Over at Salon, Craig Unger is reporting this:
According to a highly reliable source, ... top Republican operatives are primed to unleash a new ... offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.Here's the thing: Most Americans aren't like Republicans -- they don't have a Pavlovian hate-response to the name Jimmy Carter, or to Jimmy Carter as a metaphor. And keep in mind that a 45-year-old today was 12 when the Iranian hostages were taken; everyone that age and younger probably has few if any clear memories of this moment in our history.
The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.
He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be "a bombshell" that would make Libya and Obama's foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. "My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence."
Now, I'm older than 45, and I do remember the Iranian hostage crisis. I remember that Nightline started as a nightly network-television report on the crisis. I remember developing a familiarity with the hostages and their families. Americans never did that regarding Ambassador Chris Stevens or the others who were killed in Benghazi. To be frank, most of America knows them as just four more Americans who've died overseas in the post-9/11 era.
Now, here's where what's usually an advantage for the right becomes a disadvantage. The right-wing rank-and-file is permanently engaged by politics; Fox News and talk radio are entertainment for a lot of right-wingers. That's good for Republicans a lot of the time; for instance, it helps boost their turnout in otherwise low-turnout midterm elections.
But in this case, it means Republican operatives may be anticipating a higher level of engagement in this story than actually exists. Average Republicans may be following this story in great detail, and may be able to parse it very finely, but I'm certain that most of the rest of America can't do the same.
The GOP operatives who are pursuing this "Jimmy Carter strategy" seem to be assuming a mass obsession with the Benghazi timeline, as well as a political insider's (or at least a maven's) familiarity with political and campaign narratives:
... former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ... criticiz[ed] Obama on the attack in Libya....Sorry, guys -- the public is not squinting over a calendar and counting the days during which this administration official or that one, or even the president, did or did not use the word "terrorism" in reference to the Benghazi attacks. Years from now, ordinary Americans won't be able to tell their grandchildren exactly where they were when the administration's story changed.
Giuliani [said] that the Obama White House wanted to dismiss the role played by al-Qaida because it seemed to diminish the triumph of having killed Osama bin Laden. "I think it's because they have this narrative that they defeated al-Qaida," he said. "They never say the words 'Islamic fundamentalist terrorism'. They want to wish it away. The president was moving on to Asia -- he was going to declare this a great victory for himself and unfortunately, this terrible act of terror intervened in their very convenient narrative."
[Said Paul] Ryan, "Why is he [Obama] not on the same page with his own administration officials who are saying that this is a terrorist attack? We'll leave it up to you to decide whether it's a coverup or not.”
In an apparently related development, early October 1, at 4:45 am, The Daily Beast posted an article [by neocon journalist Eli Lake] asking "why did it take eight days for the administration to acknowledge the 9/11 attacks in Benghazi were acts of terrorism?"
That makes most Americans different from the folks who turn on Fox at breakfast and leave it on till bedtime, with breaks for Rush's show.
GOP operatives, if your strategy depends on intense, angry engagement with this story, you're misjudging the general public.