Obama, Osama, Romney: What if?
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of America’s successful assassination of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama, under whose stewardship the risky attack was perpetrated, released a campaign ad boasting of this achievement and questioning whether his rival for the presidency Mitt Romney would have made the same call.
Republicans, naturally, vehemently opposed this tactic. But then, exactly what has President Obama done that the GOP has not decried in the strongest of terms? Health care reform? “Death panels.”Tackling economic inequality? “Class warfare.” Touting the targeted killing of America’s most notorious international enemy? “Silly” and “politically divisive.”(That’s from Romney.) “Unpresidential.” (Romney adviser and former Bush ambassador John Bolton.) Not “professional.” (Donald Rumsfeld, Bush Sec. of Defense.) “Diminishing.” (Sen. John McCain.)
The question of whether Romney would have acted similarly to Obama is frankly unknownable. Sure, Romney made a few statements suggesting he wouldn’t have, such as one respecting Pakistan’s sovereignty. But most people know better than to hold Romney to his word.
Romney would like to distill this issue to its most basic form: “Of course I would have taken out Osama bin Laden,” he said, as if it was a simple matter of pushing a button. But this wasn’t just a “go or no” operation: Obama had to decide from a menu of options, all of which carried great risk. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said on Monday. Actually, Carter did give a similar order — a helicopter rescue operation into Iran that failed, ending in the deaths of eight Americans and ultimately his presidency. Obama acted with this knowledge.
Romney has been campaigning for months on Obama’s alleged foreign policy weakness; it hardly seems fair to condemn Obama for fighting back. Moreover, Republicans have never shied from campaigning on the War on Terror, so why should Democrats? Bush was certainly not shy in this area; where was the disgust back then, when Karl Rove was masterminding the notorious “Mission Accomplished” stunt and accusing Democrats of “cutting and running” in Iraq? Busy, we’re sure.
Sadly, the faux outrage has become an all-too-familiar refrain from the right, and they’ll sing it until they go hoarse. It’s our job to tune it out.
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