Obama’s Credibility is Severely Degraded by Battleships and Benghazi

Mr. Obama’s condescending comments in the debate last Monday evoked embarrassment for him as his stature seemed to diminish right in front of my eyes. As if this much younger man with virtually no leadership experience 44 months ago feels so elevated as to lecture a proven, seasoned leader such as Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama’s hubris knows no bounds. The nature of narcissism is such that humility is rarely felt by a man that places high value in the power he thinks he possesses.

The WSJ editorial board published a short column titled, A Game of Battleship? Mr. Obama’s supreme confidence in slamming Governor Romney on the size of the Navy serves to only compound a growing sense among Americans that Obama’s credibility is eroding.

And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities.

That was President Obama at Monday night’s debate, rebuking Mitt Romney for noting that the U.S.Navy is the smallest it’s been in nearly a century and may soon get smaller. It would be nice to think the President has been up late reading Alfred Thayer Mahan. To judge by the rest of his remarks on the subject, he hasn’t.

F/A-18C Hornet on Aircraft Carrer Deck (photo source: www.Navy.com)

We mean Mr. Obama’s well-rehearsed jibe that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets” than we did during World War I. This was followed by the observation that “we have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Yes, Mr. President. And we have fewer of all of those things, too.

Many historians believe that President Reagan defeated the mighty Soviet empire economically; that by building a strong national defense, the Soviet Union was constantly keeping up until it effectively went broke.

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the Navy counted 529 ships in the fleet, including 15 aircraft carriers and 121 nuclear submarines. In 2001 the Navy was down to 316 ships, with 12 carriers and 73 subs. In 2011 the numbers were 285, 11 and 71, respectively. On current trajectory, Mr. Romney said, “we’re headed down to the low 200s,” a figure Mr. Obama did not dispute.

The USS Wilbur, a guided missile destroyer with Mt. Fuji in background (photo source; www.Navy.com)

The President is right that the ships the U.S. puts to sea today are, for the most part, much more capable than they were 20 or 30 years ago. But that’s true only up to a point. Aegis cruisers and destroyers responsible for defending their immediate battle space are now taking on the additional role of providing ballistic missile defense. The tasks multiply, but the ships aren’t getting any additional missile tubes.
Concerns about ship numbers may seem passé. They also seemed passé to many in the late 19th century, which is exactly why Mahan wrote “The Influence of Sea Power Upon History.” If we’ve again become cavalier about maintaining the freedom of the seas, it’s because a powerful U.S. Navy has accustomed us to indifference. Weaken the Navy further, and that’s a luxury we’ll lose.

Ultimately, it is the credibility of the POTUS that allows him to retain authority through reelection. One definition of credibility is “worthy of trust.” The complete erosion of trust was so complete with Presidents Johnson and Carter they lost a second chance to serve (President George H.W. Bush lost mainly because his vote was bifurcated with Ross Perot). It has become most apparent to me and many other Americans that President Obama is no longer worthy of our trust. Daniel Henninger’s weekly column in the WSJ is excellent on this subject: Suddenly, a Credibility Gap:

There have been only two events that could be said to have caused significant movement by voters in the campaign. One was the Oct. 3 Denver debate in which Mitt Romney disinterred political skills that stunned the incumbent and woke up a sleeping electorate. Race on.

The other is Benghazi. The damage done to the Obama campaign by the Sept. 11 death in Benghazi of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American colleagues has been more gradual than the sensation of the Denver debate, but its effect may have been deeper.

The incumbent president has a credibility gap.

The phenomenon of a credibility gap dates to the Vietnam War and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. The charge then was that LBJ wasn’t leveling with the American people or Congress about Vietnam. The credibility gap was hardly the only thing that caused LBJ to withdraw from the 1968 election, but it eroded support for his presidency.

Vehicle inside the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11 (photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

Credibility gaps can be unfair things. They generally involve difficult foreign affairs in which presidents possess information and realities never revealed to the general public, presumably for its own good. That may be what this White House believes about Benghazi. But it is also true that only this White House knows why it allowed the Benghazi disaster to drip though the news from September into October, with no credible account of the attack, even as reporters for newspapers such as this one got the story out.

In time it was no surprise that people began to ask: Was the White House hiding something about an event of enormous gravity to protect the president’s candidacy? For much of the American electorate, that would be cause to start marking down a presidency.
Even by the standards of our celebrified culture, Barack Obama’s personalization of the American presidency has been outsized. He and his political team sought this aura. Hillary and the rest of the cabinet receded, while he rose. In Monday’s debate, Mr. Obama stumbled into a summation of his status: “This nation, me, my administration.” L’etat, c’est me.

Until now, it worked. Despite an awful economy, the president’s likability numbers held firm. Many wanted to believe in this larger-than-life president. His clumsy handling of Benghazi, however, has opened a gap in the president’s credibility…
It may be that voters think both candidates have stretched the truth, but credibility is the coin of a presidency. The political cost of devaluing that coin is higher for an incumbent seeking a second term and higher still for this one. Two weeks from Election Day, Barack Obama has been shown in Benghazi to be a president with feet of clay. It may well take him down.

Contrast Mr. Obama’s loss of trust or credibility with the following statement made by Governor Romney in Colorado this week when he walked out to speak at a much larger audience than he had expected; as reported in The Ulsterman Report:

“Lord, if this is your will, please help to make me worthy. Please give me the strength Lord.”

American Values: “In God We Trust” — “Liberty” — “E Pluribus Unum”

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About Victor Lundquist:

Victor is a businessman working in the healthcare industry. He and his wife of 33 years have five children and four grandchildren. Vic has been blogging for Mitt Romney since 2007.
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13 Responses to Obama’s Credibility is Severely Degraded by Battleships and Benghazi

  1. Doug Stevens says:

    Very well put Mr. Lundquist. We have seen the President’s disregard for truth reach a crescendo in the events you have described. It is time for the nation to see his lack of credibility and send him packing. Thank your for your research and call to action.

  2. Zbigniew Mazurak says:

    Excellent blogpost. I’d like to add that as a defense analyst, I have written about Navy issues extensively, including on the issue of Gov. Romney’s proposals for a naval buildup. I have assessed these proposals in an impartial manner here:

    And I have explained, in detail, why the Navy needs many more ships than it has now and why Governor Romney’s critics are dead wrong here:

    I’d also add that Ronald Reagan, while running in 1980, faced similar criticism after he proposed a 600-ship Navy. But his critics were dead wrong then, and Gov. Romney’s critics are dead wrong now.

  3. Renee says:

    Thanks for the info and keeping us up to date with your research and reporting.

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Vic. I find it interesting that Obama invoked bayonets and horses to explain why we’re reducing the size of our navy, while, even ignoring the fact both bayonets and horses are still in use, ships are not going out of style at all. In fact his new “focus” is the Pacific region, where something like 90% of the area is blue water ocean, where Navy presence and number of ships is critical. I find it hard to believe anyone in a Navy town was pleased at the comparison of ships with bayonets and horses. I read one article (wish I could remember where) saying Obama’s snarky statement shows he’s really the one that should study up on what the needs of the modern military are…and don’t get me started on Libya…

  5. Cathy says:

    Excellent post Victor, as all of the posts on this site. I learn so much and look forward everyday to reading and commenting.

    People are forgetting that a strong military presence all around the world is a DETERRENT to war…and low military presence is an INVITATION to war.

  6. Zbigniew Mazurak says:

    Ship capability is NO substitute for ship numbers. A single ship, no matter how capable, can be in only one place at any given time. For example, a single submarine cannot simoultaneously be hunting Chinese subs in the Pacific, doing the same work in the Gulf, and patrolling the Eastern Med and the Carribean. To do all of these missions, you need multiple subs. Moreover, relying on a small number of platforms of any kind (be it ships, submarines, planes, or ground vehicles) leads to these platforms being overused and their service lives burning up much faster than would otherwise be the case.

    Mitt Romney is right: the US Navy IS too small, as is the US Air Force. The Navy is currently able to meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their needs for subs. The Pacific Command alone has said for many years that it needs at least 16-18 subs, but the Navy can supply only 10 at any given time. Several months ago, CENTCOM, for its part, requested a third carrier group to deter Iran, but it was rebuffed… because all other available carriers were already committed elsewhere. There were simply too few flattops to meet CENTCOM’s request.

    Yet, under Obama’s plans, the Navy’s carrier fleet will decline to 10 this December and will lack an 11th carrier until 2015, and its submarine, cruiser, and destroyer fleets will decline precipitously during the next 2 decades, according to CRS’s Ronald O’Rourke. Obama plans to “build up” the Navy’s overall size… to just 301 ships, and many of these will be small, pathetic “Littoral Combat Ships” that can’t defend themselves offer almost no offensive capability.

  7. Annette S says:

    Thank you Vic for doing this article. This so called zinger that Obama unfortunately scored points on in the last debate has not been countered adequately. Although Romney did state that Obama’s own secretary of defense said that cuts would be devastating later in the debate. Unfortunately, all anyone remembers is the horses and bayonets remark. However, the more people talk about it, the more experts will challenge it. After a while everyone will know the comments were ridiculous!

    Zbigniew Mazurak….Thank you for your expertise and information. Donald Rumsfeld was surprised at Obama’s comments calling them immature. He couldn’t believe that Obama could be dismissive of our ships. After reading your blog, I fully understand. Thanks again.

  8. AfricanforRomney says:

    Well, under Obama who need manufacuring jobs in US?That’s a once upon a time story. The new trend is that as long as the Fed in the help of Bernanke printing artificial money, keeping almost zero interest rate and consumers spending on Apple products we all live in harmony. Sad. It is very common to hear these days consumer spending on Apple products moving the GDP growth. I don’t know folks, i do NOT want Obama’s America!

    Obama doesn’t care for US manufacturing jobs. If you live in OH, don’t you want to have your M1 Abram tank manufacturing jobs to survive, at least for now? Obama thinks it is obsolete machines besides horses and bayonets.

    Join Romney/Ryan team exciting movement!
    Vote Romney/Ryan!

  9. Gojazz says:

    I now understand why the Democrats have been encouraged to vote early. As time goes on the information coming from Benghazi is getting worse.

  10. Dennis Hastings says:

    It’s inconceivable that anyone would vote for a president who sits and watches while our people are being murdered and does nothing. Has it occured to them that they’re not only likely to be thrown under the bus just like they have been for the last 4 years, but also in the case of an attack on the homeland which is only a matter of when?

  11. Zbigniew Mazurak says:

    African for Romney is right: the Obama Administration does plan to close the Lima Tank Plant (the only tank-producing plant in the country) in Lima, OH, and lay off its several thousand workers, who will have to find other jobs. On their own.

    They claim that this will save 300 mn dollars, but they plan to reopen the plant in 2017 when the Ground Combat Vehicle (a new generation of land vehicles) is scheduled to go into production, but by then, the trained workforce which now builds and modifies the US military’s tanks will be gone irrevocably.

    Romney needs to point these facts out incessantly on a televised loop until he gets over the top.

  12. AfricanforRomney says:

    @Zbigniew Mazurak, thanks for sharing your expertise. You’ve interesting blog.
    I’m not sure how the US military competes in the future with China, India, even North Korea with this admin attitude. Don’t ask me why, but in my opinion Prez Obama is in the wrong side of America in every sector, in every way of life. I don’t want America to become the country i left behind thousands of miles away.I can’t figure out what ideology is represnting.

  13. PeggyC41 says:

    I think radass_dude needs to have a reality check. If keeping America safe is important, then Benghazi IS an important deal. I personally think this is an impeachable event. Like James Kennedy said: let us not forget that the background photo at the democratic convention had Soviet ships and Turkey jets. Seems he doesn’t know much about being a commander in chief for the USA. He can’t wait till he can golf again, and they’ll have to try to find him when something like Benghazi happens again.