Libya and Lying

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Look who's outraged about lying.

Mark Steyn waxes outraged over the attack against the U.S. consulate in Bengazhi:

This goes far beyond the instinctive secretiveness to which even democratic governments are prone. The Obama administration created a wholly fictional story line, and devoted its full resources to maintaining it. I understand why Mitt Romney chose not to pursue this line of argument in the final debate. The voters who will determine this election are those who voted for Obama four years ago and this time round either switch to the other fellow or sit on their hands. In electoral terms, it’s probably prudent of Mitt not to rub their faces in their 2008 votes. Nevertheless, when the president and other prominent officials stand by as four Americans die and then abuse their sacrifice as contemptuously as this administration did, decency requires that they be voted out of office as an act of urgent political hygiene.

I've said from the beginning that the administration's conduct with respect to the attack on Benghazi has been condemnable. From the outset, the response was characterized by spin and evasion, mixed with incompetence and, as we are still learning, bad judgement.

Yet it's risible to hear Steyn and others pound the table over the Obama administration's lies while they were quite relaxed during the Bush administration's considerably more egregious untruths over the course of the Iraq war - a conflict that claimed not four, but thousands of American lives (to say nothing of the exaggerations and dubious reasoning that preceded the war). The Bush administration routinley lied about the conduct of the war - where internal reporting indicted a grave and growing insurgency, administration officials went before the public, including the president himself, and gave glowing reports.

Dan Senor, now a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, made this now famous observation to a reporter during the Iraq war: "Off the record, Paris is burning. On the record, peace and stability are returning to Iraq."

If it is a disqualifying offense to lie to Americans about the deaths of four personnel overseas, is it not orders of magnitude more disqualifying to lie about the deaths of hundreds?

Again, none of this excuses the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack. It's clear that a mixture of poor decision-making and unpreparedness lead to the deaths of four Americans and that the aftermath has been characterized by typical Washington backside covering, spin and evasion. This should always be egregious and intolerable and it's entirely appropriate to investigate, criticize and embarrass the administration. Indeed, it's desirable.

But Steyn, et al. have zero credibility and absolutely no objective interest in these issues outside of advancing the political fortunes of a particular party.

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