Obama’s chances of a second term are now under the worst threat since the presidential election started. He faces a triple whammy of attacks on his Administration’s handling of Iran and Israel, the fate of the Marine who shot Osama bin Laden, and the deadly attack in Libya which killed the US Ambassador.
Any one of these events is a threat big enough to derail the Obama campaign. Outside events can throw all election plans into limbo:
Candidates can refine their economic messages, poll-test key words about leadership, and allocate attack ad dollars with precision, but at the end of the day events are in the saddle and ride mankind.
The combination of all three is giving his Republican opponent a new lease of life after the lacklustre Republican Convention.
The Republicans will weave all three events into one single three-legged frame: Obama is weak on foreign policy, soft on America’s enemies just like Jimmy Carter was, and hard on America’s allies.
The First Leg:
Mitt Romney has already framed the Libyan attack in a way that is troublesome for Obama, and fits the three-legged stool attack. Romney has focused on the reaction of the Administration to the film which seems to have caused the attack:
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Mr. Romney said in a statement that went out just before 10:30 p.m. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
The Second Leg:
Obama is already riding a storm of protest over the apparent snub by the White House of a request that the President meet in October with the Israeli Prime Minister:
The prime minister also warned Mr Obama that his refusal to set Iran "red lines" meant that he had lost the moral right to place a "red light" in front of Israel by urging it to refrain from striking Tehran's nuclear facilities.
Tensions mounted further as it emerged that Mr Netanyahu would not meet the president during his visit to the United States at the end of this month when both men will attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The White House said the two leaders would not be in New York at the same time but was left embarrassed after officials in Jerusalem said that Mr Netanyahu's offer to travel to Washington had also been rebuffed. The White House denied the allegation.
|Body language: PM and President|
Obama has handled the Israeli PM very badly.
Between Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama, this Administration has given off signals that they don’t really take to heart the Israeli Prime Minister’s concerns about the steps being taken to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb being ineffective.
While the PM asks for a clear statement of just what will trigger an American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, the Administration has refused to consider drawing lines in the sand, at a time when every week seems to bring fresh information about Iranian steps to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
The Third Leg:
The third leg of the three-legged stool attack is the response of the Secretary of Defence to the book written by a Marine who shot Osama bin Laden:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider’s account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, “I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we’re not going to accept this kind of behavior.”
Panetta was referring to the newly published account of the U.S. SEAL raid that led to bin Laden’s killing in May 2011 in Pakistan. The book was written by a retired SEAL under the pseudonym of Mark 0wen. He was subsequently identified in media accounts as Matt Bissonnette.
These are strange words from an Administration officer some seven weeks before a presidential election.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that punishing a hero for such a transgression at this time, could be easily framed by the Republicans as an example of the Obama Administration being hard on the wrong things and soft on the wrong things.
The Role of Outsiders:
The reality right now is that the presidential election had been thrown into turmoil, with events by outsiders able to influence it in a way that nobody foresaw. The economy is Obama’s first Achilles Heel. Foreign policy is now a probable second Achilles Heel.
One more staged attack on Americans outside America could plunge the Obama campaign into a death spiral of denials.
How do you persuade voters that you are not a weak man and undeserving of being president when these things happen?
The spectre of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis is now hovering over the White House.