As I noted here the other day, the vast majority of the commentary about the battle over Bin Laden’s death has focused only on whether Obama is taking a grave political risk in touting the killing. Few if any commentators bothered asking whether Mitt Romney and Republicans are also taking a risk in downplaying the significance of Obama’s ordering of the mission and getting drawn into the argument over it.
But today, a handful of observers are now raising the latter possibility — and interestingly, they lean to the right.
Former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon, for instance, says Republicans have fallen into the trap the Obama campaign laid for them:
I say to Republicans: take an aspirin. Applaud Obama’s significant foreign- policy achievement. Get some credit for being honest and then take that credibility and turn the argument back to the economy, where the turf is much friendlier.
Because here’s the lesson. When Democrats went crazy about our 9/11 ad in 2004, all they did was bring more attention to the message we were trying to communicate. Which is precisely the trap Republicans are falling into today.
Meanwhile, Ross Douthat notes that the battle over Bin Laden shows that Obama is winning the political fight over national security, leaving the GOP incoherent and unable to resort effectively to the usual chest-thumping at a time of extreme public war-weariness.
One other sign these writers may be right: After initially claiming that “even Jimmy Carter” would have ordered the mission, yesterday Romney seemed to tone down his rhetoric a bit, claiming he respects and admires Obama and all others involved in planning it.
If they are right, the larger question this dust-up raises — still unanswered — is whether Obama’s counterterrorism successes, public exhaustion with American involvement abroad, and the resultant GOP confusion on national security have scrambled the landscape enough to end, or at least severly diminish, the GOP’s dominance on the issue, real or presumed.
* Romney shocked at Obama’s “politicization” of Bin Laden death: Think Progress tallies up the times Romney chimed in with the Bush-Cheney smear of John Kerry (despite his war medals) as someone who would twiddle his thumbs in the face of the terror threat. It’s interesting to contrast the GOP confidence of that era with the party’s posture today.
* Pro-Romney super PAC plays “community organizer” card: The pro-Romney PAC Restore Our Future is set to go up with nearly $4 million in ads in nine swing states, one of which attacks Obama as a “community organizer,” contrasting that with Romney’s business background.
This shows, again, that the whole point of these outside groups is that they can launch the type of attacks the Romney campaign might shy away from, given Obama’s high favorability ratings — while the beneficiary of these attacks is not associated with them.
* Dems use Newt Gingrich to hit Romney: With Newt set to quit the race and endorse Romney, the Obama campaign is up with a new video featuring Gingrich’s greatest hits about Romney’s corporate profiteering, Swiss bank account and serial dishonesty.
The video is a reminder (as Republicans feared would happen) that it will be difficult for Romney to claim that criticism of his Bain years constitutes an attack on free enterprise itself when his GOP rivals are on record arguing that the criticism is completely letitimate.
* The Romney campaign’s misleading stats about women: Josh Hicks does a deep dive into the Romney camp’s latest claims about female joblessness under Obama, and finds they are misleading. Worse, they are again based on the premise that Obama is responsible for the free-falling economy’s hemorraging of jobs during his first months in office.
Question: With Romney continually claiming that he’d be better economically for women, will he support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will soon be voted in on the Senate?
* Elizabeth Warren rolls out the biggest gun of all — Obama: Elizabeth Warren is up with a new ad featuring Obama describing her as “one of the country’s fiercest advocates for the middle class,” an effort to get back to what her candidacy is really about after a successful GOP stint in diverting the race from a discussion of issues.
As always, watch the huge bloc of voters who didn’t turn out during the 2010 special election of Scott Brown but will likely come out this year — many of whom are likely Obama supporters.
* A pickup opportunity for Dems in Indiana? With Tea Partyer Richard Mourdock seemingly on track to oust longtime Senator Dick Lugar, Nate Silver explains why Dems now have a better chance to win a Senate seat in a year where every single contest is critical to who controls the Senate next year.
While Silver cautions that Murdock may still be the slight favorite, the larger story is that a Tea Party victory in the primary could hasten a trend that discourages mainstream conservatives from running in the future.
* Stephen King to America: Please tax me: Steve Benen flags a great one from author Stephen King, who adds his voice to those who are willing to acknowledge that the wealthy didn’t get rich in a vacuum, and as a result should chip in a bit more for the good of the society that helped enable their good fortune.
No doubt Chris Christie will be popping up any minute now to tell King to shut his yap.
* The future of Occupy Wall Street: Alasdair Roberts asks: Can Occupy replace or supplant the labor movement as the vehicle for elevating inequality as a public concern and translating economic anxiety into coherent demands for policy action?
* And the last word on Richard Grenell’s resignation: Jonathan Capehart delivers it:
Grennell chose power over principle when he took the Romney gig. Now he has neither.