Suffice it to say that when David Brooks, my colleague Dana Milbank and President George W. Bush’s attorney general Michael Mukasey all agree that President Obama is going overboard on partisanship, the president might want to reconsider if he’s misjudged the public’s appetite for partisanship.
Brooks bemoans the tenor of the entire campaign, but this is as tough a rebuke of the president as he has leveled: “Part of the ad was Bill Clinton effectively talking about the decision to kill the terrorist. But, in the middle, the Obama people threw in a low-minded attack on Romney. The slam made Clinton look small, it made Obama look small, it turned a moment of genuine accomplishment into a political ploy, but it did follow the rules of gangland: At every second attack, at every opportunity, drive a shiv between the ribs.” From philosopher-king to thug in less than four years. It’s something when those who once held you in the highest esteem are now the most biting critics.
Mukasey objects to the Osama bin Laden ad, writing:
Consider the events surrounding the operation. A recently disclosed memorandum from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta shows that the president’s celebrated derring-do in authorizing the operation included a responsibility-escape clause: “The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out.”
Which is to say, if the mission went wrong, the fault would be Adm. McRaven’s, not the president’s. Moreover, the president does not seem to have addressed at all the possibility of seizing material with intelligence value—which may explain his disclosure immediately following the event not only that bin Laden was killed, but also that a valuable trove of intelligence had been seized, including even the location of al Qaeda safe-houses. That disclosure infuriated the intelligence community because it squandered the opportunity to exploit the intelligence that was the subject of the boast.
He goes on to chide Obama for being a credit hog, comparing him unfavorably to Presidents Bush and Abraham Lincoln as well as General Dwight D. Eisenhower. But we already knew Obama is no Bush, Lincoln or Eisenhower. A man who writes his memoirs before accomplishing anything in life is not one given to fits of modesty.
Dana tells us Obama is making him “queasy because his nonstop campaigning is looking, well, sleazy — and his ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have killed Osama bin Laden is just the beginning of it.” He asks, “Shouldn’t presidential leadership be about setting an example?”
Well, Obama’s been making many Americans nauseous for some time by his inclination to treat the presidency like the oppo research headquarters in a Chicago mayoral election. There is no target to absurd, too big, too small or too irrelevant for the president to attack. When his list of targets includes the Koch brothers, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, oil and gas companies, mysterious energy speculators, Republicans who want you to breath dirty air and unclean water, President Bush, the 24/7 news cycle, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and 4000 millionaires who are standing between you and affordable college you realize he’s got more excuses than achievements. For a guy who was supposed to bring us together, he sure doesn’t get along with anyone whose not already a cheerleader for his policies.
An opponent to an incumbent president usually has trouble making up the stature gap. In Obama’s case, however, he’s done a lot of Romney’s work for him. By lowering the bar for “presidential” so far, you imagine that Romney should be able to hop over it without much effort.
Moreover, if Obama’s most loyal constituencies, the mainstream media and liberal elites, find him to be, well, an embarrassment, you have to wonder how he’s going to inspire all those doe-eyed college kids (and other less than reliable voters who need lots of motivation) to drag themselves come hell or high water to the polls.