The death of Jamal Khashoggi is something that quite rightly inspires outrage among those on both the left and the right.
However, if liberal outrage is mostly based on what President Donald Trump has said about it, there’s a good argument to be made that perhaps they’re angry about the wrong thing.
True, the president has thus far been somewhat inconsistent on the death of the Saudi dissident, and Trump’s too-candid answers on the arms deals we have with the kingdom probably won’t make it into any of the president’s 2020 campaign ads.
However, to think that these answers are materially different any than they would have been under the Obama administration — which provided all sorts of cover to the Saudis but couched its “concerns” over Riyadh’s human rights record in language so infected with mealy mouthedness it was virtually useless at the rhetorical level — is to rewrite history to a fantastic extent.
And, while nothing like Khashoggi’s death happened during the eight years Barack Obama occupied the White House, we can look at a similar situation involving a different country — namely, the 2012 Benghazi attack.
Kris “Tanto” Paronto was certainly looking at it. He’s the former Army Ranger who was providing security to the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, when our facilities were attacked by terrorist forces six years ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s a little bit peeved at the vehemence of the criticism against Trump during the Khashoggi situation.
Leftist journalists & liberalists screaming that the President isn’t doing enough to the Saudi’s because one of their own was killed.Where in the hell were you when @BarackObama left 30+ AMERICANS to die in Benghazi Libya including an Ambassador?!!You all are a disgrace .
— Kris Paronto (@KrisParonto) October 20, 2018
“Leftist journalists & liberalists screaming that the President isn’t doing enough to the Saudi’s because one of their own was killed,” Paronto tweeted.
“Where in the hell were you when @BarackObama left 30+ AMERICANS to die in Benghazi Libya including an Ambassador?!!You all are a disgrace.”
(Four Americans died in the actual attack: U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens; State Department employee Shaun Smith; and security contractors Tyrone Wood and Glen Doherty.)
Paronto certainly has room to speak about this, given how the media treated Benghazi as a throwaway and those who insisted the administration give answers for the disaster as conspiracy theorists.
Others on Twitter seemed to agree.
Trump said this week in Montana WE WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT Hillary did in BENGHAZI‼️💥🥊
— Sheila Zilinsky 🌐 (@weekndvigilante) October 20, 2018
Obama gets a free. “get out of jail card” he was and still is a fraud.
— Reverend Bob Levy (@TheRevBobLevy) October 20, 2018
Now, the situations aren’t necessarily equivalent, but I don’t necessarily know that works out to the advantage of the media or Obama administration. At least Trump isn’t blaming Khashoggi’s death on a poorly made YouTube video or screaming, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” at reporters over the journalist’s death.
It’s not like Trump had a chance to intervene and chose not to. None of these things happened.
Does that mean Trump is free from any censure over his handling of the Khashoggi affair? Of course not. Everyone on both sides of the aisle should hold the president accountable when he does something wrong, and in this case some moral congruity — not to mention a show of American diplomatic power — is decidedly called for.
However, everyone should hold the president accountable no matter who he is — and not just when it’s Donald Trump.
When it comes to the Obama administration’s shameful handling of the Benghazi attack, the media gave it a pass. The media has suddenly rediscovered the fact that we ought to be angry when innocent life is snuffed out by a terroristic or political entity and the president seems to give off mixed signals.
One can safely assume national reporters didn’t rediscover this anger because of any ethical concern, but instead their concern over who’s in the Oval Office.
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