Where Biden went way too far - New York Daily News
Joe Biden blew a lot of hot air at the debate on Libya killings and Iran’s bomb.
The heat generated by Joe Biden at Thursday night’s vice presidential debate cooled into object lessons in the danger of bombast by a top United States government official.
Biden’s smirking theatricality while facing Republican Paul Ryan included exasperated putdowns and, at times, broad factual assertions whose grounding in truth was tenuous.
So it goes in skewering an opponent’s record.
Have a merry, if you like.
But the vice president went beyond the bounds where there is license to play fast and loose.
He did a disservice by extending his bluster into real-time issues of security and international relations.
First, there was Libya.
What happened leading up to the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, as well as the nature of the attack, are matters of compelling national interest.
Pressed by moderator Martha Raddatz that State Department personnel “wanted more security there,” Biden responded, “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.”
The effect of the vice president’s flat, forceful denial was to convey to millions of viewers that the Obama administration at large had not been informed of rising fears on the ground in Libya.
Such an impression was false.
Only the day before, a U.S. security official told Congress that he had argued for additional protection for weeks. More, a State Department aide admitted she had turned down requests for stepping up safety with the intent of training Libyans to do the job.
Biden’s speed-talking lack of precision left the White House on Friday to explain that when Biden used the word “we,” he “was speaking directly for himself and the President.”
The episode added to the Obama administration’s markedly evolving accounts of the deadly Sept. 11 assault.
Those began with strong indications that the attack was a spontaneous response to the infamous video about the Prophet Muhammed.
Most notoriously, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice drummed home the message on television news programs, while secondarily noting that investigations were under way.
Washington now believes Al Qaeda-linked terrorists killed Stevens in a planned, military-style raid. There weren’t even protesters outside the consulate.
It took days for administration officials to freshen its assessment, sparking charges that the White House had soft-pedaled on terrorism to blunt political blowback.
At the debate, Biden insisted that Rice delivered the initial account “because that’s exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that.”
Even allowing for faulty intelligence, Rice’s words were ill-chosen for being premature under obviously cloudy circumstances.
Biden then compounded the felony by zapping and zinging without proper thought.
No issue on the presidential agenda demands more careful handling than Iran’s drive toward gaining nuclear weapons capability. This was not the approach taken by Biden in Thursday’s debate.