In Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 3 a.m. television ad in the 2008 primary campaign, we heard the sound of a ringing phone and saw sleeping children. In ominous tones, a narrator warned that “something is happening in the world” and asked, “Who do you want answering the phone?”

Well, it’s 2012, and — the phone is still ringing. Please, somebody answer the darn thing!

The story of the terror attack in Benghazi is that neither Clinton nor the president who made her secretary of state responded to the real emergency when it came. The biggest foreign-policy crisis of the last four years is revealing an astonishing lack of competence and character at the center of the Obama administration.

That’s not to say the Democratic duo did nothing in response to the worst terror attack on American civilians since 9/11. After eulogizing our dead ambassador and three others, Obama and Clinton got to work spinning a web of deceit that would make Richard Nixon blush.


They sent out a wave of aides to mislead and torture the truth. Even now, nearly three weeks later, they have yet to come clean.

In the process, they are demonstrating how to turn a disaster into a scandal.

The attack in Libya, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, killed one of our ambassadors for the first time since 1979. Christopher Stevens’ diary was recovered by CNN, and it shows he feared he was an al Qaeda target. Yet he had almost no security.

Because of their deception, you don’t have to be a cynic to ask what Obama and Clinton knew, and when they knew it. As Fox News has shown, intelligence officials concluded within 24 hours that the attack was carried out by Islamic terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda. Also, a terror group claimed credit for the attack.

But it wasn’t until this past Wednesday that Clinton hinted of an Al Qaeda link. Even then, she made only a single reference and was far from definitive.

The next day, Obama’s flack said he, too, thinks it was terrorism, though the president has not deigned to say so himself or explain what happened.

This is not an isolated example. When it comes to terrorism, this White House has a bad habit of starting with a lie.

In 2009, after the underwear bomber’s Christmas Day plot was stopped, Obama called him an “isolated extremist.” That wasn’t true — he was sent on the mission by an al Qaeda affiliate, a fact interrogators knew before Obama spoke.

In May 2010, when a Pakistani national tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano claimed it was a “one-off,” a tale that police knew was false.

Those deceptions were all part of a relentless public-relations campaign to make Obama look good. The death of a colleague does not deter their spin.

But it should wake up the rest of us. The lack of integrity about something so fundamental as a terror attack suggests there is no line this White House will not cross to protect Obama.

The choice to mislead the public dishonors the sacrifice of Stevens and those who died with him. But it does something else, too. It shows a willingness to put Obama’s reputation and re-election ahead of America’s national security.

That’s a real emergency.

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