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Obama Got Osama – Why Can’t He Get The Credit?

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Given the spontaneous celebrations which broke out late Sunday outside the White House, in New York, and elsewhere, the news that Osama bin Laden is dead is an historic development — and a defining moment for Barack Obama’s presidency.

Chris Cillizza, the prominent Washington Post political commentator, puts it this way:

While the work of tracking down and catching bin Laden was a decades-long process that involved three presidents — not to mention thousands of people — it was President Obama who made the order today that put the operation in place that killed bin Laden. It was President Obama who announced bin Laden’s death. It was President Obama who, in his remarks tonight, used the killing of bin Laden as evidence that America can accomplish anything to which it sets its mind.

All of the above — not to mention the surge of patriotism in the wake of bin Laden’s death — will strengthen the image of Obama as a leader. It will also complicate attempts by Republican presidential candidates — at least in the near term — to attack Obama on any topic.

Republicans seem to understand this, and they aren’t happy.

Of course, they know they can’t appear too partisan in the glow of an achievement so huge as the elimination of the mastermind of the worst attack ever on U.S. soil. They understand that in doing so, they would risk looking too small and petty.

Instead, they appear to want to dilute whatever credit Obama is due as commander-in-chief by forcing the president to share the limelight with his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush.

House Speaker John Boehner, for instance, says that he wanted to “commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.”

GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor went ever further, praising Obama, but adding that the president was just following “the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice.” This is most ridiculous, and conservatives could well find linking Obama and Bush too closely could seriously backfire.

The truth is that Bush was not vigilant at all in pursuit of bin Laden. He lost focus on bin Laden as the real enemy as he ramped up his colossal misadventure in Iraq. Further, like Obama, Bush had a real shot of getting bin Laden years ago in Tora Bora, but bungled that operation.

Talking about Bush now could set up all kinds of comparisons that make Obama look so much more competent than Bush. After all, Bush swaggered on the deck of an aircraft carrier under his “Mission Accomplished” banner, only to watch years of further violence and death unfold in Iraq.

In announcing bin Laden’s death to the world on Sunday night, Obama gave no hint of swagger or cockiness. He was businesslike and matter-of-fact.

Bush was a cocky cowboy but when it came to America’s No. 1 enemy, he never got it done. Obama simply delivered results. Who would you want as your commander-in-chief?

Time will tell, but the bin Laden operation may well have sealed Obama’s re-election next year. You can believe if Bush had been the one to get bin Laden, Bush’s team would have wrung every possible political advantage from it.

Of course, the real heroes of the moment are the Navy Seals and other U.S. forces who actually took part in the operation that put the bullet in bin Laden’s head.

But just as Jimmy Carter wasn’t flying the helicopters which crashed in a failed attempt to rescue the U.S. hostages in Iran decades ago — yet received plenty of blame anyway when things went wrong — Obama, conversely, deserves credit for Sunday’s mission gone right.

Republicans just can’t seem to stand to just give Obama the unqualified due he deserves.

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About Scott Nance

  • redneckrepublican

    the only thing i do not agree with is in fact, president obama did not get bin laden. the u.s. military did the deed. they are not getting the acknowlegdements they deserve. everywhere people look, mr. obama is getting credit simply because he is the president at this time. give the credit to the correct persons, please. people, everywhere were very upset because a few weeks ago, our president wanted to cut pay for the military, and now they have done something that needed done, and for their courageous acts, still aren’t getting the regocnition that people in this country believe they need.

  • Cannonshop

    Actually, Scott, Operation Honey Badger (the hostage rescue in Iran) provided the key demonstration-lesson needed to form the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) as a means to prevent a repeat of the administrative and organizational level errors that resulted in the mission’s failure (among them, last-minute personnel and equipment changes caused by turf-fights in the pentagon.)

    I admit it was deeply unfair to blame the Desert-1/Honeybadger disaster on Carter-he was hardly in a position to tell his General STaff that they WILL work together, after all, it wasn’t like he was Commander-In-Chief or anything, and it wasn’t like he hadn’t spent the bulk of his previous two years as President gleefully gutting the same military that he asked to pull off a low-probability rescue mission in full view of the world…

    Flash forward some decades to the present. Barack Obama hasn’t made THAT carter-era mistake, meaning he hasn’t been gleefully cutting training and manpower budgets, interfering directly in day-to-day operations, and he inherited a military that has had time to digest thirty some odd years of lessons, up to and including how to get by when the CINC at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is actively hostile to service personnel.

    Then, there’s the ground-work issues, the Hostage Crisis was a crisis because it was sudden, nothing had been planned or prepared and there was no doctrine, but the need to act was immediate (or percieved as such in the White House of the time), OTOH, the military and intelligence agencies have been digging at Al-Quaeda for YEARS, finding their funding sources, tracing their communications, and interviewing witnesses and captured members to develop a a database and build an operational plan to go after Osama when he finally screws up enough to telegraph his location.

    Having a gold nugget fall into your lap is not the same thing as grubbing it out of the ground. Obama was smarter enough than some of his predecessors to say “Yeah, Go Ahead!!” when the operation was put in front of him.

    The “Credit” goes to the maligned people in Military and civil intelligence circles, and the troops on the ground doing the leg-work, not to the President. Being In Charge means you own the blame, not the success.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    And it was always my experience in 20 years in the USN that when things went right and the CO was “right”, the people that did the deed got the credit. When the CO was a dick, he TOOK all the credit.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    You’re retired Navy? That’s a true privilege. It also means that there’s not much you haven’t seen, done, or had at some point.

    And I had the same experience concerning the CO’s. I imagine you and I both have several sea stories comparing good captains to bad.

  • Boeke

    The USNs weakness has always been the rear echelon. I give you Indianapolis, Pueblo and Liberty.

  • Flights

    Obama can’t get credit for Osama because Obama has become the new Osama.

    Republicans consistently paint a picture of Barack Obama as some evil monster out to destroy the American way of life (their way of life).

    It’s a wonder he has survived longer than Osama.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop and redneck –

    So…if you go with that line of reasoning, then no president deserves credit or blame for anything.

    But you, C-shop, I’m not sure if you had this particular experience, but I remember how screwed up the Ranger was back in ’83-’84. Good men died as a result. The entire command was in a malaise – and as a result, we couldn’t do anything right. Our CO was finally fired and we got a new CO, a certain Captain Tony Davis, who eventually became the Navy’s first black admiral…and all of a sudden the whole command started kicking butt and taking names. And that wasn’t the last time I saw such a transformation.

    And that’s when I learned that while the guy in charge is almost never the one who is doing the job, the guy in charge IS the one who sets the tone, who not only gives the orders but also holds his subordinates accountable and gets them to work together as they should…

    …and as a result, he himself is also held accountable for everything that goes right and wrong on his watch.

    The guy in charge – whether captain of a ship or the commander in chief – gets the kudos for what goes right, and gets the blame for what goes wrong. That’s the way it is, and rightly so.

    Most retired military understand this. You didn’t make a career of the military, so maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to see this firsthand.

    Obama deserves the credit for catching bin Laden, just as Reagan – for all that he did that was wrong – deserves the credit for winning the Cold War. Kennedy and LBJ (both great Democrats) rightly deserve the blame for Vietnam, and FDR, Churchill, and (most of all) Stalin rightly deserve the credit for winning WWII.

    Remember that – the guy in charge gets not only the blame, but also the credit…and rightly so.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It’s not true that the president is receiving no credit. Even Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump have expressed their admiration. Extremist ax-grinders like Michelle Malkin will never praise Obama for anything, but only fellow haters listen to her very much.

  • Baronius

    Scott doesn’t give any evidence of President Obama getting lackluster credit. I haven’t heard what other conservatives are saying, but I couldn’t be happier with Obama’s success in killing bin Laden.

    Scott does hypothetically accuse Bush of being willing to use bin Laden’s death for political gain. I’m sure he’ll denounce the Obama camp’s use of bin Laden’s death for political gain. Oh, my mistake, I see that he’s already partaken in it.

    I did notice that the Republican-controlled House had a bipartisan press conference celebrating the victory, and the Democratic-controlled Senate had a press conference with only Democrats.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Glenn – I had 2 good ones that I remember to this day, the rest of ‘em can kiss my ass!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    I had two good ones, several so-so, and one waste of human flesh. The other good one went on to be the liaison between Rummy and the JCS…and they didn’t like that very much since he was ‘only’ a one-star.

    But one thing I do like is seeing the Navy Times loudly proclaiming whenever a CO or really senior NCO gets sacked – helps keep some of the rest in line.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I hear ya Glenn – I’m still wondering what went on that just got the Stout (I think) captain relieved. Apparently, the crew were playing around like sailors used to back in the day, as they say!

    Some of them, CO’s I mean, that I thought were real assholes actually served a purpose. We were down in Gitmo (in August) for Reftra on a ship fresh off a year in the yards. 65% of the crew had never been to sea and the old man wouldn’t let the ship pull in at all while we were there…until we finished training. But a few months later, after he was gone and the new CO came aboard, we took off for the Red Sea for 7 months and you could tell that we were ready. When I reupped, the CO signed a picture of the Pete (DD-969) “Thank you for the priviledge of serving on YOUR ship”.

    I believe that the CO’s being a dick helped to “harden” the crew and get them ready for that cruise. It might’ve helped us appreciate pulling into the same port 8 times while we were there. I’m pretty sure that Hurgada translates to Bummfuck. So yeah, I know where Bummfuck, Egypt is!!!

    But the captain that replaced the Gitmo CO was outstanding. The entire crew loved him! He asked for 3 volunteers one day and he got 300! Hole christ, there were only 330 guys on the ship!

    After I retired I went to work for Lockheed and was working sonar like I did in the navy. I went aboard the USS San Jacinto and Captain Woods, the CO who got all those volunteers was now the CO of this CG. He invited me to the wardroom for lunch and when we were all sitting around eating he announced to all his junior officers, that he’d go back to sea with me in a heartbeat…he looked at his officers and said…the rest of you…I’m not so sure about!

    That was a good day!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ah – the only time I spent on the east coast was five months on the Simon Lake when it was in King’s Bay, and then (after I spent a few months finding out a rural MS education did not prepare one for nuke school) went to Coronado to the Ranger for four years of getting into and out of trouble, Whidbey Island for almost three years, the Camden for four years of hell, Pearl for three years, and four great years on the Lincoln. I spent most of my time as a pit snipe, and some time up among the MAA’s – it seems the Reactor Dept. on the Lincoln didn’t want someone with a sleeping disorder standing watch. I didn’t argue – I was just glad I wasn’t kicked out with a medical discharge.

    That second CO I was talking about – he was CO of the Lincoln, and after he came aboard he replaced the ship’s seal – the Lincoln penny, underscored by the motto “shall not perish” – on the POD with his own side profile, underscored by the motto “It’s good to be the king”…which any Mel Brooks fan should recognize.

    He was certainly all about himself…but the last ‘Pac I made with him was the only one I ever made where everyone came home safe, so he rightly gets the credit. The XO was a really nice guy who would agonize over whether to send people up to mast – and when he took command of the Lincoln a few years later after I left, I understand their morale went down sharply.

    In other words, sometimes the best guy to be in charge is one who knows how to be a jerk. It’s not good to have a captain who tries too hard to make everybody happy. I sorta wish Obama knew that….