Politics blows me away sometimes. I just wrote a post about all of the inaccurate and improper assertions that are being made by both presidential campaigns. The day after writing that post, I encounter a flurry of stories in the news about people criticizing the Obama campaign for raising an “improper” issue: the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The Obama campaign produced a video depicting President Clinton praising President Obama’s decision to send in the Navy SEALS:
High profile individuals from both sides of the political aisle have criticized the ad for politicizing the event. Some of the most boisterous criticisms have come from Arianna Huffington, Candy Crowley, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Those criticisms can be found here, here, here and here.
But it is absolutely appropriate for President Obama to campaign on his decision to take out bin Laden.
First of all, the American people view the killing of bin Laden as a major success. In fact, when polled, Americans have rated the killing of bin Laden as the biggest success of President Obama’s first term. So, President Obama has not “politicized the issue,” as critics claim. The issue was already political, illustrated by the fact that voters think that it is important and judge President Obama accordingly. The Obama campaign merely reminded voters of what many see as President Obama’s biggest success.
Second, one of the president’s jobs is to make difficult decisions in pressure situations when people’s lives are on the line. That is why Hillary Clinton’s phone call ad from 2008 was a legitimate ad. Voters should consider how presidential candidates would make tough decisions like that.
In fact, President Obama has constantly faced criticism about being weak, indecisive and soft since 2007. Just three days ago at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Jimmy Kimmel ridiculed President Obama for being soft.
It is rare in politics to have empirical proof that an opponent’s argument is absolutely wrong. But this is such a case. In every presidential election that I can remember, the Republican candidate has campaigned on being the candidate that will be more willing to make tough, aggressive decisions to defend the American people. This time, there is no way that Romney can credibly make that argument. The decision to send in the SEALS is proof.
Third, killing bin Laden was a victory. It is like President Obama threw the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl and people criticize him for taking credit for winning the game. All of the other people involved, particularly the military branches involved and even some members of the Bush administration deserve credit as well. But President Obama’s role was still instrumental.
From 1941 to 1945, Japan was the number one enemy of the United States. Why? Because Japan started a war by attacking Pearl Harbor. The US won that war and celebrated. The Soviet Union was the number one enemy of the United States from 1945 to 1989. Why? Because the Soviet Union made it clear that it wanted to destroy the US as a world power. The US won the Cold War and celebrated. The number one enemy of the United States from 2001 to 2011 was Osama bin Laden. The enemy was not a religion; it was not a country; it was one man. That man threw down a gauntlet. He said, “I am going to mess you up, and there is nothing you can do about it.” He killed 3,000 innocent Americans. President Obama hunted him down and killed him.
You’re damn right you should celebrate that accomplishment, President Obama. You did your job. You hunted down the number one enemy of the United States of America, a man with the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands, and you defeated him. Puff your chest out. Brush your shoulder off. Make all the campaign commercials you want. America won because of you.