My first reaction upon hearing of Osama Bin Laden’s death was sheer, unadulterated joy – a monster was dead, with a bullet through the head. A just end to an evil human being. My only regret was that Bin Laden didn’t suffer more before meeting his forty virgins.
I was also filled with gratitude to President Obama for authorizing the trigger pull. My wife and I were at Disneyland when we heard the news, and I immediately whipped out my cell phone and tweeted, “Obama deserves all credit for pulling the trigger as Clinton never could.”
Then I watched President Obama’s speech, and realized that he didn’t need me to give him credit – he was too busy taking it for himself. “[S]hortly after taking office,” Obama informed the American public, “I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda.” This is 20/20 hindsight triumphalism at best – if Obama truly informed the CIA director that Bin Laden was at the top of the priority list at a time when the figurehead leader was holed up without telephone or internet, and when we were at full-scale war with al Qaeda across the Middle East, it demonstrates his lack of understanding about the nature of the terrorist threat rather than his determination.
Obama continued, “I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located Bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action … Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan …” These, naturally, are all functions the president of the United States is expected to perform. Obama felt it necessary to enumerate them only for purposes of self-aggrandizement.
It is unseemly for the Commander in Chief to take personal credit for the operations of the U.S. military. And make no mistake – that is precisely what he did. Obama and his team are the heroes of this drama, at least according to Obama and his team. All that was missing from this little laundry list of braggadocio was a personal description of the operation itself: “As I gazed through the sites of my sniper rifle at Bin Laden and waited for that brief pause between heartbeats …”
Obama’s fans, like Obama himself, are entranced with Obama’s supposed personal victory here. The incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has already given Obama full credit for the kill. So has Andrew Sullivan, who posted a picture of Obama with the caption, “Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate … I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden.” (Apparently, Obama had no such time crunch preventing him from repeat appearances on Oprah.)
This is unserious and unbecoming for the left. There are certain events for which Obama deserves credit, and certain events for which he does not. First and foremost, Obama deserves credit for authorizing the kill. President Clinton supposedly could have authorized a kill shot on Bin Laden several times, and let each and every one of those opportunities slip away. Obama made no such mistake. Of course, it’s setting a rather low bar to congratulate a president for granting authority to take a shot at the face of 21st century evil incarnate. The fact that so many Americans feel proud of Obama for greenlighting the hit simply demonstrates the depths of pusillanimity to which the presidency has sunk over the past twenty years.
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