You can tell that Republicans are frustrated that they don’t enjoy their usual advantage on national security issues in this election. They’ve been churlish about President Obama’s success in decimating Al Qaeda’s leadership and they’ve glommed onto Mitt Romney’s false accusation that Obama “apologized for America.” And yet it hasn’t worked. Obama remains more trusted to keep the country safe, as his record warrants.
This week saw the roll-out of two bogus smears of Obama on national security. One—Romney’s untrue claim that the Obama administration apologized to Islamists for the documentary that inspired anti-American protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen—has been incisively tracked and debunked by The Nation’s George Zornick and Robert Dreyfuss. The other, however, is equally ludicrous.
Marc Thiessen, a former foreign policy speechwriter for President George W. Bush, devoted his most recent Washington Post column to claiming that Obama is asleep at the switch on national security because he often reads his presidential daily briefing instead of receiving it in person. Thiessen writes:
The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB)—the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times—or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent—falling to just over 38 percent….
When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security.
This quickly made the rounds of the conservative spin machine. Fox News hyped the story and had Thiessen on for a softball interview with Megyn Kelly. The Daily Caller got a quote from Dick Cheney: “If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.” Cheney did not provide a quote from Obama to substantiate his premise that Obama tries to claim sole credit for bin Laden’s execution. The Daily Caller did not provide such context either. That’s because there is none. But the Daily Caller did not mention that Cheney was lying about Obama.