Politics

10.19.12

And now, "Optimal" Is a Bad Word

So Obama says the word "optimal," or the words "not optimal," and somehow this is a talking point. You folks on the right do know, don't you, that Jon Stewart had used the word in the question to Obama last night:

Stewart:...I would say even you would admit at least it was not the optimal response to the American people as far as us all being on the same page.

Obama: Well, here's what I'll say. If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. And we're gonna fix it.

Big deal. Have you never repeated the adjective someone used when asking you a question? People do that all the time. This is really silly and dishonest grasping at straws.

This new Wall Street Journal piece on the timing of Susan Rice's statement is informative, and the right is giong to try to use it as ammo today, but really, there isn't anything in the piece that shows any remote hint of White House dissembling. If you read the piece and follow its timeline closely, in fact, quite the contrary:

1. Rice went on the Sunday shows on the 15th still blaming the video and saying it was a spontaneous protest.

2. Information began to come in to intelligence agencies the night before, and continued to come in that Sunday, precisely as she was taping the shows and for a little while after, indicating that that account might be wrong. So she didn't know.

3. Intel changed its assessment on Sept. 18, away from video protest to terror attack. But this is an important point: Whether premeditated or spontaneous terror attack was not then known and apparently is still not known.

4. Rice and many other top officials, the Journal reports, weren't even informed about the new assessment of the 18th until the 22nd. What??!! How could that happen? However it happened, that falls on DNI, not the White House or the NSA.

5. DNI acknowledged the new assessment publicly on the 28th, 10 days after it was made.

6. The administration started talking publicly about the new assessment in early October.

That's a little late, no question about it, and I would concede that the administration was probably trying not to admit it was terrorist attack. But of course, one big reason for this is that administration officials knew the unfortunate truth, which is that GOP would do anything to politicize these deaths.

As I've said every time I've written about this, we need to know what happened and people need to be held accountable. If Republicans were merely doing that, they'd be doing their jobs. For a frickin' change, I might add. But they're not merely doing that. They're doing exactly the sorts of things that, when Democrats said vaguely similar though generally less incendiary things about Dick Cheney and Rummy, they labeled unpatriotic and said were providing aid and comfort to our attackers. They really deserve for this to blow up in their faces.