As my colleague Tom Blumer noted, early this morning, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Josh Gerstein posited seven "hard questions" they anticipated being raised at today's presidential press conference. "[W]hen he holds his first full-scale news conference in eight months Wednesday, Obama will have to explain how he plans to re-create his national security team, what he knows about the burgeoning [Petraeus] scandal and why he didn’t get wind of it sooner, " Budoff Brown and Gerstein noted, adding, "It’ll probably leave him longing to talk more about the fiscal cliff, the less titillating storyline of the week." The Politico writers then listed seven questions that they anticipated would be asked. Some of the predicted questions ended up being asked in some form or another, but I've excerpted below the ones which didn't get pressed in any fashion at all (emphasis mine):
2. Do you worry about a culture in which trusted officials behave badly? Does this administration consider anyone who’s having an extramarital affair, or has had one in the past, to be unfit for public office?
5. You said during the last presidential debate with Mitt Romney that the defense sequester “will not happen.” Was that a misstatement or are you really that confident?
6. Why was the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi so lightly guarded, despite complaints about deteriorating security conditions in Libya?
7. So, about those new pot laws. Does the federal government plan to intervene in Washington and Colorado, which both voted to legalize marijuana last week?
There were questions on the Benghazi scandal -- Fox News Channel's Ed Henry asked what the president himself did on 9/11 in response to the consulate attack and Jonathan Karl asked for the president's reaction to Republican calls for a select congressional committee to conduct hearings on Benghazi -- but no one asked the president about lax security or to give a full accounting of his personal response to the attacks the day of September 11.
Budoff Brown and Gerstein explained why they felt the lax security at the Benghazi compound would most surely be a question posed at the press conference (emphasis mine):
Republican lawmakers are convinced that during the election Obama managed to elude responsibility for the U.S. government’s mishandling of security at the Benghazi Consulate where four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed on Sept. 11. There was little security at the compound, and it largely depended on Libyans hired to do the job. Some calls for more security in the preceding weeks and months were rebuffed, but it’s unclear whether that help would have prevented the deaths in Benghazi.
Republicans also have blasted the government for failing to act more quickly once the attack started.
There are reports that the military was poorly positioned to respond to the crisis and a CIA response team that flew in from Tripoli got stalled at the airport there for several hours. The State Department has launched a formal investigation. The CIA, which had an annex near the consulate, is also examining its role.
Republicans have criticized Obama and his aides for initially insisting that the attack began as a protest related to an anti-Islam video. Obama has said he was relying on the intelligence community’s best judgment.
At the news conference, Obama will most likely defer to the ongoing probes, but he’ll be under pressure to offer a fuller accounting of the events before and during the incident — and explain how he plans to address security and intelligence lapses moving forward.