Last night Obama delivered an address informing the nation that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Firstly, Obama deserves credit for going into Pakistan and getting Bin Laden. As for how much of the credit, I am most drawn to a baseball analogy: Bush got the win. Obama got the save. The intelligence officers and Armed Forces scored the runs.
I also will not quibble with the unemotional tone of Obama’s speech because he always has that professorial disposition. On the other hand, I strongly disapproved of parts of Obama’s statement as being overly self congratulatory and inappropriate. These parts gave other democrats and liberals in the media permission to give Obama full credit, politicize this accomplishment, and diminish the role that others played (and they did just that, a few examples via @Jimmiebjr, also MSNBC did it non-stop). While Bush’s statement focused on the troops and even congratulated Obama, Obama’s perpetual focus on himself was evident and divisive.
I had no problem with the first portion of the speech, but then Obama went into political mode. First, he claimed that upon entering office he directed Panetta to make “killing or capturing Bin Laden a top priority”, thus implying that it had not been earlier (clearly not true). In the next two paragraphs he describes what led up to the operation by mentioning himself 5 times. Any other president would have used “we” or spoken about what the intelligence community did, not emphasized how many times he held meetings with them. Obama also failed to acknowledge former President Bush, whose intelligence efforts through interrogation and secret prisons (the same ones Obama and the left so vehemently opposed) actually allowed for the information that led to the operation that killed Bin Laden.
I felt the next part of the speech was completely inappropriate. Obama has delivered the “we are not at war with Islam” remarks dozens of times, was it really important to emphasize at a moment like this? Second, it is not Obama’s place to judge who is and is not a Muslim leader. Only Muslims can decide that and their reaction today will be very telling as to what they believe. However, we do already know that many Muslims worshiped and followed Osama bin Laden, so this statement is at best misleading. What Obama should have emphasized was the idea that peaceful Muslims would not and should not support someone like Osama Bin Laden. I do understand diplomatically why Obama stressed our cooperation with Pakistan, although based on where Bin Laden was living there are serious questions that must be answered about whether Pakistan shares a commitment towards cooperation. Overall, the speech was contradictory. On the one hand Obama was emphasizing unity, while also focusing on his own efforts and leaving out those who preceded him. This politicking also took away the spotlight from the people who really deserved it, our heroic Intelligence officers and Armed Forces. These men and women have literally put their lives on the line to take the fight to our enemy and protect our freedoms, last night was their doing. Lastly, I want to emphasize that even though the president deserves credit for what happened last night, it does not change our very serious disagreement over many of the actions he has taken in office that we feel are detrimental to this country’s future. Furthermore, this result actually highlights the naiveté of the president’s positions on issues such as Guantanamo Bay and enhanced interrogations. We should all be proud as Americans that justice was finally served to Osama Bin Laden, but let us not forget that this fight is not over and let us not allow this president to shift an American victory into one that only to him.
God Bless America.