Where Was Barry? Where Was Hillary?

As I wrote here, one of the striking features of the White House’s latest email production is the complete absence of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from the communications on the evening of September 11, 2012. Their names appear only later, when staffers write heartfelt statements about the deaths of four Americans to be released over their names.

So where were they on the fateful night of September 11? Tommy Vietor–formerly Obama’s van driver, now, apparently, a foreign policy spokesman–says that Obama wasn’t in the situation room. Where was he? Resting up for his big fundraising trip to Las Vegas the next day? And how about Hillary? As Paul wrote earlier this evening, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell testified today that the military should have tried to rescue the besieged Americans in Benghazi. Why didn’t they? They were waiting, he testified, for a request from the State Department that never came.

Did Obama and Clinton make a cynical decision to let the defenders of the State Department’s facility in Benghazi die, because sending in reinforcements risked a bloodier, more politically dangerous conflict? Did they freeze up, and fail to make any decision at all? Or were they never even in the loop, as the emails suggest?

After Ted Kennedy drowned Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick Island, the Kennedy family’s lawyers and other advisers held a conclave at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port to plot a survival strategy. It was reported that Teddy himself did not participate in the meeting. Instead, he was on the beach flying a kite: Teddy was considered too dumb to be of any use.

Are Barack and Hillary viewed the same way within the administration? Are they mere seat-warmers, considered too inept to be involved in serious decision-making? Are golfing and fundraising Obama’s only skills? Is Hillary useless in the clutch? If the Democrats think these questions are going away, they are mistaken. Obama doesn’t have to stand for election again, so maybe he can brazen it out. But if Hillary runs for president in 2016, the question everyone will want to know the answer to is: What did you do on the night of September 11, 2012?

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