Last week, President Obama’s reelection campaign received a lot of media attention with the release of a video advertisement detailing the president’s decision to conduct the successful raid on the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan last year. Almost immediately, criticism streamed in from Republicans who argued that it was inappropriate to politicize such a unifying, sacred event.
I disagree. I think the president has every right to use the killing of Bin Laden as an argument for his reelection.
Candidates running for office should be able to cite their leadership achievements, even when it comes to sensitive issues. They should be able to provide evidence of their successes, define why those successes make them a good leader, and explain why that leadership qualifies them to be in office.
I felt the same way about Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential primaries. When someone displays the kind of leadership that he showed on 9/11 in the midst of chaos and destruction, the notion that he can’t reference that performance when running for the presidency of the United States is absurd.
Notably, the president and members of his administration didn’t always feel the way I do.
Four years ago, when then U.S. senator Barack Obama was contesting to be the Democratic party’s presidential candidate, his campaign chided opponent Hillary Clinton for using Osama Bin Laden in one of her political ads. Joe Biden, on more than one occasion mocked Rudy Giuliani for speaking of his experience at ground-zero on 9/11. Even in the wake of the Bin Laden killing, President Obama stressed that we shouldn’t treat the terrorist’s death like a “trophy” and that we shouldn’t “spike the football”.
Hypocrisy aside, I do believe our president deserves credit for ordering the Bin Laden raid, and I have no problem with him touting its success.
What I do have a problem with, however, is the narrative that has been widely pushed by the media and the administration, categorizing the tactical decision to take down Bin Laden as some sort of exceptional effort on the part of President Obama. It wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong… There were certainly military risks involved, and the issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty could have certainly opened a can of worms in our relationship with that country. However, I can’t imagine that ANY president wouldn’t have ordered the kill or capture of the man behind 9/11 if he or she was told by the CIA that they found him. Who would NOT act on that intelligence? It seems to me that it would be nearly an impeachable offense not to.
It wouldn’t have made a difference if it was George W. Bush, Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton. In a post-9/11 world, finding Bin Laden would have resulted in the terrorist becoming toast.
The reason I feel compelled to even make that point is because of the one tacky element the Obama campaign chose to introduce into their Bin Laden drive. They insinuated that Mitt Romney would not have acted on the Bin Laden intelligence, had he been the president. Of course he would have. To think otherwise would be silly.
I think it’s safe to say that the Romney campaign won’t criticize the Obama administration for his handling of Bin Laden. They shouldn’t. Obama made the right call (one of the very few he’s made over the past three and a half years), and it would be politically dumb for them to do so.
Still, there’s a glowing irony that I can’t seem to push out of my mind when I listen to the Obama administration now spike the football over the Bin Laden raid. It was the controversial intelligence and interrogation techniques put in place by the Bush administration that ultimately led the CIA to Bin Laden. These were the very techniques that Obama adamantly condemned while he ran for the presidency. For nearly four years, the Obama administration has routinely blamed the poor state of the country on a situation he inherited from Bush. Yet, he’s now running on one of the very few successes he’s enjoyed as president – one that came to fruition from policies he also inherited from Bush.
Somehow, I doubt that little tidbit will turn up any of Obama’s future campaign videos.