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October 28, 2012

Column: Romney missed chance to hit Obama on Libya

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, the usual questions face voters: who will “fix” the economy (as if any president could really do that); how the nation’s leaders should handle divisive social issues; what the U.S. role in the modern world should be; and others.

But mainstream media editorial boards, ought to be asking themselves one overriding question: Are they covering President Barack Obama just as they would if George W. Bush was running for a second term?

If they are honest, they will have to admit that, especially regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the answer is no.

Here in blue, blue Massachusetts, the state’s dominant (and overtly liberal) newspaper has carried a number of stories about the, uh, “evolving narrative” on the attack of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. But, more often than not, those stories have been picked up from wire services and carried on inside pages.

If this had happened under Bush, it would not be a wire service afterthought. The paper’s best investigative reporters would be crawling all over it. The stories would be at the top of the front page.

Not that the media are entirely to blame for the issue essentially disappearing from the campaign. Republican Mitt Romney and his handlers were apparently hypnotized by the glare Obama used in the second debate while declaring how deeply offended he was that Romney would suggest that he or any member of his “team” had misled Americans regarding the attack.

Romney didn’t counterpunch, and declare that yes, the administration had indeed misled Americans, either through intentional deceit or gross incompetence. He blew it, first by being unfamiliar with exactly what the president said the day after the attack, and second by failing to point out that Obama’s use of the phrase “act(s) of terror” was the rhetorical equivalent of Slick Willie trying to parse the meaning of the word “is.”

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