Attention, Republicans: Looking for a theory that will allow you to reconcile Obama’s Abbottabad success with the unfavorable portrait of him that before Sunday was just beginning to come together and burn itself into the collective mediamind–that’ he’s an inexperienced, indecisive leader, constantly debating with himself, who fatally hedges every bet? Well, you’ve come to the right place. One of kausfiles‘ alert commenters (“Southernpundit”) has taken the possibility that Obama’s hand was forced by WikiLeaks–i.e., he had to act quickly or else Osama might realize we were on his couriers’ trail and flee– and added a nasty-yet-plausible political twist:
[I]f it came out via Wikileaks that President Obama knew where Osama Bin Ladin was but did not act…No President would be able to recover, especially a Democrat President…talk about playing to stereotypes!
I’m glad that he made what I believe to be the right call, but …
In other words, Obama’s still a natural ditherer and hedger–it’s just that in this case he was forced into taking decisive action by something bigger: the prospect of a devastating political attack (“He let bin Laden escape”) no candidate entering a reelection campaign could survive. Our young elected leader may not know how to wield global power or reconcile realism and idealism, but he knows a deadly negative sound bite when he sees it. So (maybe after talking it over with his political brain trust) he decided he could not afford not to pull the trigger. Kind of wussy when you think about it!
I don’t buy this theory.** I present it as a reader service feature. … I also note that it is similar in form to the meme both left and right developed to attack President Clinton’s decision to sign the 1996 welfare reform bill: Clinton, it was said, only signed it because his adviser Dick Morris told him that not signing it would jeopardize his reelection. I tend to think Clinton signed it because he thought it was on balance a pretty good bill. But since it would have been politically damaging to do otherwise, the idea that Clinton’s call was an at-least-subconscious act of cowardice is non-disprovable.
Backfill: Right on schedule. But The American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson is too kind to Obama. Lifson plays up the ‘he cynically did it for the political benefit’ angle–not the far nastier ‘he did it because he was scared of criticism’ angle. Only the latter makes the “gutsiest” bin Laden call look like the act of a dithering weakling. …
More: Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute has more of the swing of it–
I can imagine that advisors in the White House were very worried that these leaks would prompt the departure of whatever HVT was within the compound. And if it were subsequently leaked that Obama lost an HVT to WikiLeaks while waiting for more intel… one can ony imagine the pressures on the man with the loneliest job in the world.
Suggestion: Drop last line, after ellipses. Too empathetic! …
Also: Ace of Spades (“I obviously don’t mind narratives that play Obama as weak, timid, or stupid …”)
**–Obama seems plenty willing–maybe a bit too willing–to pull the trigger to me. He’s been shooting drones into Pakistan for years, and recently greenlighted an unnecessary war in Libya.