|Ask Packer QB Aaron Rodgers; it's a big deal when a ref blows a call.|
A postscript to this morning’s post about the Town Hall debate. The moderator, Candy Crowley, put her heavy finger on the scales last night in several instances. She regularly interrupted Governor Romney and preempted his attempts to follow up on Obama’s parries. For example, Romney used a question about gun control to transition to a statement about the Administration’s Fast and Furious scandal. Crowley stopped him as he was picking up steam on his indictment, stating that ‘this is a question about gun control, not Fast and Furious.’ Obama finished the evening with four minutes more speaking time than Romney.
Most significant, however, was Crowley’s real-time ‘fact checking’ Romney as he criticized Obama and the Administration’s false narrative about the murder on 9-11 of our Libyan Ambassador and three other American citizens. As we know, the Administration (Obama, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and numerous others) spun a yarn that the attack was the result of a spontaneous mob reaction to an obscure YouTube anti-Mohammed video which very few people even saw. They continued this façade for up to two weeks, long after they knew the assault was a sophisticated, coordinated attack by a resurgent Al Qaeda cell. That fact doesn’t coincide with the Administration’s reelection narrative that “Osama is dead and GM is alive.” The events also suggest that perhaps the Obama Administration chose the wrong side when it led from behind with arms and other support to Muslim extremist groups in the overthrow, and ultimate assassination, of Libyan President Mohammar Quadaffi. (These events are masterfully chronicled by Andrew McCarthy in this piece from National Review.) It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Ambassador Stevens was murdered with arms provided by our Administration earlier this year. No, it is much more convenient, and less harmful to Obama’s reelection prospects, to blame the attack and the murders of our Ambassador and three other American citizens on an obscure YouTube video.
As Romney picked up steam on this line of attack, Crowley interrupted Romney in mid-stream, correcting him on an obscure point that Obama referred to ‘acts of terror’ during his Rose Garden speech the day after the murders. Of course, up to two weeks after the attacks representatives of the Administration, including Press Secretary Jay Carney, Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, and Obama himself, made repeated references to the YouTube video and either expressly or impliedly suggested that this, and not a coordinated attack by a sophisticated terrorist cell, was the cause of the assault. (Our friend Hugh Hewitt masterfully outlines the Administration’s masquerade here.) Obama gloated when Crowley weighed in last night, instructing her to ‘repeat that one more time.’ Crowley of course dutifully complied.
A good referee should not make himself bigger than the game, and the best refs are not even noticed. The same should be said of a good moderator. But Crowley could not resist making herself part of the game, and in doing so corrupted the proceedings. She even got her fact check wrong. As noted previously, and as Hugh and other prominent conservative commentators have noted, this may be a case of Romney losing the battle yet winning the war. Crowley’s unprovoked and inappropriate participation ensured the Libya fiasco will be an ongoing national story not just through the next debate but right through Election Day. And this cannot be the story the Administration cares to revisit on a daily basis for the next three weeks.