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Obama Spikes Football on Bin Laden Killing

Explaining his decision not to release the photos of dead terrorist Osama bin Liden, President Obama famously declared “we don’t need to spike the football.” He rightly pointed out “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies” and noted that doing so might “create a national security risk.” In a further show of class, he made sure to credit efforts under his predecessor–who himself reciprocated the graciousness by declining to bask in the spotlight at Ground Zero–and to give the lion’s share of the credit to the career professionals in the intelligence and special operations community.

It was all exceedingly well played. It was statesmanlike and in keeping with his well-deserved reputation as a cool customer. As a bonus, the public would naturally give credit to the guy in the command chair when Public Enemy #1 got what he deserved, anyway.

To be sure, Obama has subsequently used variations of “we got bin Laden” as an applause line in speeches. And people who work for him, notably Vice President Biden, have been a little less humble about the manner, making a big deal about what a “gutsy call” it was to give the GO order and declaring, “If he was wrong, his Presidency was done. Over.” That’s, at best, an exaggeration. But one well within the rules of the political game.

Yesterday, though, things got silly. The Obama campaign rolled out a new ad, narrated by former President Bill Clinton, suggesting that Mitt Romney would not have made the same decision.

The entire evidence for this claim is that Romney declared in 2007 that he would not conduct drone strikes inside Pakistan without their permission–a position taken, incidentally, by Hillary Clinton at the time–and that he had stated that he would not “move heaven and earth” to go after one man. But, contrary to the assertions by Biden and Bill Clinton, giving the GO order wasn’t that hard a call. It’s not like Abbotobad is heavily defended airspace; we fly inside Pakistan with impunity and have for years. And we routinely get American servicemen killed in this war and have been doing so for more than a decade. So, the political upside was enormous while the political downside was small.

Where Obama does deserve substantial credit here is for his decision to revive the Bin Laden Unit and make getting the al Qaeda frontman a higher priority. President Bush had decided some years back that it was a distraction from the larger War on Terror and Romney’s 2007 statements would seem to indicate that he agreed with that decision. Not having the inside intel on the decision-making process–or more than a vague sense of the trade-offs involved–I really don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. Even with the advantage of hindsight, it’s not obvious. Getting OBL was a fantastic feel-good moment and a big symbolic victory; its overall impact on Islamist terrorism in general and even al Qaeda in particular was minimal.

Further, even if the GO order is less intrepid than advertised, Clinton’s statement in the ad is otherwise right: We hire presidents to make tough decisions and this president made it.

Ben Shapiro is getting kudos for poo-pooing Obama’s leadership here by pointing out that Admiral McRaven, the JSOC commander, was given complete autonomy on “timing, operational decision making and control.” Well, of course he was. Even Lyndon Johnson, who infamously involved himself in targeting decisions for bombing raids over Vietnam, delegated tactical decisions to the military. Oddly, Shapiro simultaneously criticizes the president for covering his backside with a caveat that, if the SEALs encountered unanticipated risks, the mission was “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” So, which is it? Either Obama gets no credit because he delegated all the tough calls to McRaven or he gets credit for staying engaged.

Senator John McCain has frequently been less than gracious–occasionally rising to the level of being a crank–in assessing his 2008 opponent’s foreign policy. But he gets it right here.

Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad. This is the same President who once criticized Hillary Clinton for invoking bin Laden ‘to score political points.’

This is the same President who said, after bin Laden was dead, that we shouldn’t ‘spike the ball’ after the touchdown. And now Barack Obama is not only trying to score political points by invoking Osama bin Laden, he is doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected.

No one disputes that the President deserves credit for ordering the raid, but to politicize it in this way is the height of hypocrisy.

And, again, unnecessary. There are arguments to be made about Obama’s foreign policy decisions–McCain makes a slew of them in the remainder of the statement, some of which I agree with, most of which I don’t–but the polls show that the public is quite satisfied with them taken as a whole. To the extent the election is decided on foreign policy, it redounds to this incumbent’s benefit.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    The Obama campaign’s cheap politicizing of the SEAL raid that took out bin Laden is unseemly. And unnecessary.

    And entirely predictable.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 25

  2. Hey Norm says:

    I cannot stop laughing at the irony…
    The party that ran on 9.11…in spite of the fact that 9.11 happened on their watch…is now incensed that Obama would mention an actual foreign policy accomplishment.
    Romney has spent months telling the Big Lie that Obama apologizes for the United States.
    But Obama isn’t supposed to mention something he has…you know…actually done?

    “…The Obama campaign’s cheap politicizing of the SEAL raid that took out bin Laden is unseemly. And unnecessary…”

    That sub-title is just f’ing ridiculous.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 4

  3. beth says:

    Now I’m waiting to hear the outrage about President Obama’s ads suggesting the economy has improved since he took office – how dare you talk about the improving economy when so many people suffer still! Why, it’s unseemly!

    Is there anything this President does that does not hurt the Republicans’ precious little feelings?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 55 Thumb down 4

  4. Hey Norm says:

    And the fact that Jenos Idanian applauds it proves my point.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    You’d have to be more naive than a babe in the woods not to have realized this was coming.

    That aside, from the standpoint of pure power politics I don’t begrudge Team Obama for skydiving here to the lowest common denominator. To do so would be the flip side of the coin of naivete. I would have done the same thing. Politics ain’t a game of bridge at the Hamptons. It’s a tough business. Team Obama wants to win. They’re saddled with a disastrous economy. From their standpoint it’s time to take the fight into the back alley and if necessary down into the gutter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

  6. Dan says:

    The line that it was no big deal as we have been flying though Pakistani airspace for years and that if all of the SEALs had been killed the US public would have been relaxed as we had been seeing casualties for years, is simply a nonsense.

    We have flown through Palistani airspace with their knowledge and permission, sending a flight without their knowledge was a risk, and we could have got into a shooting match with Pakistan, that risk would have gone away with sharing info with Pakistan but then we risk info getting out, Obama would have been blamed either way if we got into shooting with loyal allies, or if OBL got away, he would have been criticised for being a crypto Muslim and beeping weak in standing up to Pakistan.

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  7. Scott says:

    Of course Obama has to campaign on this. You campaign on your strengths. The Republicans have been starting to, and will continue to, use the old Rovian tactic of attacking and belittling an opposing candidates strong positions. It was already beginning that Republicans would start saying the Bin Laden raid was not Obama’s doing, not really engaged, etc. etc. They did this with Kerry by denying his war record. Kerry never recovered.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 1

  8. Herb says:

    It’s politics, though. Not football, not beanbag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. James says:

    Where Obama does deserve substantial credit here is for his decision to revive the Bin Laden Unit and make getting the al Qaeda frontman a higher priority. President Bush had decided some years back that it was a distraction from the larger War on Terror and Romney’s 2007 statements would seem to indicate that he agreed with that decision.

    Yes, that worked out very well for the United States, didn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. You know, some of us laughed when GWB put on a flight suit, landed a jet on an aircraft carrier, and looked up at the sign “Mission Accomplished.” Later we groaned at the same memory.

    Funny that what is clearly a campaign ad, and not … WTF was that? Did the US government pay for Bush’s personal appearance and celebration? Or did he rent that jet?

    Get over it. This is a campaign, and that is an ad.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  11. JohnMcC says:

    When did the so-called-conservatives quit running on the unfortunately disasterous Operation Eagle Claw? I think that lasted them — what? — thirty years? And John McCain? Really? Has anyone every seen a political ad for Mr McCain that did not show images of him as a POW?

    Please, Mr Joyner, do not sink to your stereotype.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  12. Hey Norm says:

    @ JP…
    Holy crap…did my taxes pay for the codpiece Bush was wearing under that flight suit???
    That should have been a campaign expenditure.
    At least Obama has a Big Stick…or so Biden says anyhow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. michael reynolds says:

    I rarely feel the desire to call bullshit on you James, but seriously, this is ridiculous.

    Your party is trying to attack Obama on FP, with Mitt puffing out his chest and playing the manly he-man. Obama responds. He responds with roughly one billionth of one percent of the Bush/Cheney 911 pandering that went on for years, and that’s a problem?

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  14. Jeremy R says:

    McCain is amazing… He didn’t seem to have similar qualms about invoking 9/11 politically when he played that featurette at his convention, with the towers on fire. He certainly never held Rudy “9/11″ to similar standard (or the GWB campaign and it’s usage of the iconic rubble megaphone imagery).

    It’s funny, just as the campaign truly gets into gear, and as low information voters start paying attention, and the admin starts really promoting one of their most positive foreign policy successes (in other words, campaigning/not committing political malpractice) the Right, and the media to some extent, are already pushing back, and saying you’re going too far, we won’t allow this. And of course, at the same time, the Right, including McCain in that statement, continues to push in the opposite direction, and belittle all of the President’s foreign policy achievements, painting a fun-house mirror caricature of them. Odd double standard that.

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  15. al-Ameda says:

    John McCain:

    Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad. This is the same President who once criticized Hillary Clinton for invoking bin Laden ‘to score political points.’

    Two words John, “Mission Accomplished.”

    I thought the president exercised restraint: I didn’t see Obama don a flight suit and string “Mission Accomplished” banners across the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego.

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  16. mattb says:

    James (or others who support Jame’s premise), perhaps you could discuss how a President (or other government official) might respectfully use military victories in campaigns.

    It seems like GWB reinvented this game with “Mission Accomplished.” By that I mean not just the speech, but the enterance via fighter jet, complete with flight suit and then wearing pseudo military garb for the speech (He didn’t wear a suit did he?).

    That act really blurred the line between civilian and soldier (and was very much staged as a campaign event). Is it surprising that the current administration is continuing this pattern?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  17. Lit3Bolt says:

    The Republican he-men push and knock each other aside in the rush to the fainting couch.

    Sad to see James completely buy into the PR pushback campaign by Republicans and their allies to deconstruct any accomplishments by a Democratic president.

    Unlike the Republicans of this post and thread, most of us remembers the National Guard dropout Mr. Bush strutting and preening like a peacock on stag—-I mean, an aircraft carrier.

    So any and all political theater and actions by Republicans is understandable and justifiable, but any actions by Democrats are unseemly and uncivil and not at all in good taste.

    Seriously, whatever the Republicans are taking to forget the Bush years, I want some.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  18. Hey Norm says:

    @ MattB…
    Actually he did wear a suit for the speech.
    Because of the podium you couldn’t tell if he removed the codpiece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Two words for John McCain: Sarah Palin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  20. Hey Norm says:

    I just read that NBC has an interview with Obama, taped in the White House “Situation Room”, that is going to air on 5/2…the one year anniversary of OBL’s death.
    That should make Republican heads explode.
    Can’t wait to read James’ reaction to that. The interview that is…not Republican heads exploding.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  21. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Hey Norm:

    How unseemly!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. anjin-san says:

    If the treasury got $1000 for every time a Republican exploited 9.11 for political reasons, we would have the national debt paid off. Hell, we would probably own the world.

    And who can forget McCain’s craven hand wringing during the ’08 debates as he told us we could never go after Bin Laden in Pakistan. No siree Bob. Can’t offend Pakistan.

    Given the record, its very, very easy to see why the GOP want’s Bin Laden’s death off the table.

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  23. Modulo Myself says:

    Personally, I find it appalling that Obama never gave all of the credit to Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Ahmad Chalabi. Those guys are the ones who did all of the hard work. Oh, and Paul Bremer, and the dudes at the Brooking Institute. Who else? Don Rumsfeld, for having the guts to have guts. And John Bolton, for telling the UN to go f— itself. And George Bush, of course, for surviving the terror of having realized that he ignored the CIA in the summer of 2001. And all of the big-time true patriot pundits, for telling us that sometimes you have to smash a country in the wall, once or twice, to prove your point. And let’s not forget the American public, who nobly knew that we had a point, for they decided that Iraq had attacked us and that we did find WMDs, despite what the liberal defeatists believed.

    They all really came together.

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  24. anjin-san says:

    Here’s some McCain video from ’08. How is it not “exploiting” the POW experience? Exploiting the war in general?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQsckD9trn4

    James, can you provide links to the posts you made at the time telling us how “unseemly” this is?

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  25. Gustopher says:

    But, contrary to the assertions by Biden and Bill Clinton, giving the GO order wasn’t that hard a call. It’s not like Abbotobad is heavily defended airspace; we fly inside Pakistan with impunity and have for years. And we routinely get American servicemen killed in this war and have been doing so for more than a decade. So, the political upside was enormous while the political downside was small.

    Really?

    You do realize that the Pakistanis were not at all pleased with our raid, right? And that was with it successfully getting bin Laden and demonstrating that he had been there for years. Do you think that Pakistan would continue to be our partner in the War on Terror had we come up empty? Had we not gotten bin Laden, would the Pakistani government have survived not kicking us out of the country?

    Without permission, flying into a country, putting boots on the ground and shooting things is, quite simply, an act of war.

    We made the Pakistanis eat a sh.t sandwich on this one. With the threat that we might consider them to have been harboring bin Laden (with the example of what happens in that case over in Afghanistan) if they didn’t eat it with a smile.

    So, risking losing a key “partner” in the War on Terror, and risking destabilizing the government of a nuclear power, to maybe get bin Laden. I’m not even sure it was the right decision, let alone an easy decision.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  26. Jeremy R says:

    Admiral McRaven’s rebuttal to mini-Breibrat Ben Shapiro:

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102133_2102330-3,00.html

    McRaven speaks respectfully of Bush as Commander in Chief, saying he “made some very, very tough decisions.” About Obama, without a question to prompt him, he waxes lyrical and at length. The planning and decisionmaking for the bin Laden raid, he volunteers, “was really everything the American public would expect from their national leadership.”

    “The President was at all times presidential,” he says. “I would contend he was the smartest guy in the room. He had leadership skills we’d expect from a guy who had 35 years in the military.”

    Strangely effusive praise from someone who was so obviously being hung out to dry…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  27. walt moffett says:

    At this point, we should consider ourselves lucky the commemorative Avenger of 9/11, Avenger of Lockerbie (on the obverse) coin and plate set has not turned up yet. Though, Obama the Real Avenger t-shirts might turn up at rallies near military bases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. James Joyner says:

    @Hey Norm: As the post explains, though, it’s unseemly by Obama’s own standards. And unnecessary because Obama rightly gets credit for making the call without hamming it up.

    @Herb: Oh, I’m not saying this is some great outrage, much less unprecedented. Just that Obama said he wasn’t going to do this and now is.

    @michael reynolds: I actually declaimed all the 9/11 grandstanding even back in 2004, especially the notion that John Kerry was somehow dangerous. I don’t think it’s outrageous or out of bounds. It is, as I called it in this post, “silly” and, as I called it in the front page teaser, “unseemly.” And, again, my major point is that Obama gets the credit without the grandstanding.

    @anjin-san: Actually, yes. See “McCain Making Kerry Mistake on Vietnam?” and “McCain’s POW Get Out of Jail Free Card.” Both reference an August 2004 post called “Heroes Don’t Shout.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  29. Hey Norm says:

    Imagine if Bush, or Romney for that matter, got OBL…as Sullivan says, they’d already be carving his head on Mt. Rushmore.

    OBL is dead, GM is alive.
    Romney says he wouldn’t have bothered with either.
    What more needs to be said?

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  30. anjin-san says:

    we fly inside Pakistan with impunity and have for years. And we routinely get American servicemen killed in this war and have been doing so for more than a decade. So, the political upside was enormous while the political downside was small.

    Really? Conducting an unauthorized military mission in a sovereign nation is no big deal. A nation that is a nuclear power. A Muslim nation that is a nuclear power. Just another day at the office. Small downside.

    Actually, as Gustopher points out, it was an act of war. At the least, we humiliated a nation that is supposedly a key ally.

    the political downside was small.

    Let’s take another look at this. Suppose the mission fails. The Seal team is wiped out. Desert One Part II. Can you imagine the political backlash? I think “seismic” is a fair word. Sorry, I have to call Utter BS on this.

    There are not a lot of Republicans left that have credibility beyond the 27%. James actually has a lot. I hope he does not blow it between now and November.

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  31. Hey Norm says:

    @ James…
    I think “hamming it up” is hyperbole.
    This is simply a version of the 3am ad.
    The President gets one chance to make a decision.
    Romney needs a focus group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  32. Davebo says:

    Has he done anything other than follow a clearly marked-out path through an unremarkable, unchallenging life?

    The entire evidence for this claim is that Romney declared in 2007 that he would not conduct drone strikes inside Pakistan without their permission

    The entire evidence James? Are you sure you want to go with that?

    Also Romney is quoted…

    “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person…”

    “…It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that.”

    He’s sewn up the nomination now yet we are all still waiting to hear this plan which he has apparently had for a long time.

    Do you know the plan James? Or is it sort of like Nixon’s secret plan to end the Vietnam war?

    The fact is Romney took the Bush approach and was not concerned with Bin Laden.

    The other fact is that despite the obvious dysfunctionality of the Republican party right now, and I feel you recognize that, you are doubling down with them with this post.

    Also, you could have pointed to statements of relevant Republicans to make the same point you made by mentioning Ben Shapiro. But then that would have further highlighted the dysfunctionality mentioned above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  33. michael reynolds says:

    And, again, my major point is that Obama gets the credit without the grandstanding.

    I don’t think that’s true. Amazingly not true. Fox/GOP labors night and day to deny facts as obvious as this, and they have an effect on their core audience (stupid people over 50).

    Fox and its party have long since abandoned even the most tenuous connection to truth and have freed themselves to simply fabricate reality. Which is how we get to Mitt Romney and John McCain trying to cast Mr. Obama as weak on defense — despite his ruthlessly effective take-down of Al Qaeda.

    Conservatives no longer inhabit consensual reality. They live in the Matrix, plugged in to a propaganda machine that feeds and waters their prejudices night and day. They live in a world where the economy was going just great until Obama took over. They live in a reality where there was never a threat of depression, never a potential for bank failures. They live in a world where the health care system was just peachy until Obama ruined it all with legislation that hasn’t even taken effect yet. They live in a reality where Mr. Bush kept us safe from terrorists and Mr. Obama failed to do so.

    When people choose to live a lie they need on occasion to be reminded that the truth still exists.

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  34. Hey Norm says:

    @ James…
    John Kerry failed to respond to the Swiftboaters, prefering to stay above the fray, and look where it got him.
    Romney has been attacking Obama’s foreign policy. It’s naive to think he shouldn’t respond in some manner. The apologizing Big Lie is only part of it. My personal favorite is advocating for what Obama is doing on Iran, strong sanctions, but suggesting he isn’t. That’s a nuanced argument to make…it doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. OBL is the mother of all bumper stickers. There’s no nuance here. Hence Republican’s whining like spoiled $1/4 billionaires.

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  35. anjin-san says:

    I don’t think that’s true. Amazingly not true. Fox/GOP labors night and day to deny facts as obvious as this

    I hardly ever watch cable news, but I watched Fox very carefully for several days after Bin Laden was killed. They talked a great deal about the vision, courage and leadership of the President. President Bush, that is…

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  36. anjin-san says:

    @ James,

    Your earlier criticism of McCain for using the POW issue is noted. That’s one of the reasons you have the credibility I mentioned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  37. jukeboxgrad says:

    I know others have made this point, but I have to say this anyway.

    The party of “Mission Accomplished” is now making a fuss about “spikes football?” This should be in the dictionary as an illustration for the word ‘chutzpah.’

    By the way, this is the portion of American deaths in Iraq that occurred after “Mission Accomplished:” 97%.

    anjin-san:

    And who can forget McCain’s craven hand wringing during the ’08 debates as he told us we could never go after Bin Laden in Pakistan. No siree Bob. Can’t offend Pakistan.

    Yes, exactly. McCain criticized Obama because Obama allegedly “suggested bombing Pakistan without their permission.”

    It’s also helpful to recall how other conservatives reacted at the time, when Obama talked about how he intended to go after OBL. They used words like “insanity” and “naive.” They accused him of “looking like an idiot while provoking an ally.”

    About a year ago I collected a bunch of those comments and posted them at VC. I would link to that post, but the VC archives are now gone. So instead I’ll post those comments here.

    Obama talked about this in a very visible way on three occasions (that I know of). He made a speech on 8/1/07:

    I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.

    This also came up in the first debate with McCain (9/26/08):

    if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.

    And then in the second debate (10/7/08):

    And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaida. That has to be our biggest national security priority.

    Here are some examples of right-wing reactions to these statements. Bill Kristol, 8/13/07:

    [Obama seems] naive about real world threats, frantically suggesting that he would invade Pakistan.

    Limbaugh, 8/1/07:

    … poor Musharraf, he wakes up today, and he learns that Barack Obama wants to invade his country. He wants to take the troops out of Iran [sic] and invade Pakistan. … Wow. In this speech, he also said that if Musharraf doesn’t do the right thing over there and clean out these terrorists in the mountainous regions, he’s going to go in there and do it himself. He would invade Pakistan. Now, the military futility of that is crazy. … this is a nonsensical thing. It shows exactly what Mrs. Clinton claimed Barack Obama is, and that’s naïve. This has so much naïveté. He’s just trying to bulk up here, he’s trying to flex his muscles to demonstrate to everybody just how serious he can be, and also make a play for the anti-war left. … Obama says he wants to invade Pakistan. Well, not really all of Pakistan, he just wants to go into northwestern Pakistan. … Almost170 million people live in Pakistan. It’s a wobbly government. They got nuclear weapons. The peace candidate wants to send in troops. … the Obama plan is irrational.

    … I have to go back to Tora Bora. We turned that place 2,000 degrees, and it is said that bin Laden was seen on the ground there. If he got away from there, then he got away, but, frankly, I’m not convinced that the guy is still alive. But it doesn’t matter, regardless. We didn’t capture and kill Hitler. We didn’t capture or kill Tojo. We didn’t capture or kill Mussolini. We didn’t determine the success in those wars on the capture or assassination beforehand of the ringleaders of these particular nations and movements. …

    Michelle Malkin, 8/1/07:

    Barack Obama: Macho man … the laughingstock Democrat presidential candidates have been eating their Wheaties. … Today, it’s Barack Obama shaking his fist at Pakistan. ABC News reports on the first-term senator’s latest, greatest “bold” idea–invading Pakistan unilaterally. Diplomacy, international law, and the U.N. be damned! Behold, Obama the Cowboy … Ooooooh. Scaaaary. Is there anything more pathetic than a defeatist retreatist trying to sound tough on terror? Snicker. Snort. Guffaw.

    Ed Morrisey, 8/1/07:

    Obama: Let’s Pull Out Of Iraq And Invade Pakistan … Democrats have been demanding a withdrawal from Iraq for the past two years, and Barack Obama knows exactly what he’ll do with the troops once they withdraw. He’ll send them on an invasion of Pakistan … One would hope that this would mark the end of Barack Obama’s credibility as a presidential candidate. … If we march across the border of a sovereign nation without their permission, that’s an act of overt war. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and would be likely to use them in a last extreme. … One might expect a serious presidential candidate to avoid looking like an idiot while provoking an ally that still helps more than he hurts in that region. Obama seems determined to prove himself unserious.

    Andrew McCarthy, 2/25/08:

    On Pakistan, Senator Obama is entirely right. The only problem I have is that I don’t think he really means a word of it. He is going to get tough with Pakistan about the same way Bill Clinton was going to get tough with China in ‘92 … i.e., right up til the moment he gets elected, at which point all the saber rattling will prove to be empty talk, and appeasement will be the order of the day. … If I thought Obama was actually serious, that would be a reason to consider voting for him. Naturally, he’s not serious … I think the safety of the American people and their actual allies would be greatly enhanced by a very public understanding — such as the one that took hold for about ten minutes after 9/11 — that the United States will not tolerate safe havens from which radical Islam can orchestrate attacks against the West, and that either the host regime does something about it or we will.

    Needless to say, a bunch of people were claiming that Obama said he would “invade” Pakistan, even though that’s not quite what he said.

    Victor Davis Hanson, 8/28/08:

    Foreign Policy Insanity … Obama will invade Pakistan, as he earlier promised, to get bin Laden? … And he wants to debate John McCain on all that? In town meetings?

    Also see this FDL post recapping similar statements by Palin, McCain, and GWB: “In 2008, Bush, McCain and Palin All Blasted Obama’s Willingness to Strike Terrorist Targets in Pakistan.” And of course Romney’s statement has already been mentioned.

    This is also a good time to remember that Bush “closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden.” Which made sense, in a way, since Bush famously said “I really just don’t spend that much time on him.”

    When it was their job to get OBL, the GOP failed to do so. And then when Obama said he would do it, they mocked him for saying so. And then when he actually did it, they said he shouldn’t take credit for it, and they’re still saying that.

    Like I said, chutzah. Also amnesia. Aside from hate and stupidity, Republicanism runs on chutzpah and amnesia.

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  38. jukeboxgrad says:

    norm:

    The party that ran on 9.11…in spite of the fact that 9.11 happened on their watch…is now incensed that Obama would mention an actual foreign policy accomplishment.

    Yup. Digby has a nice collection of campaign ads from McCain and the GOP showing their practice of “shameless politicizing” of war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  39. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Joyner:

    As a political scientist you should know how semantics like “unseemly” are used as political weapons to undermine authority and legitimacy. You should also not hold Democrats to arbitrary double standards where they are simultaneously condemned for failing to stand up for themselves and accused of “playing politics” (another semantic) when they do.

    In my mind, you’re either being a) ignorant, or b) disingenuous by suggesting that their is something really and truly wrong and out of bounds with Obama’s advertisement. You’re simply holding Obama to a higher standard so it’s easier to yank the rug out from under him later, because you’re simply shocked, shocked that he’s using Bin Laden’s death for political points in an election year. Quick Robin! Get me the Bat-smelling salts!

    Later you’ll probably be mystified why the Obama campaign is failing to get its message of Obama’s foreign policy victories across to the American people and condemn them for poor political messaging too, without a single acknowledgement of Sharpio’s pushback article that was probably pre-written for this occasion and McCain’s own grandstanding antics.

    To sum up:

    1. Obama cannot claim credit for killing Bin Laden, and cannot advertise his achievement even during an election year, and it wasn’t an important decision anyway. (Unpresidential!)

    2. McCain, who has used his POW time as a status symbol, is right to condemn Obama for shaming the memory of 9-11, which the Republican party has never exploited to their own political gain.

    3. Because James condemned the Iraq war in 2004, a year or two late, he is immune of accusations of being in the tank for Republicans, even when he uncritically swallows the latest bilge from Breitbart.com, the hackiest Republican political site on the Internet.

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  40. jukeboxgrad says:

    From Jonathan Chait:

    In 2004, Democrats were furious that Bush used the 9/11 attacks as a political asset. Now, Republicans are indignant that Obama is running on having killed Osama bin Laden. (Of course, the difference is that 9/11 was at best something Bush had no responsibility for and at worst a colossal blunder, while killing bin Laden is an actual accomplishment.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  41. James Joyner says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    uncritically swallows the latest bilge from Breitbart.com, the hackiest Republican political site on the Internet.

    The whole point of that paragraph was how utterly vacuous the Breitbart/Shapiro argument is. That, of course, Obama deserves kudos for making a tough call. I make that point repeatedly in the piece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  42. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Joyner:

    ARG!!! This is so irritating. Then why link to this crazy stuff, James? Why say they’re getting kudos as if they’ve done something important or say that John McCain “gets it right?”

    Is it because Obama has lied? Is that it? Are you furious that Obama has apparently changed his mind to “spike the football” on Bin Laden? During an election year? You’d be accusing him of political malpractice if he didn’t make some sort of ad trumpeting that.

    At best, you’re indifferent, confused, or sympathetic to all of the Republican hack arguments that are being made to diminish Obama’s significant political and policy victory, while you’re more than willing to condemn Obama for the dire and unforgivable crime of tooting his own horn in an election year, and also apparently willing to conflate his own words with the claims being made in television ads.

    No more weasel words. Is this ad in bounds or out of bounds politically James?

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  43. michael reynolds says:

    What’s really unfair to Republicans is that Mr. Obama succeeded where Mr. Bush failed.

    They have a hard time accepting that reality. So we have Mr. Romney running back to the Cold War, citing non-existent countries and long-faded conflicts, and all-but promising to attack Iran on inauguration day, to try and reclaim some of that old GOP testosterone.

    The GOP: failed at war, failed at peace, created zero jobs, left the country mired in Afghanistan, Iraq and on the precipice of another Great Depression. In addition to all that they’ve discovered that women hate them, Hispanics hate them, their social agenda is seen as contemptible bigotry by the young and the educated, and their candidate isn’t even loved by his own supporters.

    I mean, what choice do they have but to lie? Truth is no friend to conservatives. It will be lies from here on out.

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  44. Robert Levine says:

    If killing bin Laden was the correct decision, and improved the position of the US overseas, what’s wrong with pointing it out repeatedly? It was something the previous (Republican) president had failed to achieve – to the point where he began to pooh-pooh its importance.

    Romney is not in a very good position to claim that he was quoted out of context, given his history of simply making sh*it up about Obama (and of course quoting him radically out of context).

    So, the political upside was enormous while the political downside was small.

    It may look that way now. But the last high-profile night mission in the region that involved helicopters just about destroyed the President who ordered it. Flying a hostile mission into Pakistan without notifying the Pakistan military was a risky (though necessary) move; imagine the political consequences if the mission had failed and the Pakistani military began shooting at the US aircraft.

    I understand the discomfort with appearing to boast about causing the death of anyone, no matter how repugnant or evil. But it was a foreign policy success, and a tough call, and I see nothing wrong with Obama claiming credit for both.

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  45. Hey Norm says:

    “…The GOP: failed at war, failed at peace, created zero jobs, left the country mired in Afghanistan, Iraq and on the precipice of another Great Depression. In addition to all that they’ve discovered that women hate them, Hispanics hate them, their social agenda is seen as contemptible bigotry by the young and the educated, and their candidate isn’t even loved by his own supporters…”

    Well.
    That pretty much sums it up.

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  46. An Interested Party says:

    It’s a hell of a stark choice, isn’t it? On the one hand, you have the president who got Osama bin Laden and on the other hand, you have a candidate who has advisors that are talking about the Soviet threat to Czechoslovakia–in the year 2012…oh, and even though we might repeat it ad nauseum (it deserves to be repeated that much), anytime Republicans want to talk about how tough they are compared to Democrats, let us gently remind them that 9/11 happened on their watch…

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  47. anjin-san says:

    We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaida. That has to be our biggest national security priority.

    Go back and look at the video of Obama discussing this in the ’08 debates. He looks like a man who is not screwing around. He said what he was going to do and then went out and did it.

    The core problem for Republicans here is that Obama is actually doing what Republicans like to think they do, but don’t. Killing our real enemies by fighting smarter, and fighting with focus and relentless determination – not by pouring American lives and national treasure into ratholes.

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  48. mattb says:

    In defense of James, I can see how he, as a veteran can take issue with the ad. And as far as I can tell James is being internally consistent.

    However, from a pragmatic standpoint, I don’t see how commentators on the right can attack this sort of advertising and defend the ‘mission accomplished’ grandstanding of the previous administration. And that entire press spectacle reads even worse when one considers that GHWB was the last actual ‘war hero’ to occupy the Oval Office.

    Unfortunately, like other executive expansions, one can only wonder when, if ever, a future candidate will walk back from using this type of imagery. I suspect we’ll have to wait until our next sustained peace (who knows when that will ever happen).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  49. Davebo says:

    I went through the entire archives for the month of Bush’s Mission Accomplished speech. Here’s what I found.

    1. No mention of the speech or how it’s a “spike” by the flightsuit flotsam.

    2. In early 2003 James was sort of a Glenn Reynolds wanna be. Linking to the goofiest posts imaginable with a happy “hey indeedy” and no comment.

    He’s certainly evolved over the years with the exception of posts like this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  50. PJ says:

    @Davebo:
    For fun, read John Cole (Balloon Juice) and Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs) from 2001-2003, then read them today. That’s evolving. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  51. Moderate Mom says:

    I say let him spike the football as hard as he wants. OBL was killed on his watch, and he deserves the credit. However, don’t give me that BS about not letting the public see photographs of the dead OBL because it might “inflame” tensions, or would be spiking the ball. I’d say running this ad and celebrating the one year anniversary of OBL’s death with an interview from the Situation Room is every bit as inflammatory and ball spiking as those pictures would be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  52. James Joyner says:

    @Davebo: The blog evolved, along with the blogosphere generally. I used to do a lot more external linking, a lot less blockquoting, and a lot more, mostly shorter, posts.

    At the time, I saw the Bush flightsuit thing as a way to honor the troops and rally the nation; it seems sillier in hindsight–even if we leave aside the infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, which was the doing of the sailors, not the administration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

  53. Michelle says:

    @James Joyner:

    the infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, which was the doing of the sailors, not the administration.

    Are you seriously blaming that on the sailors? I thought Laura Bush trotted that theory out and it was debunked rather quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  54. anjin-san says:

    If the Mission Accomplished banner was indeed the work of sailors, it was a miserable failure by Bush’s advance team – allowing the theme of a major address to be chosen by a third party. No one really remembers what he said that day, just the banner and the flight suit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  55. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    At the time, I saw the Bush flightsuit thing as a way to honor the troops and rally the nation; it seems sillier in hindsight–even if we leave aside the infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, which was the doing of the sailors, not the administration.

    At the time I saw it as a photo-op that the Bush Campaign was going to run endlessly in the run-up to the 2004 election. I was wrong, they decided to go Swift Boating instead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  56. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mattb: James (or others who support Jame’s premise), perhaps you could discuss how a President (or other government official) might respectfully use military victories in campaigns.

    How about by simply mentioning it, and not saying “the other guy wouldn’t have had the balls to do this?”

    And yeah, let’s revisit that issue. Obama took 16 hours to sleep on the decision, then his White House had to constantly update and revise and correct their narrative of just what happened. That’s REAL presidential, Barry.

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  57. @James Joyner:

    I saw the Bush flightsuit thing as a way to honor the troops and rally the nation

    Come on man, a “look at me” moment if there ever was one …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  58. @anjin-san:

    and the flight suit.

    I think landing the jet was the centerpiece. “look at me, ‘War President.’”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  59. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    even if we leave aside the infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, which was the doing of the sailors, not the administration.

    The White House had to admit that that wasn’t right back in 2003.

    Bannergate:

    Not long afterwards, the White House had to amend its account. The soldiers hadn’t put up the sign; the White House had done the hoisting. It had also produced the banner — contrary to what senior White House officials had said for months. In the end, the White House conceded on those details, but declared them mere quibbles. The point was, they said, that the whole thing had been done at the request of the crewmembers. Even that explanation didn’t sit well with some long-time Bush aides. “They (the White House) put up banners at every event that look just like that and we’re supposed to believe that at this one it was the Navy that requested one?” asked a senior administration official. Others remember staffers boasting about how the president had been specifically positioned during his speech so that the banner would be captured in footage of his speech.

    Seriously, I find it despicable to blame the sailors as they did at the time. But then they never were really willing to own their own mistakes.

    Also, a more recent excuse for the banner was that it wasn’t specific enough.

    PERINO: President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific, and said, Mission Accomplished For These Sailors Who Are On This Ship On Their Mission. And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.

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  60. al-Ameda says:

    Some context would be helpful, right?

    When President Carter’s mission to rescue the hostages in Iran failed people blamed the president, not the military team that was sent to accomplish the job. No one assigned blame to the military or to the team, people criticized the president (the Commander In Chief).

    Fast forward to the Bin Laden mission. Obama acted decisively and authorized the mission, and it was carried out successfully as planned. So what do we get from the Right? They minimize Obama, and say that it was the Seal Team that got it done, that the president should get no credit.

    So, I say President Obama had better emphasize the Administration’s accomplishment here because Republicans will do anything to “Swift Boat” the president and diminish a real accomplishment.

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  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: I give Obama full credit for making the decision.

    He loses points for sitting on his ass for 16 hours to make the call, and more for constantly spinning and revising and correcting the accounts on just what went down.

    And more points for naming the unit involved, and letting Biden name the general in charge of the operation.

    Still a net positive.

    So, what’s his promise for his second term — “I’ll get Bin Laden again?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  62. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Wow, a whole 16 hours elapsed prior to the decision to go ahead!
    But, fair enough, I understand your point.

    His promise(s) for the Second Term should be:
    “We will preserve MediCare and Social Security” and
    “We support our Auto Industry jobs” and
    “We will continue to support our alliances in Europe and the Middle East” and
    “We will remain vigilant with respect to Iran”

    Sensible stuff like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  63. Hey Norm says:

    What Jenos considers Presidential is cooking intelligence, outing covert operatives, sending 4000 troops to their death, dropping $2T+, and empowering our enemy…all for a war of choice.
    Maybe Presidential doesn’t mean what Jenos thinks it means.

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  64. Davebo says:

    At the time, I saw the Bush flightsuit thing as a way to honor the troops and rally the nation; it seems sillier in hindsight–even if we leave aside the infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, which was the doing of the sailors, not the administration.

    As has already been pointed out, the White House was responsible for the banner and after having lied about that fact initially they finally fessed up.

    And S-3 arrested landing? Initially the WH claimed it was required due to the distance to the carrier. Once again, like clockwork, we find distance was no issue and the ship was actually re positioned so the cameras would’t pick up the San Diego skyline in the background.

    You seriously don’t remember all this? It was beyond outlandish stage craft Jim.

    I suppose that study about folks who watch Fox News and ready wingnut blogs are poorly informed was right after all.

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  65. jukeboxgrad says:

    So, what’s his promise for his second term — “I’ll get Bin Laden again?”

    The point is not that he’ll “get Bin Laden again.” The point is that he can be trusted to get any future bin Laden.

    Part of the importance of getting OBL is that it sends this message to any would-be future OBLs: we’ll get you. History shows that Obama can be trusted to make that threat real, and the GOP cannot. Which means Obama in the White House is a better deterrent than the other guy, and this a powerful reason to understand that we are safer with Obama.

    If Romney is in power, and you’re someone thinking of following in OBL’s footsteps, then Romney’s words (“it’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person”) are a signal to you that you don’t have much to worry about.

    Romney’s words are quite wrong, and reflect exceptionally poor judgment. When someone commits a crime as big as OBL’s, it is indeed “worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” Why? Because if you let them get away with it, you are sending a loud message that others who do the same thing are also going to get away with it, and this is an invitation for further attacks.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to even explain this, but you’re pretty thick.

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  66. Davebo says:

    Getting OBL was a fantastic feel-good moment and a big symbolic victory; its overall impact on Islamist terrorism in general and even al Qaeda in particular was minimal.

    Sort of a reverse “Well we haven’t been attacked again since 9/11″.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  67. anjin-san says:

    “worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

    I just never got the GOP’s indifference to catching/killing Bin Laden. He was responsible for murdering 3000 Americans in the heart of New York City. He had to go down – no ifs, ands, or buts.

    That some see justice for 3000 of our murdered countrymen as sort of a PR stunt is very telling.

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  68. Michelle says:

    @James Joyner: This is what is wrong with conservatives and republicans. They still believe the nonsense and use it even to this day. I doubt you will admit that blaming the sailors is wrong, even now.

    Why do you insist upon repeating the same lie again and again? McCain says shame? I say shame on you for blaming the sailors, once again, for what the administration did and what that means.

    Shame on you.

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  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    I say shame on you for blaming the sailors

    Blaming the little guy is standard MO for the GOP. Another classic example is Abu Ghraib. Wolfowitz (among others) blamed it on “a few bad apples,” and it was the little guys who took the fall, even though we later learned this:

    senior officials sought out information on, were aware of training in, and authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques … Those senior officials bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses … The abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own

    11 GOP Senators put their names on that finding, which makes it harder to ignore. But of course it has been ignored.

    So blaming the sailors for that banner is just part of this same pattern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  70. Michelle says:

    I can’t comment anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  71. The other thing is that, IMO, James is totally off base about “spiking the football.” That was in context of international relations, and fanning flames in the middle east. He didn’t want to release photos, or say things after the raid, that would show up on placards in street protests.

    Does this have anything to do with that? No.

    This is not “spiking the football,” nor is it saying “in your face!” to the Arab world.

    This is running for President in the USA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  72. Michelle says:

    Where is the man who brought the photos to the media?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Michelle says:

    @Michelle: He is in hiding.

    Why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: Sounds great. But then, he’s always been great at making promises. What I’d really like is for those promises to come with notices of just when they expire.

    Remember, Obama’s promises almost always come with expiration dates. Like “I won’t appoint any lobbyists,” “I’ll take public campaign funding,” “I’ll close Guantanamo,” “I won’t issue signing statements,” and… well, you get the idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  75. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s utterly normal for politicians to end up not doing everything they say they’ll do. Welcome to Earth. And if you look at the whole picture, instead of cherry-picking, you can see that he’s done pretty well.

    Also, learn how to use quote marks honestly. They are supposed to indicate actual words that an actual person actually said. You offered four ‘quotes’ and this many of them are real: zero. A number that also reflects how much credibility you have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  76. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But then, he’s always been great at making promises. What I’d really like is for those promises to come with notices of just when they expire.

    Well, what’s great about our system of government is that it’s so easy for any president to keep all of his/her promises, and that’s because any president can do what he/she wants without regard to the other branches of government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  77. mantis says:

    What, you don’t think President Romney will spike the football when he saves Czechoslovakia?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  78. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: Sorry, but a former Constitutional Law professor and then-sitting United States Senator does not get to plead ignorance on the limits of presidential power vis-a-vis a recalcitrant legislature. Especially when said individual has his entire first two years with a Congress solidly in his own party’s hands.

    Further, none of the four examples I cited actually were subject to any Republican interference. The Republicans didn’t force him to forgo public funding for his campaign, the Republicans didn’t make him issue signing statements, the Republicans didn’t make him appoint lobbyists to key positions, and the Republicans aren’t keeping Guantanamo open.

    Why, it’s almost as if I anticipated your lame response and chose my examples carefully…

    Wanna try again, sport? I got another foot, you got another butt-cheek…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  79. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, lord, I apologize for the fracked-up formatting. Lemme try again…

    @al-Ameda: Sorry, but a former Constitutional Law professor and then-sitting United States Senator does not get to plead ignorance on the limits of presidential power vis-a-vis a recalcitrant legislature. Especially when said individual has his entire first two years with a Congress solidly in his own party’s hands.

    Further, none of the four examples I cited actually were subject to any Republican interference. The Republicans didn’t force him to forgo public funding for his campaign, the Republicans didn’t make him issue signing statements, the Republicans didn’t make him appoint lobbyists to key positions, and the Republicans aren’t keeping Guantanamo open.

    Why, it’s almost as if I anticipated your lame response and chose my examples carefully…

    Wanna try again, sport? I got another foot, you got another butt-cheek…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  80. An Interested Party says:

    Sorry, but a former Constitutional Law professor and then-sitting United States Senator does not get to plead ignorance on the limits of presidential power vis-a-vis a recalcitrant legislature.

    Actually, al-Ameda was making that argument, not the President… of course it is easy to perform an alleged ass-kicking against a strawman…and since elections are all about making a choice and you have hitched yourself to Mr. Etch-A-Sketch’s post, you really have no business criticizing the President until you can explain your own man’s flip-flops…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  81. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: It probably escaped your notice, but I was talking about promises Candidate Obama made back before he was elected. And I specifically cited examples where Candidate Obama made very clear promises… and deliberately chose to break them.

    I understand why you want to bring Romney into the argument, as it would distract from pointing out how your guy basically lied his way into office, but that ain’t relevant. The issue here is Obama’s mouth running away from him. Nice try, though.

    And as others have noted, it’s Clinton who actually questions whether Romney would have had the guts to order the raid on Bin Laden. That makes sense — Clinton was offered Bin Laden, and didn’t have the guts to accept him, so he’d be an expert on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  82. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It obviously escaped your notice, but you were responding to al-Ameda’s point about a recalcitrant legislature, so your argument about pleading ignorance on the limits of presidential power was a strawman, as it wasn’t the President but al-Ameda making that point…

    I understand why you want to bring Romney into the argument, as it would distract from pointing out how your guy basically lied his way into office, but that ain’t relevant.

    The hell it ain’t, as Romney will be the person running against the President, so it is quite relevant to compare these two choices…

    That makes sense — Clinton was offered Bin Laden, and didn’t have the guts to accept him, so he’d be an expert on that.

    Yeah, his lacking of guts was something he shared with the Republican who succeeded him in the Oval Office, but that sharing didn’t continue with the man who succeeded that Republican…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  83. Hey Norm says:

    “…Clinton was offered Bin Laden, and didn’t have the guts to accept him, so he’d be an expert on that…”

    Just more lies.
    If you have to lie…repeatedly…to make your point it ain’t much of a point to begin with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  84. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Oh but we agree, right? A president, ANY president, can fulfill all promises, that’s what our system is all about.

    I’ll let you obsess on campaign promises, I’ll remain focused on the realities of our political system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  85. the Q says:

    “Conservatives no longer inhabit consensual reality. They live in the Matrix, plugged in to a propaganda machine that feeds and waters their prejudices night and day. They live in a world where the economy was going just great until Obama took over……”

    Mr. Reynolds, your writing has never been better than satuirday’s comments.

    This is powerful stuff when repeated directly to a wingnut who stammers on about how Obama is “destroying” America.

    Just rhetorically paraphrase your comments by stating “so the economy was going great under bush etc”

    Unless these repubs are brainwashed dolts, its hard for them to continually deny reality.

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  86. Davebo says:

    Has anyone seen James Joyner and Andrea Saul in the same room at the same time?

    Romney’s spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, responded in a statement that Obama was using the anniversary of bin Laden’s death as “a cheap political ploy” that she said distorted Romney’s policies on fighting terrorism.

    So did Andrea get the idea from James or vice-versa?

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  87. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: Norm, once again you call me a liar with nothing to back it up. I’d threaten to sue you, but fortunately your word is worthless and no one with any sense gives you any credibility.

    In February 2002, at a luncheon speech, Clinton himself stated that in October of 1996, the government of Sudan offered to extradite Bin Laden to the US. Clinton admits that he turned down the offer. And the Times of London reports that there were at least two other opportunities for Clinton to get Bin Laden, and he turned all three down.

    Tell me… when reality comes and knocks on your door, do you have the slightest clue who’s there?

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  88. Jenos Idanian says:

    Here, let me focus on a single point: the biggest problem with the ad isn’t Obama rhetorically pointing to Bin Laden’s head on his wall, it’s Bill Clinton saying Romney wouldn’t have had the balls to do what Obama did. That takes it from questionable into grotesque.

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  89. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    the biggest problem with the ad isn’t Obama rhetorically pointing to Bin Laden’s head on his wall, it’s Bill Clinton saying Romney wouldn’t have had the balls to do what Obama did. That takes it from questionable into grotesque.

    Yeah, “doesn’t have what it takes to make the tough decisions” is a horrible, disgusting, beyond the pale campaign message. No one has ever used that before!

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  90. jukeboxgrad says:

    In February 2002, at a luncheon speech, Clinton himself stated that in October of 1996, the government of Sudan offered to extradite Bin Laden to the US. Clinton admits that he turned down the offer.

    Which might have something to do with this:

    What is not in dispute at all is the fact that, in early 1996, American officials regarded Osama bin Laden as a financier of terrorism and not as a mastermind largely because, at the time, there was no real evidence that bin Laden had harmed American citizens. So even if the Sudanese government really did offer to hand bin Laden over, the U.S. would have had no grounds for detaining him. In fact, the Justice Department did not secure an indictment against bin Laden until 1998 – at which point Clinton did order a cruise missile attack on an al Qaeda camp in an attempt to kill bin Laden.

    Sorry to confuse you with the facts.

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  91. jukeboxgrad says:

    Yeah, “doesn’t have what it takes to make the tough decisions” is a horrible, disgusting, beyond the pale campaign message. No one has ever used that before!

    Speaking of beyond the pale: this is a good moment to recall that Cheney accused Obama of projecting “weakness,” and of being willing to give “aid and comfort to the enemy” (which is another way of saying ‘treason’).

    Of course this is the same Cheney who dodged the draft by getting his wife pregnant, and who failed to get OBL. Yet another example of extraordinary GOP chutzpah.

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  92. anjin-san says:

    at which point Clinton did order a cruise missile attack on an al Qaeda camp in an attempt to kill bin Laden.

    And who can forget the howls of protest from the GOP when Clinton attacked Al-Qaeda? Wag the dog!

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  93. matt says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah I remember the howling about wag the dog since the movie hadn’t been out long..

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