Were Candy Crowley and President Obama conspiring to ambush Mitt Romney at the second debate?

Watching it unfold on live TV it did not seem right. It was awkwardly and comfortably scripted, and too smooth in execution. But watching it on replay the agenda filled manipulation was obvious. It appears Candy Crowley and CNN together with the Obama Administration scripted the Libyan injection into the Presidential Debate.

I'm not just talking about Candy Crowley interjecting on behalf of President Obama, and interrupting Mitt Romney, I mean the whole segment seemed like it was a set up.

Well, I certainly wouldn't think Obama above this sort shenanigans, but it seems too risky. I think James Taranto's explanation of how Crowley was manipulated by David Axelrod and Obama is more likely.

Here's what almost certainly happened: After the interview, Axelrod, or someone else from the campaign, called Crowley's attention to the White House transcript. She read the relevant portion and conceded that Axelrod was right: Obama had called the attack an act of terror. As we wrote yesterday, such an interpretation was reasonable, although it was a matter of opinion because the president's statement was ambiguous. Obama was briefed on all this during his debate preparation.

If this surmise is correct, then Crowley knew about the "acts of terror" Easter egg hidden in Obama's Sept. 12 speech, and Obama knew she knew. Romney did not know and was as incredulous as Crowley had been, because the administration had spent weeks peddling the claim that the video dunnit. Obama brought the matter up expecting incredulity from Romney and backup from Crowley. She therefore unwittingly played her role in Obama's little ambush of his opponent. She was just clarifying the facts--or so Axelrod & Co. had led her to believe.

In this scenario Crowley was a manipulated dupe rather than an accomplice. Neither role showers her with glory.

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