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Presidents and Pirates

"Despite the Obama administration's (and its sycophants') attempt to spin Sunday's success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort.

"What should have been a standoff lasting only hours -- as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location -- became an embarrassing four-day-and-counting standoff between a rag-tag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship."

But not everyone on the right is carping about the rescue. The WSJ editorial page gives the president his due:

"White House and Navy officials say President Obama had issued a general authorization to use force in these circumstances, and that is to his credit. With all the world watching, the U.S. Navy couldn't afford to be long stymied by sea-faring kidnappers. No doubt Mr. Obama would have been criticized in some quarters -- though not by us -- had Captain Phillips been killed once the order was given to shoot the pirates. But that is the kind of decision that has to be left with commanders on the spot."

And Rush Limbaugh didn't want Obama to fail -- on this one:

"I think we all must agree, folks, that when Obama does something right, we gotta go out there and we've got to acknowledge it. We gotta say he did a great job, and we've gotta be open-minded to the fact that Obama's going to do some good things. . . . I would like to not only jump on the bandwagon of praising President Obama for a brilliant rescue, not only a plan but its execution."

At Right Wing Nuthouse, Rick Moran sees a turning point for Obama:

"The significance here is not a 'victory' but rather that the president proved he can pull the trigger. By authorizing the use of force not once, but twice, the president showed that when American lives are threatened, he will act. That should bolster his reputation somewhat with a suspicious military."

But is all this being filtered through a media prism that insists on making everything, from the stock market to dog adoption, about the president? Atlantic's Marc Ambinder comes closest to my view:

"Perhaps I'm reading this wrong, but I'm fairly certain that the pirate drama and its resolution says absolutely nothing about President Obama. You could make the case that the White House wants to show that Obama is deliberate and cautious when it comes to authorizing military force -- fine -- but this was a hostage rescue mission, the U.S. has specially-trained counterterrorist forces for precisely this sort of thing, and military action was almost inevitable."

Tina Brown sings the praises of the individual as triumphing over government bureaucracy:

"Another coup for Obama! This guy has winner's luck. Unlike Jimmy Carter's doomed rescue mission in Tehran, this time we got the glorious moment when Navy SEALs grabbed brave Captain Richard Phillips from the pirates who'd held him hostage for five days in a floating oven, and finished off the bastards.


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