Democratic-generated complaints notwithstanding, there was nothing wrong with George W. Bush highlighting his leadership in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as he campaigned for reelection. He was reminding us of how he had handled his job, uniting the nation at a challenging time. And since he was asking us to keep him on for another term, it was entirely appropriate to provide a record of his accomplishment.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with Obama reminding us under his watch, Navy SEALs got Osama bin Laden. We got it done under his watch. He has every right to take credit for it.
He may be, as Glenn quipped earlier today, overplaying it a bit. And to borrow the metaphor the blogmeister used, the man who scores the touchdown has every right to spike the ball to celebrate his score. Only he should also acknowledge the man who threw the pass as well as the coach — as well as the other members of the team — who helped him into scoring position. In other words, Obama may have been in position to score the kill, but he did it as part of a team.
And that team didn’t just include Democrats. Under Mr. Obama’s Republican predecessor, the team (to stay with the metaphor) moved the ball down the field [See UPDATE below]. The team didn’t score points against Republicans, but against enemies of the United States, enemies shared by both parties.
In other words, it’s one thing to campaign on his own accomplishment, quite another to suggest your opponent wouldn’t have done the same thing. As 2010 CPAC blogger of the year Ed Morrissey puts it:
Obama would be on firm ground to highlight that victory in the war on terror, as he does in his tedious “Forward” campaign video. Implying that Romney would have let Osama bin Laden go under those circumstances is, as [Arianna] Huffington says, despicable.
Yup, even that liberal blogress condemned the attack ad:
“I don’t think there should be an ad about that,” Huffington said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “I think it’s one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job (with television specials). All that is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”
. . . .
“So in a campaign, aren’t you supposed to tout your accomplishments of what you’ve done,” Gayle King asked.
Huffington replied, “That’s not just what the ad does. What the ad does is questions. … (The ad) quotes a snippet from Romney and uses that to imply that Romney would not has been as decisive. There’s no way to know whether Romney would have been as decisive. To actually speculate that he wouldn’t be is, to me, not the way to run a campaign, on either side.”
In the fight against Al Qaeda, Mr. Obama should remember that Mr. Romney is on the same team as he.
UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff cites an article which shows how Mr. Obama’s predecessor helped move the ball down the field:
Jose Rodriguez is a 31-year veteran of the CIA. During the post-9/11 years, he served as chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and later as head of the National Clandestine Service.
In today’s Washington Post, Rodriguez offers two useful reminders: (1) our high-fiving president probably would not have had the opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden last year but for “extraordinary work during the George W. Bush administration” and (2) Obama opposed key elements of that work.
“In short,” writes Jennifer Rubin, commenting on the same piece in the Post . . .
“the decision” was actually only the last link in the decision-making chain, including the decision to use EITs and black sites, that led to bin Laden’s death. Obama distorts how the intelligence community works, by portraying this as just him and the SEALs. In sum, Obama grabs too much credit, exaggerating his own role and concealing the work of others whose efforts he opposed at the time .
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