The Lethal President


I keep feeling as if I am in a different universe when I read sentences like this one from Maureen:

The president is weak and House Republicans are obstructionist.

I know what she is saying. There is a laconic, hang-back style to Obama that can be frustrating for fightin' Irish bruisers like me and MoDo. But the facts suggest something very different from a weak president. Look at the terror war. In my view, Obama has been more effective and more lethal in two years than Bush was in eight. We're almost out of Iraq, and yet we've developed a global, drone-based relentless focus on al Qaeda:

Obama is a Democratic leader who opposed the Iraq war and is pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan but has notched up a record as a lethal, relentless hunter of terrorists. He is a president who banned torture in the interrogation of suspected terrorists and pledged — unsuccessfully, so far — to close the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but carried out more drone strikes in Pakistan in his first year in office than Mr. Bush did in his eight years.

In the process, the White House said, it has killed more officials of Al Qaeda in the last two and a half years than were eliminated during the entire Bush administration. Among the big names: two top Qaeda managers, Sheik Saeed al-Masri and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, and one of its most feared field commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri.

And it's important to note that the ramp-up in Afghanistan was in part designed from the very beginning to find and kill Osama bin Laden. It was Obama who pushed that back to the top of the agenda, and Obama who saw it through. Ask Somali pirates if they think Obama is a softy. Ask Qaddafi. Instead of the cowardice and incompetence of torture and absurd displays like the "Mission Accomplished" moment, Obama has focused on refining intelligence and operating lethally in covert warfare:

Intelligence is certainly an area where the president appears confident and bold. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence who has been running spy agencies for more than 20 years, regards Obama as "a phenomenal user and understander of intelligence." When Clapper briefs the president each morning, he brings along extra material to feed the president’s hunger for information.

Those who keep insisting that Obama is weak need to ask Qaddafi or Ahmadinejad. One has been deposed; another is getting desperate because of the sanctions that Obama put in place. That this policy is not dramatized as Bush would have does not mean it is not successful. It means this president means business – and has delivered.