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.