President Obama deployed the one person who had Osama bin Laden in his sites and failed to order his killing (Bill Clinton) to claim that Mitt Romney wouldn’t, when presented with the fruits of years of intelligence under the George W. Bush administration (as Obama was), order bin Laden’s assassination. The suggestion was so preposterous that not even mainstream media were sympathetic when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) unleashed a torrent of condemnation. A sample: “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.’ ” He then went on to condemn the hard strategic decisions that Obama shrank from during his presidency:
He turned his back on the people of Iran when they rose up to end their tyrannical, terrorist-supporting, Holocaust-denying government, giving them no assistance as they were crushed in the streets.
He has repeatedly thrown our ally Israel under the bus and jeopardized our shared security interests.
He tried to bring Khaled Sheikh Muhammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and other Al-Qaeda terrorists into the middle of New York City to stand trial in a civilian court.
He disregarded the advice of his military commanders and pulled all of our troops out of Iraq, and Al-Qaeda is making a comeback there as a result.
He disregarded the advice of his military commanders again by telling our enemies that we are leaving Afghanistan and then putting our mission and our troops at risk by short-changing our commanders on the ground.
He watches passively while the Assad regime in Syria, Iran’s closest ally, kills thousands of its own people in an unfair fight, and his response to this mass atrocity is to create an ‘Atrocities Prevention Board.’
McCain forgot Obama’s backing of Hugo Chavez’s stooge in Honduras, savaging the defense budget and our appeasement of Vladimir Putin (“reset” in Obama-ese).
There are few couple of takeaways here. Two of these have to do with insufficient precision and aggressiveness by the Romney camp, which apparently has its new national security spokesman in an undisclosed location. (Why hire an experienced national security spokesperson who knows this stuff inside and out and then not use him?)
First, only a man as sleazy as Clinton could be enlisted for such an ad. No Democrat with a future would want to use such an outrageous charge and in turn take the abuse being heaped upon the ad. Bill Clinton infamously used race against Obama in 2008 and now stoops to this to attack Romney. A new low for an ex-president
Second, the ad is false. A short review of Romney’s original bin Laden comments from which the clip was taken plainly shows that Romney was saying we should get bin Laden, but needed to do more — create a comprehensive plan to fight jihadism. Recall that in 2008 (A good discussion can be found here.) Why didn’t the Romney team put this out? You got me.
Third, it was smart for Romney to deploy a surrogate via the Republican National Committee to respond to this vile attack; he should not lower himself to respond.
However, there is a problem with McCain’s response, and there would have been good reason to pick another spokesman. The reason, in part, Obama’s victory lap and smear of Romney are so offensive is that had Obama been president, he tells us, he would not have ordered enhanced interrogation techniques that provided leads that eventually led to bin Laden’s killing. Romney has been clear (both in 2008 and 2012 debates) that he does not consider enhanced interrogation techniques to be torture and would have done what is necessary to get information from Khalid Sheik Mohammed to save lives, and yes, to hunt down bin Laden. (McCain was on the other side of the issue so is precisely the wrong surrogate in this instance.) Ironic, that Obama would accuse Romney of rotten judgment and moral cowardice, isn’t it? Obama will take the victory lap (again and again) but never do the hard work of governing. (Obama effectively got the lay-up after the Bush administration and our national security official gave him the ball.) A metaphor for his presidency, no?
Obama is big on moral grandstanding (Close Gitmo! Help Syrians! Stop loading kids with debt!), but when it comes to risking support from the left or doing what it takes when it is not popular (e.g., the surge in Iraq) he’s AWOL. What an embarrassment he is.