- - Sunday, September 16, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A full day after the U.S. ambassador to Libya was brutally killed by a Muslim mob, another mob attacked Mitt Romney. While armed only with pens and notebooks, the cabal meant to inflict the same outcome on the Republican’s presidential campaign.

Protecting and defending President Obama through his failures and blunders and gaffes is a full-time job for America’s mainstream press corps — and they’re getting worried. So, they attacked the GOP nominee for his reaction to the U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

Was that “appropriate”? “Mixed signal”? “Jumped the gun”? Seven of eight questions were on his statement. It was an another embarrassing day for the national media, and the slap-down was short-lived; within 48 hours, the Middle East and North Africa were in full-blown crisis, and details began to pour out about all the administration had done wrong leading up to the first killing of a U.S. ambassador since the one term of Jimmy Carter.

The U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, it turned out, was barely guarded; the mob easily breached security and swarmed in. Worse, a U.K. newspaper reported, “the U.S. State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and ‘lockdown.’”

In the days following the killing, the White House scrambled to pin blame on something or someone — anything but them. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the violence in Egypt and Libya was “in response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting,” referring to a YouTube video, “The Innocence of Muslims.”

Of course, the claim was preposterous. That Muslims would suddenly swarm U.S. embassies over a short film posted in July is absurd. Most likely to blame: the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, a top al Qaeda leader from Libya. In fact, the Washington Guardian reported Saturday that less than 24 hours before the Libya attack, “U.S. intelligence learned of a new 42-minute video in which al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri implored Libyans to rise up against Americans” and avenge the death of another al Qaeda member.

Within days, protests at U.S. embassies had spread to Britain, Jerusalem, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Sudan, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, India, Germany — even Australia. This wasn’t over some YouTube film.

Mr. Obama had claimed much credit for the so-called “sweep of democracy” during the Arab Spring, when mobs rose up to overthrow governments in North Africa, along with a new respect for America. In February, he said, “One of the proudest things of my three years in office is helping to restore a sense of respect for America around the world, a belief that we are not just defined by the size of our military.”

Now, in a puff of smoke, all that is gone. Egypt, taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, is violently targeting America. (When the president, in another foreign-policy blunder, said Egypt was neither ally nor enemy, none other than Mr. Carter corrected him, saying, “Egypt is a friend.”) Libya — of which, after the killing of Moammar Gaddafi by rebels, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton proudly boasted with a laugh “we came, we saw, he died” — appears lost to U.S.-hating extremists. And Muslims across the world are burning effigies of Mr. Obama — the Nobel Peace Prize winner with the “secret kill lists.”

Missing in all the Q&A from America’s top reporters was this simple fact: An American ambassador was killed — on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

By week’s end, no doubt at the order of the White House, the State Department clammed up completely. “We have an open FBI investigation on the death of these four Americans. We are not going to be in a position to talk at all about what the U.S. government may or may not be learning about how any of this happened — not who they were, not how it happened, not what happened to Ambassador [J. Christopher] Stevens, not any of it — until the Justice Department is ready to talk about the investigation … ,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. So stop asking.

Mr. Obama can make no claim of helping the U.S. economy during his four years in office: In fact, things are worse than they were. And now, the Arab Spring is turning into the Arab Winter — despite his pledge that “the day I’m inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently.”

Boy, he wasn’t kidding about that one.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com.