Bin Laden: Does Obama's boasting cross the line?

A campaign TV ad praises President Obama for his courage in ordering the bin Laden raid and sheds doubt on what action Romney would have taken.

“Is Barack Obama trying to become the most polarizing president since Richard Nixon?” asked The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. In his re-election campaign’s most controversial TV ad yet, former President Bill Clinton praises Obama’s cool courage in ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound a year ago this week. That “victory lap” is tasteless enough, but the ad goes further, questioning whether GOP challenger Mitt Romney would have had the guts to do the same. The evidence for this scurrilous attack? Romney’s 2007 statement that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just to get one person,” and his criticism that same year of Obama’s promise to go into Pakistan to kill terrorists without that country’s consent. Romney later clarified that the U.S. should of course search for bin Laden, predicting “he will die.” The desperate Obama team, however, chose to cherry-pick his quotes. With the economy still in shambles, and Obamacare unpopular, the killing of bin Laden “is the only thing this president can campaign on.”

Imagine that: A politician so cynical he’d politicize national security, said Michelle Cottle in Of course, that includes “every fricking Republican who has run for office since 2001.” The Republican Party, let’s not forget, spent most of a decade boasting that President Bush and the GOP had “kept us safe,” even though 9/11 occurred on their watch, and raising the specter of “terrorists at the door” if a Democrat ever won an election. Obama earned the right to boast, said Fred Kaplan in The decision to send SEALs into Pakistan to kill bin Laden was hardly a “no-brainer.” The CIA had put the odds of Osama even being in the compound between 40 and 60 percent. Obama’s top advisers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, were recommending a safer but less conclusive B-2 bomber or drone attack. The president overruled them, at his own immense political risk. If that kind of calm judgment under pressure isn’t something voters should consider in November, what is?

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us