03 May 2011

Where Credit Is Due

I usually try to maintain some semblance of professionalism in this blog.  Right now, though, I'm all kinds of angry and in any event, I'm not a professional.  This is making the rounds on Facebook already, and I happened upon it a few minutes ago:
Let's be clear on this: President Obama did NOT kill Osama Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN victory!! REPOST IF YOU AGREE!!!! keep this post going
I want to address these points one at a time because every damn one of them is categorically wrong.  In the strictest, literal sense, no President Obama did not pull the trigger.  But come the hell on, people.  In 2007, before the first primary of 2008 had been held, then-Senator Obama pointblank insisted, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistan's then-] President Musharraf won't act, we will."  Time and again, Candidate Obama was asked whether, as President, he would authorize a strike against Osama bin Laden if it turned out that bin Laden was in Pakistan, and time and again, he insisted that he would.  Guess what?  Bin Laden, as it turned out, was in Pakistan and President Obama did act on actionable intelligence.

Secondly, it was never President Obama's plan to shut down the federal government or to not pay the soldiers.  What Obama said was that the time had long passed for a budget to be passed and that he would not sign into law another continuances.  Congress, according to the Constitution of the United States, is responsible for passing a budget.  I know you slept through Social Studies class in high school, but the President can only sign or veto legislation.  He cannot write it.  It was increasingly clear to anyone paying attention that it was the Republican party that had a hard-on over a shut-down.  More specifically, we have never had confirmation that soldier pay would have been affected by a shutdown; that report was mere speculation on the part of the media.

The Feed and Forage Act of 1861 allows for the continued pay for our military personnel even in the absence of appropriations funding, and was invoked as recently as 1994, and even in 2001 shortly after the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush called on Feed and Forage--though Congress acted quickly enough that the Act wasn't needed.  Believe what you want, but I suspect that he's smart enough to know he could use Feed and Forage to ensure pay to the military.

Lastly, President Obama didn't just "happen to be in office" for this strike.  It was his insistence that bin Laden be a priority that allowed the years-long operation to reach this conclusion.  It was Obama personally who rejected plans to simply bomb the compound.  Obama wanted the body, to be able to prove we had finally got bin Laden.  Why is it this damn hard it is to give credit where credit is due?  Obama could easily have followed Bush on the topic and said he didn't know or care where bin Laden was.  He didn't do that.  He made finding the head of al Qaeda our number one goal.

By the "logic" of this Facebook status meme, Obama would be blamed for Legislative near-inaction, and denied credit for Executive action.  Are you people that poorly educated about our own government?  If this strike goes wrong, it's undeniably an Obama failure.  But it went right, and you want it to not be an Obama success?

It is not "politicizing" this event to acknowledge that President Obama is our Commander-in-Chief and that it was on his personal authority that this strike was organized and took place.  It is politicizing it to try to detract from how important a role Obama played in this operation.  For three years all I've heard about is how Barack Obama wakes up in the morning and the left thinks he's walked on water.  I think Obama could literally walk on water, and the right would tell us that the water had been chemically altered for buoyancy.  Blind hate is no better than blind devotion, and more importantly, no reasonable person believes those are the only choices.  A reasonable person evaluates an event or person based on the available information, and you know what?  Every piece of evidence is clear: President Obama is entitled to credit for this operation.  Period.


  1. I love 99 44/100% of this. ;)

  2. Some people may not fully appreciate that praise, but I know how pure that enthusiasm is!

  3. Seems pretty logical to me, Travis. Thanks for spelling it out so well, for us Canucks!

  4. Brenda, I make no effort to deny my biases, but I do try to present reasonable arguments. It's comforting to know that I make sense even when I'm hopping mad and not bothering to refine my posts!

  5. On my drive to and from campus this afternoon, I had the radio on the local AM talk radio station and was listening to Rush Limbaugh. I've not listened to him in quite a while, and I was reminded today why I stopped listening to him. He spent the entire half hour I was driving to campus talking about how President Obama didn't really have any claim to this because he was using all of the things that Bush had put into place after 9/11. He was talking about how the only thing that Obama could claim was that he didn't shut down the processes that Bush had started, that he didn't close Gitmo or stop the water-boarding. Yes, I understand that the things were already in place, but President Obama was the one who said to go after bin Laden. He was the one who authorized this mission into a country who has nuclear weapons who could have chosen to retaliate, he was the one who made those hard decisions. We must give credit where it is due.

  6. I'm really trying to confine the scope of all this to Obama, but it's worth noting that the Bush administration rejected the information left by the Clinton administration. Richard Clarke was screaming to high Heaven about al Qaeda, and Condoleeza Rice, then head of the NSA, did not schedule one meeting with Clarke until a week before 9/11. And it was Bush himself who publicly declared:

    "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." - 3/13/02

    Mind you, that statement was made an entire YEAR before we went into Iraq. Just what else was a priority in March 2002?!

    It was gracious of President Obama to personally call Bush to inform him of the success of Operation: Geronimo, but if Bush's team had simply heeded Clarke's warnings in any of the first NINE MONTHS they were in office, perhaps the entire event of 9/11 is averted.

    To give Bush credit for this at all is generous and perhaps even disingenuous. To suggest that he, and not Obama, should get credit for killing bin Laden is an exercise in fantasy.

  7. Oh, one more thing: It's been reported that the information from Kalid Sheikh Mohammed that proved crucial in establishing the identity of the courier who, in turn led to bin Laden, was not information yielded through torture at all. In fact, when interrogators asked KSM about the courier, he tried to downplay the guy's significance at all. Even after being waterboarded (or, at least, threatened with it and knowing it had been used on others), he was still refusing to provide useful information! He wasn't offering up a damn thing useful; it was what he was trying to hide that mattered.

    So, credit Bush for the capture of KSM by all means. But no, waterboarding does not appear to have made him crack. He was still playing games with his interrogators. I readily concede that there's a lot more to know than what has been made public, but so far there's not been one shred of evidence that anything of value has come from waterboarding detainees.

  8. Some people may not fully appreciate that praise, but I know how pure that enthusiasm is!