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American Dream Betrayed

Fact-Checking Rahm: How He Faced The Nation And Lied Through His Teeth

Interjecting myself between Rahm Emanuel and Bob Schieffer on Sunday's episode of Face The Nation.

RAHM: First of all, the president immediately ordered an investigation into what happened in Benghazi.

RHODES: As any president would. But he won't immediately release the results.

RAHM: Second, he wants to find out who's responsible.

RHODES: As would any president.

RAHM: And third, he will bring them to justice, just like he brought Bin Laden and al Awlaki in Yemen.

RHODES: Meaning he'll take out any 16-year-old unfortunate enough to have chosen the wrong father as well?

RAHM: And he has been consistent about that. And he did refer to it the event as a terrorist act. And when Mitt Romney said he didn't. So that's number one.

RHODES: Not.

*

RAHM: And the events there are a human tragedy. It's an assault on America.

RHODES: Then we are at war?

A clear-eyed review of the coverage and official statements clearly show that the Obama administration went to greath lengths to portray the Benghazi assault as one of spontaneous mob reaction to a crappy anti-Muslim video. Why? Because a planned attack by Libyans upon a U.S. embassy consulate in which the ambassador is killed is a Tet moment; it demonstrates an organized opposition capable of such attacks that belie the rosy story we've been told about the president's brave intervention there. A spontaneous mob action spurred by a video, on the other hand, posits an ambassador's death as an "accident" in the chaos of irrational extremists, even if aided by "opportunists."

This is why this is important. We were misled - and not just to preserve the president's policy options (for example, not having to declare war on Libya or send troops or take retribution militarily, explicitly anyway, i.e., special forces are probably operating, but so the administration doesn't have to respond immediately and publicly)- but also on behalf of the president's political imperatives, particularly this close to an election.

While Republicans have failed to articulate this dynamic, instead just repeating the apparent sin of not immediately labeling the attack as a terrorist act, i.e., in order to paint the president as a weak failure who does not stand up for America, the Benghazi critique remains essentially just as valid from a progressive perspective. But that perspective, one that takes great issue with the civil rights disaster this president has been as well as the his radically right-wing foreign policy approach that has gone further than Dick Cheney ever would have dreamed, including kill lists and civilian drone bombing campaigns, is missing from the media discourse.

*

RAHM: And as commander-in-chief, he took control and he said exactly what needs to be done.

RHODES: Citation, please.

*

RAHM: None of us are privy to the information. I'm not. I'm the mayor of the city of Chicago. But if the commander-in-chief says I want to get to the bottom of it, I want an investigation, get the report, find out who is accountable, who is responsible for this act, and we will bring them to justice, just like he did when he brought justice to Osama bin Laden and just like he did to the al Qaeda leadership that is decimated in the Afghanistan area and Pakistan area and just like he did to Awlaki that was hiding in Yemen who tried to bring two terrorist attacking to the United States.

RHODES: Ever notice that Rahm speaks in sentence fragments that quite often never get to their object?

RAHM: That is what a commander-in-chief does.

RHODES: Demand justice. And Barack Obama's really good at it!

*

SCHIEFFER: Now you weren't there, obviously you don't have access to this information, but you were White House chief of staff. How is it that . . .

EMANUEL: Rumor has it.

RHODES: Ever notice that Rahm can't help making smart-ass remarks to reporters that aren't funny in the slightest and instead are of the kind that the most hated kid in elementary school always made?

SCHIEFFER: So many of - versions of events could come out of this thing? I mean, you know, yes, yes, he - yes, he said in the Rose Garden, he referred to a terrorist attack. But five days later, Susan Rice was right here on this broadcast and on other Sunday broadcasts saying that no, it wasn't. And I mean, how is that that could happen? That was just - go ahead.

RAHM: Bob, first of all, no, Bob, you have an event, a changing event. You don't have people on the ground with that information.

RHODES: You don't?

RAHM: The intelligence community, many different apparatus from military intelligence, national security intelligence, CIA, is assembling that information to give you the best pictures. And events change. And when Susan went out there, she was working off the intelligence provided that the point.

RHODES: So she was wrong?

*

RAHM: Let me go to a point about what [John McCain] just said. You have Benghazi, information changes while asking for real-time information. You're getting that changed all the time while the intelligence community assesses what happened in giving that report.

RHODES: Except when a Republican is president. Then we call it a cover-up.

*

RAHM: The senator just made a point about foreign policy. Let's go through this.

RHODES: Let's not and say we did.

RAHM: On Iran, when we - when the president came into office, America was isolated from the world and people were questioning our judgments. Three years later, the tables have been turned . . .

RHODES: On Obama.

RAHM: . . . and Iran is now isolated from the rest of the world and you have crippling sanctions. That is not a failure, that is a success of America's leadership.

RHODES: Crippling leadership.

RAHM: Second, because we have been at war for a decade, two wars, one the longest in American history, the president committed to bring Iraq to an end, and now our word is committed and people know it, and seen what we have done.

RHODES: On Bush's timetable - but he wanted troops to stay longer.

RAHM: Second . . .

RHODES: Didn't we already have a second?

RAHM: . . . he had a surge in Afghanistan . . .

RHODES: Which was a failure.

RAHM: . . . and now we're withdrawing, all with the purpose of coming home and building America.

RHODES: With that phantom peace dividend.

*

RAHM: And the best foreign policy you can have is a strong America at home. And he's made sure that we invest here in America and make sure we invest in our roads, our bridges, and our highways, and our schools and our broadband, our infrastructure and our educational system. That's the strongest part of our foreign policy.

RHODES: Investing through tax cuts so small to individuals that few noticed.

*

RAHM: Third, he's reoriented America towards the Pacific and making sure that we are there as a credible ally to our allies there as China is emerging.

RHODES: First, as China "emerges," kind of like how the Loch Ness monster emerges, perhaps our focus should be there. Second, not so much.

*

RAHM: At every level America's foreign policy abroad in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East is respected because they have seen this president take decisive leadership, take positions that he has executed from Iran to the protection of Israel, to changing the war in Iraq and American's foreign policy to rebuilding us at home, reorienting America's resources to the threat coming, our the challenge coming from China. That is a foreign policy that has made America continue to be the leader of the free world and with its values.

And I would actually disagree with what the senator said. And if you look across the waterfront, America's leadership has never been stronger.

RHODES: Again, not so much.

SCHIEFFER: Alright.

RHODES: Which is shorthand for "I have now allowed you to filibuster with so much bullshit I am at a loss to challenge a single thing you've said."

*

SCHIEFFER: Why do you think this race is so close right now?

RAHM: First of all, because there's a lot at stake.

RHODES: First, why does that explain a close race? How does that make sense in any way? Second, if the president has done such a good job in his first term after inheriting such a mess, isn't there less at stake than there was four years ago? Third, can you name a presidential election in which there wasn't a lot at stake? Fourth, if Mitt Romney is the worst presidential nominee in history, as you and your party have been saying, what does it say about an incumbent president who came into office with perhaps an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm that the race is so close with so much at stake?

RAHM: We have still a lot of work, as the president said, to come home and build America.

RHODES: We've already covered that.

*

RAHM: We just ended a decade, two major events. We have the longest war in American history where we have drained our resources. And for the first decade in American history, during the Bush presidency, American middle class saw their household income decline.

RHODES: And then it just got way worse under Obama.

*

RAHM: And that is a rupture in the American fabric. And the president said, to be strong at home, to be strong abroad, you must have an economic strategy built on the middle class.

RHODES: Which Joe Biden says has been buried under this president.

*

RAHM: They have weathered not only a lost decade; they weathered the worst recession in American history. And, step by step, right here where I am in Ohio, he took the most courageous act also, to rebuild the auto industry.

RHODES: Well, it did take a lot of balls.

*

RAHM: I just left Toledo, where they are adding a third shift to the Jeep factory there. And if it was up to Mitt Romney, he would have let it all go bankrupt.

RHODES: Unlike Obama, who . . . let it all go bankrupt.

*

RAHM: Because of the president's decision, against conventional wisdom out of Washington and New York . . .

RHODES: Not really; only if he could have done it in a better way.

RAHM: . . . those auto jobs are being added and America is now adding auto jobs. That's the strengthening not only of those jobs, those communities like Toledo.

RHODES: Not so much.

*

RAHM: I'm here in Akron today, and you can see Ohio. Just take this fact. When the president came into office, the unemployment level in Ohio was north of 10 percent. Today it's at 7 percent, a three full-point drop.

Why? Because of the decision about putting the auto industry and the auto communities first, not letting it go bankrupt like Mitt Romney.

RHODES: But by letting it go bankrupt like Barack Obama, which Romney opposed.

SCHIEFFER: We have - we have . . .

RHODES: "I feel asleep there, what?"

*

RAHM: We're nowhere close - we're nowhere close where we need to be, and the president says to get - to build America at home, invest in our schools, invest in our people, invest in our roads, our bridges and our railway and our airports. And that's how you make an America that has a 21st Century economy, running on a 21st Century foundation.

RHODES: Still waiting to see the plan for all that investing.

SCHIEFFER: We have 20 seconds left.

RHODES: "And I haven't gotten in a word edge-wise!"

SCHIEFFER: What happened to the women's vote? The president way ahead there. Now that seems to be closing. Are you going to be able to get that back?

RAHM: Yeah, look, the early - I'm here in Ohio. I just checked the early vote. The president is up almost two to one over Mitt Romney. And that's an indication that the field operation, the communication strategy, and the message of a resurgence of a strengthening middle class is essential, and also the choice that women have to face on a host of issues from economic to health care issues that I think the president's message is right for them.

RHODES: Great. Now answer the question.

RAHM: And if you look at the early votes in Iowa, Ohio, Florida, the president's campaign is actually - an investment they have made in a "get out the vote" effort identifying their voters is starting to pay off because they're beating all their numbers from '08.

RHODES: Great. Now answer the question.

SCHIEFFER: Alright. We have to stop you there. The clock ran out. Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor.

RHODES: "Thank you for running out the clock. We're happy to provide you with an uninterrupted platform to say whatever the hell you want without any interference with us. In fact, from now on I won't even bother showing up."

-

Comments welcome.



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Posted on October 29, 2012


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