Diminishing the office: Obama and credit for killing Bin Laden — Updated

**Posted by Phineas

This week marks the one-year anniversary since Seal Team Six sent Osama bin Laden to Hell. It also marks the time when a president who has little else to run on (and plenty to run from) touts his role in terminating the al Qaeda chief, promoting that as a reason to reelect him.

Now, I’m not one to say Obama cannot cite the Abbottabad raid; it was ultimately his responsibility as president, whether it succeeded or failed, so he has every right to list it as an accomplishment. But the way he has gone about it has been unseemly, crass, and beneath the president’s role as Chief of State and Commander in Chief, going so far as to smear his presumptive opponent, Mitt Romney, with the accusation that he would not have had the nerve to order the raid. An accusation like that is beneath contempt (1).

My blog-buddy ST has already written about how the tawdry manner in which Obama is exploiting the Abbottabad operation is raising the ire of former and serving Special Forces soldiers. Meanwhile, in an article for the WSJ, former federal judge and former US Attorney General (2) Michael Mukasey analyses how Obama claimed credit while dodging responsibility for the operation and then compares his self-aggrandizement to the manner in which prior wartime leaders have handled similar matters.

Mukasey begins with the almost giddy rush of the administration to gloat over the operation, showing almost no regard for the vast intelligence captured by telling the world we had it and thus alerting the enemy, and also naming SEAL Team 6, possibly leaving them exposed to a fatal revenge attack weeks later. All that is worth reading, but what I want to focus on is his comparison of the words of Obama at the time to operation’s announcement with those of Presidents Lincoln and George W. Bush, and General Eisenhower at similarly dramatic moments. First, President Obama:

“I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority . . . even as I continued our broader effort. . . . Then, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community I was briefed . . . I met repeatedly with my national security team . . . And finally last week I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action. . . . Today, at my direction . . .”

President “I won” in his full glory.

Obama once said he’d like to be compared to Lincoln. Mukasey takes him up on that, compares Obama’s statement to the speech Lincoln gave upon announcing Lee’s surrender, thus effectively ending the Civil War, and finds him wanting. Compare the quote above to what Lincoln said to the assembled crowd:

We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing, be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To Gen. Grant, his skilful officers, and brave men, all belongs. The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part.

The 16th president of the United States, rendering full glory to others.

On D-Day, General (and future president) Eisenhower prepared a message for the landing’s success that exhibited a similar nobility of spirit:

“One week ago this morning there was established through your coordinated efforts our first foothold in northwestern Europe. High as was my preinvasion confidence in your courage, skill and effectiveness . . . your accomplishments . . . have exceeded my brightest hopes.

And Mukasey cites excerpts from George W. Bush’s statement upon the capture of Saddam Hussein:

He called that success “a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq.” He attributed it to “the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator’s footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks.”

When Ike and W did mention themselves, it was only to speak of their pride in those who did the real work.

On the flip side, taking responsibility for failure, Mukasey contrasts the carefully crafted orders for the Abbottabad raid that would have left blame with the admiral in charge to the statements of Lincoln and Eisenhower, accepting responsibility for the failures of those below them. To this, we can add George W. Bush’s forthrightness in 2006, when he made himself accountable for the difficulties and failures to that point in Iraq, refusing to blame others.

Contrast these three leaders with Barack Obama’s careful shielding of himself from any responsibility, followed by his brassy “me and only me” spiking of the ball, and you’ll see just how the current incumbent not only diminishes the office he holds, but is also himself diminished by comparison to Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Bush.

Those three were Chiefs of State and Commanders in Chief.

Obama is just a cheap Chicago pol.

(1) Romney’s right. Even Jimmy Carter would have ordered the hit.
(2) And a real AG, not the cheap, corrupt knockoff we have in the office, now.

UPDATE: And right on cue, he proves my point — “Obama to address nation on the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death from Afghanistan.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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