in history, and thinks it’s still not big enough. His idea of “fixing it” means throwing our intelligence agencies under the bus to save his hide.
This is also the guy who described the dead of Benghazi as “bumps in the road.” He’s been lying through his teeth to the American people about what happened, for blatantly political reasons – he really wanted to hang on to that “I kicked al-Qaeda’s butt” narrative, and he didn’t want to discuss the shocking incompetence that left Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans astonishingly vulnerable in a terrorist-infested area with a history of violence, on the anniversary of 9/11.
Elsewhere in the same interview, Obama wistfully declared that he’d really love to close Guantanamo Bay, if he gets another four years. The Empty Chair strikes again! This is not a man with a history of steely resolve, who can infuse even the driest phrase with layers of menace.
Barack Obama has not purchased any benefit of the doubt with his behavior, and of course his defenders would award no such benefit to Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan for saying the deaths of four Americans were “not optimal,” probably not even if they’d leaped from their chairs to howl the words into Jon Stewart’s face.
Update: Pat Smith, the mother of slain Benghazi consular employee Sean Smith, is furious at Obama’s callous language: “My son is not very optimal – he is very dead. It was a disrespectful thing to say and I don’t think it’s right. How can you say somebody being killed is not very optimal? I don’t think the President has the right idea of the English language.”
She said all this to the UK Daily Mail. American media outlets don’t seem all that interested in relaying her opinion.