Victor Davis Hanson has several theories. I like this one.
Blaming the filmmaker offered liberals the chance to affirm that reactionaries and bigots are the source of much of the worldâ€™s troubles. Therefore, jailing Mr. Nakoula was loud validation of the Obama Administrationâ€™s progressive, multicultural bona fides, and proof that Obama has zero tolerance for such â€œhate speech.â€ That narrative became important for practical reasons as well: did the Administration really wish to defend itself from the charge that it had arrested and jailed Nakoula on a trumped up parole violation when his video had nothing to do with violence in Libya? Moreover, by blaming a filmmaker, the administration de facto conceded that some sort of unjustified provocation had occurred, as if reactionary â€œhate speechâ€ earns retribution that falls on the innocent.
Read the whole thing.
Jonah Goldberg tackles the same question.
There is an enormous amount of theorizing about what the â€œreal storyâ€ behind Benghazi really is. To me itâ€™s always been obvious. The White House was caught off guard â€” for reasons stemming both from ideology and incompetence â€” on September 11, 2012. As they have after virtually every other (jihadist) terrorist attack on Americans, they acted as if it had absolutely nothing to do with them. As with the Times Square bomber, the Fort Hood shooter, and other Islamist assaults, thereâ€™s always some other reason for the bloodshed, some attempt to claim, at least for a while, that this was an â€œisolated incidentâ€ with no broader implications for the War on Terror or Obamaâ€™s foreign policy. Admittedly, even this White House understood that spinning the Benghazi attack as an isolated incident wasnâ€™t going to work (such intense spinning could risk irreparable scrotal torsion). So they went with the story about the video. …
Of course, the White House and its defenders insist that they really believed the video was to blame. This strikes me as a lie, for the most part, if not initially than certainly over time. But even if thatâ€™s true, thatâ€™s no exoneration. As I said, there was a mix of incompetence and ideology at work. As an ideological matter, that this White House could convince itself for hours â€” never mind weeks â€” that this terror attack was all about the video is incredibly damning, if true. And, as I argue in my column today, the fact that the once-proud champions of civil liberties under George W. Bush were perfectly happy to throw the First Amendment under the bus is even more damning.
Given that the Benghazi attack came during the thick of the presidential election, itâ€™s no surprise that the White Houseâ€™s political and ideological instincts overpowered everything else. Itâ€™s no surprise, either, that the pressâ€™s instincts pointed in the same direction. Itâ€™s really non-surprises for as far as the eye can see.
Obviously there are still some unknowns worth knowing, and they might be surprising â€” like the exact details of how and why the response was so non-responsive. Just because the White House and State Department were unprepared shouldnâ€™t mean that the professional military was too. The exact nexus between the political screw-up and the militaryâ€™s failure to â€œrun to the sound of gunfireâ€ hasnâ€™t been established. Ditto, the question of â€œWhat the hell was Barack Obama even doing that night?â€