The successful Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden in Pakistan is the high point of this Presidency, and his decision to launch it was widely praised on the right and left. We joined the cheers in noting that it was riskier to send in the SEALs than fire a missile from hundreds of miles away. A year later, Mr. Obama is entitled to a victory lap and to tout his record as Commander in Chief, even if the self-praise is a little over the top.
But that's not enough—it never seems to be enough—for Mr. Obama and his crack Chicago campaign team. They can't merely make the case for their boss. They have to assert that if Mitt Romney had heard the same intelligence and received the same security briefings, he would have cowered from sending in the SEALs.
The evidence? Well, in 2007—yes, five years ago—Mr. Romney said about the hunt for bin Laden in the context of the war on terror that "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." Mr. Romney was challenged on the statement by Republicans at the time, and within days he clarified about bin Laden that "He will die."
So, to be clear, to mark the one year anniversary of the killing of the guy who plotted, planned, financed and executed the worst terrorist attack on our soil, the sitting president who ordered the military action to go forward is politicising the action for his re-election campaign. A rare unifying time, the death of bin Laden, Americans breathed a sigh of relief and showed gratitude to the SEALS responsible for executing the mission. Note, too, that the President of the United States should have been more discreet and not announced the Team that took bin Laden out - if for no other reason than their own security - but we have come to expect that inability to use common sense from this president. So, now the president has divided us again.
Leadership comes from the top. Shame on him. Shame on his team in Chicago.
As you might imagine, the military folks are none too happy about the president's showboating. There are reports in the media that the SEALS, in particular, are not feeling the love for Barack Obama today. Michael Mukasey, who served as U.S. attorney general from 2007-09, and as a U.S. district judge from 1988 to 2006, wrote in today's Wall Street Journal:
The man from whom President Obama has sought incessantly to distance himself, George W. Bush, also had occasion during his presidency to announce to the nation a triumph of intelligence: the capture of Saddam Hussein. He called that success "a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq." He attributed it to "the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks."
He did mention himself at the end: "Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them."
That is not to say that great leaders, including presidents, have not placed themselves at the center of great events. But generally it has been to accept responsibility for failure
Barack Obama has been labeled many things and humility is not one of those labels.
Senator John McCain, a military veteran tortured by the Vietnamese, said Obama is no hero. "Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad," McCain said.
You may remember it was the anti-war left, of whom Barack Obama was a member, who enjoyed bellowing against then President George W. Bush and claiming he was using the 9/11/01 attacks and the capture of Saddam Hussein for the benefit of his re-election in 2004.
That was then. This is now.