09 November 2012

Obamaphobia, the second term: four more years of conspiracy theories begin early

Today's bombshell announcement of Gen. David Petraeus's resignation from the CIA, with an explanatory confession of an extramarital affair, has predictably provoked some of the sore losers in the country. While admissions of affairs are regarded as ruin for Republican politicians, some Republicans see Petraeus's confession as an inadequate explanation for his sudden retirement. Had the affair been revealed without his resigning immediately, however, many of the same people would have demanded his departure and blamed the President for keeping an irresponsible person in a sensitive post. Now, they seem to distrust the story of the affair. Some suspect that the President ordered Petraeus to resign so that the general would not have to testify before Congress about the terrorist attack in Benghazi and the death of the ambassador to Libya. Implicit here is a hardly-diminished faith that the Benghazi debacle is something that could and should destroy Obama, or at least a spiteful impulse to pay Democrats in general back for all their criticism of the previous President's unpreparedness for the 2001 terror attacks on American soil. The main idea behind today's conspiracymongering is that Obama kept Petraeus from resigning until after the election. He would do this, the critics believe, because 1. on the literal level Petraeus's confession of irresponsibility would have reflected poorly on Obama's choice of personnel; and 2. the nearness of Petraeus's resignation to his scheduled interrogation would have raised those supposedly damning questions about Benghazi in time to change some voters' minds. But everyone who cares about Benghazi has most likely made up his or her mind without needing to hear from Petraeus. Depending on your biases, the Libya episode either proves Obama incompetent (or malignly negligent) as a national-security president, or it has nothing whatsoever to do with your choice of a President. Petraeus's testimony is unlikely to have changed anyone's opinion, but the Obamaphobes are determined to keep the issue alive, perhaps because they think it has longshot potential to result in what they most likely hope for, an impeachment. I am satisfied that Obama has not used the Benghazi attack as a pretext for waging punitive war on Libya, and rather than blame him for lax intelligence in that country, I might credit him, despite his drone war against Islamists worldwide, with a relative lack of attacks on American diplomats in the Muslim world, compared to what we may have seen under a President McCain.  Don't take this as a whitewash: Obama is bad, but another Republican administration would almost certainly have been worse. So much for the credibility of his critics -- and that's even before we consider the conspiracymongers of today. I only wish we could do without considering them at all.

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