Gutsy Moves

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Obama Administration

As I wrote in the last post, it’s impossible to know if the death of bin Laden will have much if any impact on the 2012 elections. Eighteen or so months is an eternity in politics. The economy, for good or ill, probably will be the biggest single factor in how people choose to vote. But I think Michael Tomasky has a good point here –

First, the obvious: Obama is certainly a stronger president today than he was two days ago. I watched the ceremony today in which he bestowed posthumous medals of honor on two US servicemen who fought in the Korean war. The tributes to these two men, both of whom sacrificed their lives to save their men, would have been sincere and moving in any case.

But in the present context, I couldn’t help but think: for those families, for all the military people in that room, for all the US military people in this country and around the world, Obama has a degree of credibility now that he’d lacked before. He’s not a military man, not steeped in military culture. That’s all still true. But now it’s basically canceled out. He got bin Laden. Period stop. An utterly un-rebuttable statement of strength.

And I think we will see as more details come out, indeed as we have already seen, that a big part of this operation’s success had to do with Obama himself. The national-security meetings he ran, the questions he asked, the decisions he made. I don’t want bombs, he said; I don’t want to kill children while we do this, and I don’t want a leg there and a hand there. I want a body, and I want proof, before America and (more importantly) a possibly doubting world.

Many are pointing out that the raid, as carried out, was a politically risky move for the President. President Carter had sent special ops troops in helicopters to rescue the hostages in Iran. That mission failed big time, and the failure cemented public opinion of Carter as a hapless wimp, paving the way for the election of “tall in the saddle” Ronald Reagan.

Righties like to compare President Obama to President Carter. But now, having succeeded where Bush failed, Republicans have to adjust their rhetoric or risk appearing ridiculous.

Jonathan Martin wrote,

The arc of the last week illustrated what so many Republicans fear may prevent them from re-capturing the White House next year. In the span of 100 hours, the spectacle of a national discussion over President Obama’s long-form birth certificate—sparked by the pronouncements of a real estate developer who doubles as a reality show celebrity—gave way to a moment of utmost seriousness, defined by the president’s somber delivery of history-making news.

The GOP establishment, Martin says, hopes that the week’s events will sober up the field and drive out the “clown candidates.” There’s a Republican primary debate in South Carolina on Thursday and it will be interesting to see what the candidates do.

The larger point is that, while the death of bin Laden might not be a front-burner issue in 2012, it certainly has changed the trajectory of U.S. politics in President Obama’s favor.

See also Dan Froomkin, “Obama Succeeded Where Bush Failed.”

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  May 3, 2011 @12:08 pm

    This is how ADULTS make decisions. Carefully and thoughfully, with a hard look at possilbe outcomes, both positive and negative.
    This wasn’t the craven, simpering cowards in ‘The Bush Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,’ constantly wringing out their wet Depends and deciding to torture anyone and everyone possible in a total surrender to their own fears, and to hide their own incompetence.

    It was intelligence, not torture that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Something that the Bush Mis-administration neither had, nor believed in, nor used.
    And yes, it took guts on Obama’s part. If you see the BS coming from the right after a SUCCESSFUL mission, can you imagine what would have happened if it failed? Impeachment hearing would have been arranged seconds after the announcement of a failed effort. Never mind that we had 7 years of failed efforts to capture or kill bin Laden from the Bush Crime Junta, and almost another full year of a war on logic and the middle class, before Bush’s ill-fateful “War on Terra!”
    This country will never be able to erase the stain of the 8 Bush years. The ‘mission was not accomplished’ 8 years after the stupid “Mission Accomplished” banner was unfurled on that US aircraft carrier to make Bush the stupid and cowardly loser look like a brave winner and leader. No, the ‘mission’s not accomplished,’ but at least the leader and architect of the gang of thugs who’ve hijacked a religion is no longer around and able to broadcast his vile image across the world – even if only as a figurehead. Osama bin Laden is no more.
    To make himself look bigger, Bush needed his enemies to be super evildoing villains. And all it took was an intelligent man using intelligence, and a smart team, to prove that bin Laden was no evil super villain – just a sick and twisted, evil and mortal man. Obama, not needing to salve his own ego, or make himself a more important, bigger man, did what he felt he had to do, after careful consideration. And he didn’t stumble, mumble, or bumble, like his cowardly, imbecilic predecessor.
    Being against capital punisment, I might have preferred that bin Laden be brought in alive to face justice. But, in this current political climate, I can see why Obama and his staff might have decided to do what was done instead.
    I’m not 100% happy with Obama. No one is, probably least of all Obama himself. But, YET AGAIN, he’s proven to be competent, if nothing else. And after 8 years of The Three+ Stooges on acid, and their wars of error, I’m more than willing to give President Obama another 4 years. Hopefully, the majority of this nation will feel the same way. I think his most recent action may go a long way towards that.

  2. Felicity  •  May 3, 2011 @12:13 pm

    Hopefully, Republicans will continue to embarrass themselves, and their party, in their attempts to put a negative spin on all things Obama. Peter King has come out with the startling information that water-boarding by the Bush Administration was, in the final analysis, what made Sunday’s event possible. Never mind that, as usual, someone, Brennan in this case goes public with the info that that particular water-boarding had little or no bearing on Sunday’s event.

  3. khughes1963  •  May 3, 2011 @12:47 pm

    The righties probably won’t alter their delusional viewpoint any.

  4. uncledad  •  May 3, 2011 @12:49 pm

    “But now, having succeeded where Bush failed, Republicans have to adjust their rhetoric or risk appearing ridiculous”

    Risk appearing ridiculous? The dimwitted teabaggers don’t know the difference, they all watch FAUX news where the wing-nuts are always right, hell they are giving bu$hco all the credit for this anyway. Adjusting their rhetoric amounts to spewing the bullshit of Peter King, Hannity, etc. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the republicants to actually face reality, it aint never gonna happen!

  5. maha  •  May 3, 2011 @1:46 pm

    uncledad, does everything have to be spelled out for you? Nobody expects teabaggers to change their minds. It’s the independent voters who will swing the elections. With that group, perceptions weigh more than facts, but they aren’t necessarily crazy.

  6. Swami  •  May 3, 2011 @2:26 pm

    Froomkin does an excellent job of fine tuning Bush’s legacy. Because of the mercies of God my heart starts to soften toward Bush and Cheney as time passes, and I kinda view them as creatures to be pitied and forgiven…But after a refresher in memory like Froomkin provided, and I recall how Bush and Cheney reveled in their stupidity and arrogance—” OK, You covered your ass”— my heart reverts to stone as far as those two losers are concerned.

  7. Bonnie  •  May 3, 2011 @4:37 pm

    My heart will never soften toward Bush and Cheney because we have evidences of more than their failure to get bin Laden evident in life every day–the economy. However, as for Obama getting bin Laden, I am proud of him and the strategic way he went about it. I read a Mark Twain quote that helped me work out my feelings about the death of bin Laden: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” Good old Mark Twain.

  8. moonbat  •  May 3, 2011 @5:34 pm

    One of my financial advisors thinks that with Osama gone, and with Panetta going to Defense (he’s a known budget cutter), Obama will now try to wind down the Global War on Terra, and begin cutting back our world wide military empire. I believe he’s made earlier promises that we will be out of Iraq (whatever that really means) effectively by the 2012 election.

    The death of Osama bin Laden is a clear signal to the world that “al-Qaida is something in the past,” the U.S. chief of counterterrorism said Monday. John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser and chief counterterrorism coordinator, said the message could be boiled down this way: “Bin Laden, al-Qaida — old news.” - source MSNBC.

    Advisor continues:

    This statement indicates a major change is ahead for US government policy. May 1st 2011 will be like the 1989 Berlin Wall moment for the US Empire. It means the Global War on Terror is over. The Oil Wars will be scaled back. The US military will now begin to contract. This event was forced by the collapsing dollar, the threat of a US debt downgrade, a declining and angry middle class, and the necessity of federal spending cuts. It’s the beginning of fiscal restructuring in America…

    I stated in the last newsletter that Defense and Medicare are the two major sinkholes of government spending and they’d have to be addressed together…

    The term al-Qaeda was manufactured by the CIA in 2000 for a congressional hearing and this bogeyman was used to start the Oil Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This vaporous organization was blamed for the criminal actions on 9/11. Today, they have killed off al-Qadea with Osama Bin Laden’s “death”. We were told he was “gently eased into the ocean”. There’s no body because respect for Islam required disposing of his remains quickly. It’s all theater for the voters. His “demise” on the old Soviet Union’s May Day of grand spectacles means someone in the White House has a cynical sense of humor…

    I expect to see a congressional budget deal very soon. The rate of government deficit spending will begin to decline within a year….The forward momentum of the market is probably enough to get it through the 2012 election but watch out ahead.

    A budget deal will alleviate short term pressure on the dollar. The contracting American Empire will help the budget but it won’t help the dollar’s position as the world reserve currency. We could see government spending contract for years after the next election. I don’t see the dollar going up long term but maybe there’s now a brake on its rate of descent. I think precious metals may be in for a choppy time.

    This guy isn’t always right. Behind the positive tone of these comments (and the cynical tone behind OBLs “death”) is a very pessimistic view of this country, its leaders, and its prospects. But I agree with him that this country’s financials require it to scale back all its commitments, including military. Here’s hoping that with OBL gone, and some of the wind knocked out of righties’ sails, there can be some sort of “peace dividend” (if that’s the right word for it).

  9. uncledad  •  May 3, 2011 @5:40 pm

    “uncledad, does everything have to be spelled out for you”

    Certainly not, I am merely pointing out that moderate views no longer exist in the Republicant party, name one moderate, they do not exist and if they did they would never make it past the primaries. Watch FAUX for a couple hours, they cannot bring themselves to give Obama credit for anything. As far as independent voters this foreign policy triumph will be long forgotten by election time, if the economy improves Obama may get re-elected, if not he won’t. True they will look hypocritical if they continue to paint Obama as weak on terror, but has that stopped the wing-nuts thus far?

  10. maha  •  May 3, 2011 @6:21 pm

    Certainly not, I am merely pointing out that moderate views no longer exist in the Republicant party,

    And do you think anyone here doesn’t already know that? Do stop insulting everyone’s intelligence by stating the obvious.

    The question is, how might this event impact the majority of voters who are not teabaggers, in particular wavering Dems and independents? Independents often are not stupid or crazy; most often they are people who aren’t tuned into politics. Perceptions and bandwagon effects go a long way with them.

    Once again (READ CAREFULLY) I am NOT SAYING that the killing of bin Laden will be much on people’s minds in November 2012. I’m saying this event could impact the course and trajectory of the campaign and the kinds of psychological propaganda the GOP will be trying to use to suck in the independents.

    Your whining about what the wing-nuts might do is entirely beside the point. We all know they aren’t going to change. Try to keep up.

  11. maha  •  May 3, 2011 @6:56 pm

    moonbat — the part about Panetta cutting the defense budget and the wars winding down would be excellent, and I hope it happens. It makes sense.

    As far as the CIA inventing al Qaeda — I’m sure I’ve seen use of the name that pre-dates 2000.

  12. uncledad  •  May 3, 2011 @7:57 pm

    “Your whining about what the wing-nuts might do is entirely beside the point. We all know they aren’t going to change. Try to keep up”

    “Republicans have to adjust their rhetoric or risk appearing ridiculous”

  13. Doug Hughes  •  May 3, 2011 @8:38 pm

    Uncledad – Moderates still exist to a diminished degree as registered republicans, among democrats and that 3rd party without a candidate or convention – the independents. In the 2012 election, the vast majority of liberal-hating republicans will vote for Lucifer with pitchfork and tail if he’s the candidate against Obama. The vast majority of democrats will vote for Obama. The swing vote will be the moderates – none too fond of liberals or billionaires and 100% in favor of Medicare and Social Security.

    IMO, the death of bin Laden is devastating to the GOP narrative about Obama. (He’s weak, indecisive and disconnected.) Nate Silver thinks this won’t count much in 18 months with moderates who will be more concerned about domestic issues. I think Nate has this wrong. Independent voters have been voting their gut for the last 4 election cycles. To quote the sentiment from an ancient western, “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance.” The ethic may be childish, but Obama may have earned the trust of the demographic he needs, the independents. At the very least the hill for the Obama-bashers just got steeper.

  14. moonbat  •  May 3, 2011 @9:32 pm

    Help Wanted: Boogieman. “Direct all inquires to the attention of Karl or Rupert”.

  15. DoubleCinco  •  May 3, 2011 @9:58 pm

    If explicit goals are those stated up front and implicit goals are those that are inferred by what we actually do, then what is the implicit goal when Bu$hco hired two Afghan warlords, who previously worked for bin Laden, to go kill the man instead of sending Army Rangers, et al, to do it in 2003?

    Conceptually there are governance decisions in the service of the people primarily, and politics, secondarily, but I’m thinking in the modern world–not so much. If there is nothing more ominous than (Rovian) minimizing political risk in GW’s decision to not send U.S. forces to Tora Bora for OBL, no matter the down side for the U.S. and the world, then what President Obama did was man-up at personal and party political risk, go all in and see if careful thought, planning and beau coup luck pulled if off.

  16. maha  •  May 3, 2011 @10:27 pm

    “Republicans have to adjust their rhetoric or risk appearing ridiculous”

    Yes, appearing ridiculous TO THE INDEPENDENTS, you idiot.

    You’re in the moderation queue. I don’t have time to re-explain everything 20 times.

  17. moonbat  •  May 4, 2011 @9:36 am

    OT, do see the trailer for “Atlas Shrugged, Part 2″.

  18. jugheadjack  •  May 4, 2011 @9:54 am

    Thank you Mr. President for bringing justice to the American people,and particular to the victims of 9-11, and their families.

  19. goatherd  •  May 4, 2011 @12:27 pm

    Where do old narratives go to die? (It’s a trick question, they almost never die.)

    I don’t get off the farm much, but, I got to hear some analysis of the death of bin Laden at a local barber shop yesterday. Here’s the consensus that emerged:

    The media are bashing Bush.

    Bush deserves as much credit as Obama.

    Obama has endangered us because now Al Qaeda is really going to be pissed off.
    …….

    I particularly like the last two. Bush deserves half the credit for “getting his man”, but none of the blame for endangering us. It should go without saying that the consensus was not forged by “independent voters”. But, I think it makes a kind of sense.

    “Better the bogeyman you know than the one you don’t.” Bin Laden was a great bogeyman. He gave us a sense of purpose. He scared us a lot at first, but really some of us got used to having him around. Besides, we had a trio of superhero father figures to protect us. (Cowboy Man, Oil Man and Militaryspeak Man) Things had reached a kind of balance. The narrative was not only assimilated, it had become comfortable.

    Now things are all stirred up. A new bogeyman will emerge or be chosen, along with a new hero and a new “magical” device to enable him or her. But, many will cling to the old comfortable narrative with its heroes and methods. (Okay, I know I am no Joe Campbell.) The Bush administration had torture and suspension of habeas corpus as their magical devices. As astonished and dismayed as I was to see some of my fellow Americans accepting it, it really goes to show that fear is a powerful catalyst.

    The device that was successful in the hunt for bin Laden was a combination of intelligence, analysis and organization. It was a kind of “good government” approach. There was a lot of criminalogy involved before the SEAL’s went into action. For some these are pretty hard pills to swallow.

    When young children are afraid of the dark, their parents comfort them with a night light and a soft voice. As they grow up, they lose their fear of the dark, but along with that fear, they lose the sense of protection that they got from their parents. Some miss their childhood because the fears of adult life are not so easily defeated.



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