Osama Part of Obama’s Campaign Pitch

Not surprisingly, having ordered a successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden is being highlighted on President Obama's re-election tour.

Not surprisingly, having ordered a successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden is being highlighted on President Obama’s re-election tour.

LAT (“Bin Laden death now part of Obama’s re-elect message“):

Osama bin Laden, mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, is now an applause line in a presidential campaign speech.

Bin Laden’s name came up a couple of times in Obama’s address Tuesday evening at a fund-raising event in Austin, Texas.

Early in Obama’s appearance, someone shouted out, “Thank you for getting Bin Laden!”

Obama said that was a “case in point” – a reason for voters to let him “finish what we started.”

Later, Obama ticked off what he described as his administration’s accomplishments: lifting the ban on gays in the military; bringing troops home from Iraq.

And then: “And because of the extraordinary bravery of the men and women who wear this nation’s uniform and the outstanding work of our intelligence agencies,” Obama said, “Osama bin Laden will never again threaten the United States.”

The crowd roared.

The president and his team were careful to share credit and avoid triumphalism in the immediate aftermath of the mission. One doesn’t want to be seen gloating over death nor taking too much credit for what was, at the end of the day, a team effort. But it’s a significant, palpable achievement. It was inevitable that it would become an applause line in his stump speeches.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    Just don’t call it a “victory lap” or “spiking the football.”

    No matter how much it looks like it.

    J.

  2. Tom Mathers says:

    I bet the “ticking off” accomplishments part of the speech was short. Need to maximize the demagogue time.

  3. Bleev K says:

    Right, J, I guess the world was so much better when Osama was alive… You got it in the ass, live with it.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Republicans mourn the loss of their nonsense narrative. It’s so much harder now to cast Obama as (fill in your favorite racist’s euphemism here) or (your favorite wimp euphemism here.)

  5. Reagan had the “Bear In The Woods” ad during the 1984 re-elect. This is far, far from unusual.

  6. Jay Tea says:

    Bleev, I didn’t come up with those phrases. And I specifically said that they shouldn’t be used.

    But does this mean we can once again mock and deride and criticize the absolutely amateur way the Obama administration handled the whole situation AFTER Bin Laden was killed?

    J.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Jay… feel free to hang your 2012 hat on “they botched the PR”.

    Well, it’s probably a better bet than anyone taking a hard look at the GOP candidates…

  8. sam says:

    @Jay

    “But does this mean we can once again mock and deride and criticize the absolutely amateur way the Obama administration handled the whole situation AFTER Bin Laden was killed?”

    OK, Snooks, y’all run with that.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    Well, Sam, was Bin Laden armed or not? Did he use his wife as a shield, or did she charge the SEALs on her own? Was she even his wife? Was the helicopter crash an accident, mechanical failure, or ground fire? Was Pakistan involved or not? Was Pakistan notified or not?

    Each version is consistent with White House statements at various times.

    Plus, it was incredibly stupid to brag about just how much incredible intelligence we gathered — computers, flash drives, documents, everything. Even the details of how Bin Laden had money and phone numbers sewn into his clothing — nothing like telling the enemy just how much info we gained in the raid.

    The smartest thing to do, in my book, would be to cap off the raid with a bomb or cruise missile flattening the whole site (after evacuating all survivors) to deny as much intelligence to the other sides as possible, and even then sit on the information for a few days to see what kind of “chatter” develops. Let them wonder and worry about who we killed and who we captured, what sorts of intelligence and evidence we gathered vs. blew up, and talk amongst themselves for a few days before we spell out precisely what we did. All those potential advantages and intelligence, all wasted, because Obama had to go out on TV (pre-empting Donald Trump, I’m sure, on the weekend of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner broke all tradition and united to trash a guest who had no chance to speak up himself — an astonishing coincidence, I’m sure) and say “I got him.”

    Said bomb/missile, it must be worth noting, would also likely have destroyed that tail rotor that Pakistan is threatening to give to the Chinese.

    Sam, I’m sure you meant that “run with that” sarcastically and rhetorically, but you opened the door for me to accept your invitation.

    J.

  10. sam says:

    “Well, Sam, was Bin Laden armed or not? Did he use his wife as a shield, or did she charge the SEALs on her own? Was she even his wife? Was the helicopter crash an accident, mechanical failure, or ground fire? Was Pakistan involved or not? Was Pakistan notified or not?”

    Well, Jay, does the average voter really care about all that? The problem with the blogosphere, both right and left, is that you guys think folks out in the real world really give a shit about bytestorms you folks think are sooooo important.

  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    But does this mean we can once again mock and deride and criticize the absolutely amateur way the Obama administration handled the whole situation AFTER Bin Laden was killed?

    Absolutely. Let’s see how much traction that gets you.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    Plus, it was incredibly stupid to brag about just how much incredible intelligence we gathered — computers, flash drives, documents, everything. Even the details of how Bin Laden had money and phone numbers sewn into his clothing — nothing like telling the enemy just how much info we gained in the raid.

    You’re right. Most of Al Qaeda was probably assuming that we left every one of his computers completely untouched and that no information escaped. Announcing that we have his computers and we knew he had money in his clothing totally negates our intelligence coup. And I’m sure the CIA (or whatever intelligence service is handling analyzing the intelligence) would never filter their announcements of what they had grabbed, as they have never ever had to deal with situations like this.

    pre-empting Donald Trump, I’m sure, on the weekend of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner broke all tradition and united to trash a guest who had no chance to speak up himself — an astonishing coincidence, I’m sure

    My liberal newsletter (we all get one from joint White House/MoveOn letterhead) told me it wasn’t a coincidence. The Navy tots wanted Obama to wait until Donald was finished with his show, but Obama–being the jerkwad that he is–decided that he needed to interrupt the show for maximum impact against Donald.

    I mean the alternative explanation was that when something of this caliber happens, you break into whatever damn show is on regardless. But that would be a ridiculous explanation, wouldn’t it.

    Man, you guys are really showing your butthurt.

  13. Herb says:

    “was Bin Laden armed or not? Did he use his wife as a shield, or did she charge the SEALs on her own? Was she even his wife? Was the helicopter crash an accident, mechanical failure, or ground fire? Was Pakistan involved or not? Was Pakistan notified or not?”

    These questions are best answered over time with scholarly study by military historians. Expect a book, maybe even by Mark Bowden, to explain these details in the next couple of years.

    Don’t expect the 24 hour news channels, in the heat of live updates and clarifications, to get it right. There are reasons this information is obscured and “the White House screwed up the PR” isn’t the most plausible or the most likely.

    Besides, let me just put this out there for you to consider before we get 3 more years of conspiracy theories…..

    Attacking Obama on the Bin Laden killing is not going to work. It just won’t. As James says, it’s “a significant, palpable achievement,” and it might be best for his opponents to just acknowledge that and talk about something else…like how they’re going to take away Grandma’s medicine.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    My my…how sour the grapes are tasting to some people…

  15. mantis says:

    But does this mean we can once again mock and deride

    Was something stopping you? Oh, it’s just Jay again pretending someone is preventing him from spewing his crap. No one is, Jay. Go right ahead.

  16. Jay Tea says:

    Why, thank you, mantis. You’re most kind. With that gracious invitation, I’ll continue.

    Herb, the things I pointed out above aren’t screwups. Well, OK, they are, but you’re right — they’re not really problems.

    What they are are symptoms. They are symptoms of missed opportunities.

    Had we kept the raid quiet for a while, had we pulled a Carthage on the compound, and then said nothing, we would have created a hell of a situation for Al Qaeda and the ISI. They’d have to try to figure out just what happened — and that would have led to frantic communications back and forth.

    Frantic people make mistakes. They mess up operational security. And they tend to both overestimate and underestimate what really went down.

    “Damn, those Americans have eyes everywhere! They could be watching me right now! But Sheikh Osama, he was very crafty and very cunning and very wise. He probably destroyed the whole building when the infidels invaded, martyring himself and taking all of them with him to keep our operation safe. He would not have been so foolhardy to keep our most important secrets, and took care to make sure they would never fall into the infidels’ hands.”

    Might have happened, might not have happened. We won’t know, ‘cuz Obama had to make sure everyone knew we got Bin Laden and all his secrets.

    We might have been able to roll up even more of the network, even faster, if he hadn’t needed his victory lap and spike the football. But it was a tradeoff — I’m sure the value we got out of sacrificing that opportunity was worth it.

    …just what did we get for it, anyway?

    J.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    It’s kind of sad to watch. Little Jay T had all his toys broken. Now he sits in a corner of the playroom trying to stick the arms back in his action figures.

    Poor baby.

  18. anjin-san says:

    No reed to slender, eh Jay? Between your “shout into the well” strategy and the prayer vigils for $6 gas you are really on a roll.

  19. TG Chicago says:

    The “botched” post-bin Laden-killing PR consisted of a few statements that got corrected within days.

    Contrast that to the lengthy misinformation campaigns around Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.

  20. mantis says:

    Why, thank you, mantis. You’re most kind. With that gracious invitation, I’ll continue.

    Wait, I was wrong! The thought police are headed your way. Run!

    Had we kept the raid quiet for a while, had we pulled a Carthage on the compound, and then said nothing, we would have created a hell of a situation for Al Qaeda and the ISI. They’d have to try to figure out just what happened — and that would have led to frantic communications back and forth.

    Yeah, they would be totally confused about what happened! Crazy near-silent helicopters swooped in and killed bin Laden. Who could it have been?

    Guess what, Jay. Frantic communications surely took place. What possible reason could you have for thinking they didn’t?

    “Damn, those Americans have eyes everywhere! They could be watching me right now! But Sheikh Osama, he was very crafty and very cunning and very wise. He probably destroyed the whole building when the infidels invaded, martyring himself and taking all of them with him to keep our operation safe. He would not have been so foolhardy to keep our most important secrets, and took care to make sure they would never fall into the infidels’ hands.”

    There were witnesses, dufus. Or are you suggesting we should have killed the women and children too, for the sake of creating confusion?

    We won’t know, ‘cuz Obama had to make sure everyone knew we got Bin Laden and all his secrets.

    Again, everyone would have known that anyway.

    …just what did we get for it, anyway?

    A pissed off Al Qaeda working frantically to counterattack, with us listening in.

    Face it, Jay. The only reason you have these objections is a Democrat sits in the White House. If bin Laden had been killed under Bush, you would have fallen all over yourself to proclaim the brilliance of every detail.

  21. Herb says:

    just what did we get for it, anyway?

    I’m sure this will all be clear when you read Bowden’s book, Killing Bin Laden: Stealth Helicopter Down, available on Kindle and serialized in the Atlantic, in 2014.

    Until then….consider this: Killing Bin Laden, even without gathering all this intelligence, is its own reward.

  22. Nikki says:

    I suppose a reply to Jay Tea consisting solely of “BWAHAHAHALULZ!!1!!” would be counterproductive and perceived to be in bad form, huh?

  23. Jay Tea says:

    Face it, mantis. This is a double-whammy. Not only is someone finding fault with Teh Won, but it’s me pointing it out. You can’t let that stand. No matter how much common sense you have to sacrifice in the process.

    J.

  24. Jay Tea says:

    Herb, it’ll have to be. And absolutely, it was great. But it could have been even better, if the Obama administration had a clue about anything beyond self-promotion and the 2012 elections.

    J.

  25. mantis says:

    You can try to make it about me if you want, but it’s quite clear you are desperately grasping at any way to attack the president for successfully taking out bin Laden. Your reasoning makes no sense, and it’s rather pathetic.

    Not only is someone finding fault with Teh Won

    I’m sorry, am I supposed to know what that means? I’m not fluent in wingnut.

    but it’s me pointing it out.

    Yes, I’m very upset about your ridiculously thin and desperate criticisms. What will happen if we don’t stop Jay Tea from criticizing the killing of bin Laden? He’ll ruin everything!

  26. An Interested Party says:

    ODS is not a pretty thing to observe, but, I guess it is to be expected of teabaggers…

  27. Alex Knapp says:

    Jay,

    Do you know anything about counterintel or law enforcement AT ALL?

    The info on bin Laden’s computers might be encrypted. It might take days to crack. It might be coded. The info might be weeks, months, decades old.

    By annoucning they have the computers, the CIA virtually guarantees that al-Qaeda operatives are going to go into desperation mode. They’re going to have to, VERY QUICKLY, change codes, scuttle operations, try to cover up their activities, etc etc.

    When people try to cover their tracks in a hurry, they make mistakes. And that’s when you catch them.

    Hiding the fact that you have intel only makes sense if NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT THE OPERATION. But there was NO WAY we weren’t going to announce that we killed bin Laden. Once that’s blown, everything is out in the open and people are going to start running for cover. The more we can do to ENCOURAGE al-Qaeda to run for cover, the more mistakes get made.

    The more mistakes, the more likely of catching bad guys.

    Good lord, you don’t have to be an expert to know this. You just have to have a passing familiarity with primetime cop shows.

  28. wr says:

    Oh, Alex, you’re so naive. The only intelligent thing to do would have been to kill Osama and then cover it up completely, refusing to let anyone know, and thus reap the intelligence bonanza. That’s what Bush did, after all. You never saw him announcing we’d killed Osama. His administration managed to keep it entirely silent.

  29. hey norm says:

    Veering back on topic…can’t you imagine the victory lap the Bushies would be taking had they managed to actually do what they said they were going to do…close your eyes and you can see W. with his well-used cod-piece and borrowed flight suit strutting around the deck of an aircraft carrier under a red, white, and blue sign that says “Mission Accomplished……Again“.

    According to Jon Stewart…sadly, the greatest journalist of our time…there were no less than 11 Bushies making the rounds of the Sunday shows trying to take credit for killing OBL. Sad really. Pathetic even.

    Republicans right now are about three things and three things only – tax cuts for the rich, torture, and the absolute control of all uteruses.

  30. sam says:

    To keep all of Jay’s “analyses” in proper perspective, we should understand that he thinks that most, if not all, of Obama’s actions are predicated on Obama’s desire to get impeached. This includes going after OBL (comments).

  31. anjin-san says:

    “teh won”. Hmm. Sounds kinda like the slang dem negros use. I am sure it is just an astonishing coincidence…

  32. wr says:

    Jay Tea: ” But it could have been even better, if the Obama administration had a clue about anything beyond self-promotion and the 2012 elections.”

    And top secret military operations to track down and kill the terrorist who plotted and ordered the 9/11 attacks. They apparently had a clue about that, too, unlike the previous administration.

  33. anjin-san says: