As questions were raised, White House officials avoided drawing conclusions about the origins of the attacks. Even as the head of the National Counterterrorism Center testified that what happened at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, the president continued to resist labeling it as such. For whatever reason, the administration’s semantic gamesmanship contributed to what the president now dismisses as a sideshow.
Obama is early into his second term, but it has not gone as planned. His gun-control initiative was blocked. Prospects for a grand bargain on the budget are problematic. Immigration reform is moving forward slowly in the Senate and faces uncertainty in the House, although administration officials remain optimistic that Congress eventually will approve a bill.
On Monday night in New York, the president said, “I’m going to do everything I can over the next 31/2 years to continue to reach out to my Republican friends on the other side of the aisle. . . . I want to get some stuff done. I don’t have a lot of time.”