Give Obama credit for taking out bin Laden
By John M. Crisp
So, if you were the president, would you have pulled the trigger on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Are you sure?
Republican candidate Mitt Romney is certain that he would have and, in fact, he says, the decision to go was so clear-cut that even Jimmy Carter would have launched the raid.
But a couple of cliches are called for: The decision to strike was not, by any means, the kind of no-brainer that Romney suggests, and the raid's outcome was far from a slam-dunk.
Furthermore, the gratuitous slap at Carter doesn't quite make sense. Carter mounted Operation Eagle Claw in 1980 in an attempt to rescue 52 American hostages in Tehran. The mission, much more difficult and complicated than the bin Laden raid, was undone by weak planning and bad luck. But no one can fault Carter for insufficient courage or audacity.
Eagle Claw's failure had a lot to do with making Carter a one-term president, which should remind us of how much President Barack Obama had at stake. He was risking not only the lives of soldiers and civilians, but also the prestige and credibility of the United States and, really, his presidency.
I'm not fond of extra-judicial assassinations, even of non-Americans, but let's face it: If anyone had one coming, it was Osama bin Laden.
OBL wasn't a madman, and I don't like using terms like "evil" to describe motivations that can be explained in rational terms.
But the fact that OBL had his reasons for attacking the United States on 9/11 doesn't release him from the consequences. His attacks were outrageous, his victims were innocent and he was still a dangerous, motivated threat. Vengeance may be the Lord's, but sometimes he relies on humans to do the right thing.
Republicans don't mention George W. Bush much these days, but he's been resurrected in the attempt to absorb some credit for the groundwork behind the raid that got bin Laden. But Bush, distracted by Iraq, appears to have lost interest in OBL during the decade that followed 9/11. In any case, he didn't get the job done. Obama did.
Would Romney have launched the raid? No one, not even Romney, really knows the answer to that question. Neither does Obama.
But the heat that the president has endured over a recent campaign ad that suggests Romney wouldn't have launched the raid is overwrought. Some have called the ad unpresidential, and the Boston Herald published a cartoon depicting Obama wondering why anyone would politicize the OBL raid as he sports a T-shirt that features a picture of OBL and a caption that reads, "If I were alive, I'd vote for Romney."
If the Obama campaign ad was a tad over the top, surely it's excusable in the hyper-political atmosphere that the president has endured for the last three years, one that has attempted to deflect well-deserved credit for the bold OBL raid onto everyone except the president.
Of course, plenty of other people deserve credit, as well. A year later, all of them still merit a victory lap. If the raid had gone wrong, apart from the casualties, Obama would have fallen farthest and hardest. But the raid went exquisitely right, with a result that both the left and the right should feel good about.
With regard to who gets credit, Obama's been a glory-hog only in the eyes of those who are looking for any opportunity to detract from his record.
So let's give the president a break on the OBL raid. So what if one of his finest accomplishments is lightly tinged with politics? That's not exactly news.
Besides, here's a relevant quote. It's been attributed to many others, but I like the version that puts it in the mouth of St. Louis Cardinals baseball legend Dizzy Dean, who said, reportedly: "It ain't bragging if you can do it."
John M. Crisp teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Email email@example.com.