President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, hit the Sunday talk show circuit yesterday to defend the administration’s Middle East policy in light of a week’s worth of spreading violence and the first murder of a U.S. ambassador since Jimmy Carter was president. In the course of defending Obama, Rice claimed: 1) that the security at the Benghazi consulate was adequate; 2) the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were not pre-planned; and 3) all of this violence is due solely to one 11-minute video on YouTube. All three of these positions are preposterous.

First, as the BBC reported this weekend, the Obama administration purposefully chose to provide substandard security at the Benghazi consulate. “US embassies and consulates in areas of the world where they are deemed liable to attack are usually offered a formal security contract called a Worldwide Protective Services Agreement … But sources have told the BBC that on the advice of a US diplomatic regional security officer, the mission in Benghazi was not given the full contract … Instead, the US consulate was guarded externally by a force of local Libyan militia, many of whom reportedly put down their weapons and fled once the mission came under concerted attack.”

Second, Libya President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf directly contradicted Rice on CBS’s , Face the Nation, telling Bob Schieffer, “It was planned, definitely. It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago. And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival.”

Finally, no one outside the White House believes a single video caused the violence. Liberal commentator and Tufts University international politics professor Dan Drezner has called Obama’s decision to blame the YouTube clip a “radically incomplete and dishonest answer.” As The New York Times Ross Douthat points out, the riots have far more to do with internal power politics.

The reality is that Obama has failed internationally for the same reason he has failed at home: arrogance. Obama has supreme confidence in the power of his own rhetoric and his own personal story. He believes he can bend history to his will. “I would like to think that with my election… you’re starting to see some restoration of America’s standing in the world,” Obama said in 2009. “John, I’ve got great confidence in my ability to sway the American people,” Obama told Speaker Boehner in 2011. But his failures, first in the debt limit debate and now in the Middle East, show that Obama is far less effective than he thinks he is. Domestically it has cost the United States our top-notch credit rating. Internationally it cost four Americans their lives. Will the Americans people hold Obama accountable?


From The Washington Examiner
Charlie Spiering: Saturday Night Live opener features the new Obama; Paul Ryan
Michael Barone: Why people riot (hint: it’s not the video)
Susan Ferrechio: Congress set to leave a pile of problems behind
Tim Carney: Sugar lobby funds group’s fight against corn syrup
Hayley Peterson: Ohio students open to someone new in White House
Brian Hughes: Florida students no longer excited about Obama

Campaign 2012
Romney: Politico reports that after the Clint Eastwood debacle, some inside the Romney campaign want to limit Stuart Stevens’ influence.
Obama: According to Reuters, Obama is working on being concise in his debate preparation sessions.

In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Balks at GM Plan: The Treasury Department is resisting a push by General Motors to sell the government’s entire stake in the auto maker. GM executives have grown increasingly frustrated with that ownership, and the stigma of being known as “Government Motors.”

The New York Times, Audacious Raid on NATO Base Shows Taliban’s Reach: An audacious Taliban attack on a heavily fortified base in southern Afghanistan did far more damage than initially reported, destroying or severely damaging eight attack jets in the most destructive single strike on Western materiel in the 11-year war, military officials said Sunday.

The New York Times, Earnings in United States Are Beginning to Feel a Pinch: The boom in American corporate profits, which has far outpaced the gains in the broader economy since the end of the last recession, is faltering.

The Los Angeles Times, Shell abandons plans to drill oil deposits in the offshore Arctic in 2012: Shell Alaska said Monday it has abandoned its efforts to drill into hydrocarbon deposits in the offshore Arctic after the latest in a series of glitches on the company’s troubled oil containment barge resulted in damage to the high-tech dome designed to contain oil in the event of an underwater spill.

The Los Angeles Times, ‘Deferred action’ program puts strain on L.A. Unified: Los Angeles Unified School District is being inundated with requests for documents by thousands of illegal immigrants seeking to apply for Obama’s ‘deferred action’ program.

The Chicago Tribune, Chicago teachers strike continues, Emanuel says he will sue to force end: What was thought to be a done deal unraveled Sunday as Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was unable to sell union delegates on ending the teachers strike, likely leaving more than 350,000 Chicago Public Schools students locked out of the classroom at least two more days.Mayor Rahm Emanuel late Sunday called the walkout “illegal” and pledged to seek an injunction in court to force an end to the strike.

Gallup, Majority in U.S. Still Say Government Doing Too Much: A majority of Americans (54%) continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer.

Righty Playbook
Today on Constitution Day, check out The Heritage Foundation’s Guide to the Constitution.
Hit and Run‘s Anthony Randazzo explains “How Quantitative Easing Helps the Rich and Soaks the Rest of Us.”
‘s Jonathan Tobin attacks Maureen Dowd for inventing “Romney’s War for the Jews.”

Lefty Playbook
The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein tries to invent a Romney “you didn’t build that” moment.
SEIU pollster PPP claims Obama is up 5 in Virginia.
In The New York Times, author David Firestone argues that Obama’s stimulus worked.