The Bin Laden Freakout

May 1 2012 @ 10:45am

I can see no problem with the ad run by Obama on his extraordinarily ballsy decision to choose the riskiest path to get bin Laden and all the intelligence his compound contained. It is the kind of ad that would be a no-brainer for any Republican president, seeking re-election. If Bush had done it, he would have jumped out of a helicopter in a jump-suit with fireworks. And it is simply true that both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney downplayed the importance of finding and bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. Here is the last president, after his bungling of the battle at Tora Bora, in March 2002:

I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority… I am truly not that concerned about him.

And here is Mitt Romney who still seems to believe that the "Soviets" are our number one geopolitical foe:

It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.

And this was a key issue in the 2008 election. You may remember the debate in which Obama pledged that he would launch a unilateral attack within Pakistan if necessary to get the mass murdering religious fanatic. McCain cited this as evidence of Obama's insufficient experience in foreign policy and general jejuneness. So this was a hugely successful policy opposed by McCain, opposed by Bush and opposed by Romney. No wonder they're so upset at reality. It's the same reaction they have when it becomes clear that Osama bin Laden was captured and killed by a president smart enough not to deploy torture, years after a bunch of thugs took over US intelligence on the orders of the panicked incompetent, Dick Cheney.

And one thing about John McCain. He actually said: "And, you know the thing about heroes, they don't brag.” For his entire political career, McCain has done nothing but brag about his own military service, milking every last, disgusting drop for his own interests, making it the center-piece of his campaign. And he didn't kill anyone – just crashed his plane, was tortured, and cracked under tortured interrogation. He has spent decades making this a reason for him to be elected to various offices, from the very first first=person account in US News, which launched his political career. Heroes don't brag, Senator? How else would you describe your entire career?

I'm with Jon Meacham, who plays a tiny violin for the upset Republicans:

Republicans are — forgive the cliché — shocked, shocked to discover that a presidential contender is "politicizing" an important national event. In this sense, "politicizing" might be best translated as "beating us up and we don’t have anything much to say to stop it." The ad itself raises intriguing, substantive, legitimate questions — and the ferocious, sputtering Republican reaction is proof positive that they know it, or at least suspect it.

Tomasky echoes:

It couldn’t be more hilarious, watching these Republicans rend their garments over the Obama administration’s bin Laden video. Imaging the paroxysms we’d have been forced to endure if George W. Bush had iced the dreaded one is all we need to do to understand how hypocritical it all is. But what obviously gets under Republicans’ skin is not the fact of this video’s existence, but the fact that Barack Obama got him and they didn’t, which destroys their assumption of the past decade that they are "the 9/11 party." And more than that—and this is the real story here—it’s the fact that the Democrats don’t appear to be afraid of the Republicans anymore. That, to Republicans, is what’s truly unacceptable.

I think the Obamaites need to be more aggressive in foreign policy arguments. Obama ended one war in Iraq, dispatched Osama bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi without a single US casualty, re-set relations with Russia, brought unprecedentedly united international pressure against Iran's nuclear bomb potential, wiped out much of al Qaeda's mid-level leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and presided over democratic revolutions in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain. He restored this country's moral credibility after the dark period of Nazi-style interrogation under Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld.