In May 2011, when asked by CBS News about why he would not release photos of the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama said, "We don't need to spike the football."
How much things have changed in a year.
As we've approached this week's third anniversary of that happy moment when the mass murderer was lobotomized by a Navy SEAL's bullet, bin Laden-related chest thumping has become the administration's campaign tactic-of-the-week.
At the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday night, Barack Obama touted that "last year at this time -- in fact, on this very weekend -- we finally delivered justice to one of the world's most notorious individuals."
Even Hillary Clinton has been waxing nostalgic about the bin Laden raid, evoking images of sleep-deprived heroes (such as herself) being revived by crowds cheering outside the White House gates following news of the terrorist's death.
In a new web ad called "One Chance," former President Bill Clinton -- oddly chummy with Obama of late -- says that Obama "took the harder and the more honorable path" by ordering the raid on bin Laden's Pakistan compound. The ad goes on to quote Mitt Romney's 2007 comment that "It's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," implying that a President Romney might not have ordered the assault on bin Laden given the same information that Obama had. It is a reprehensible -- and literally incredible -- assertion.
Not surprisingly, the Obama ad does not mention Romney's clarification a few weeks later: his point was that bin Laden would be replaced and that killing him would not mean the end of al Qaeda. During a 2007 debate, Romney made his view on bin Laden crystal clear: "We'll move everything to get him. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another.… It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die."
(See Romney's remarks at about 6:40 into this video of the May 3, 2007 Republican debate.)
The Miami Herald notes several instances of Barack Obama saying that the issue of bin Laden should not be used by himself or by others (such as Hillary "Do I look as tired as I feel" Clinton) to score political points. But of course, that's just what the president is doing now. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
The Herald also reports the Romney camp's response to the "One Chance" ad: "The killing of Osama bin Laden was a momentous day for all Americans and the world, and Governor Romney congratulated the military, our intelligence agencies, and the President. It's now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters' attention from the failures of his administration. With 23 million Americans struggling for work, our national debt soaring, and household budgets being squeezed like never before, Mitt Romney is focused on strengthening America at home and abroad."
As if the web ad weren't hypocritical and pathetically self-serving enough, the president sat down with NBC's Brian Williams for an "exclusive interview" to be aired on Wednesday. The interview is, according to MSNBC, "the first for network television" to be filmed inside the White House Situation Room, from where the administration's national security team watched the bin Laden raid take place.
This is almost as much an indictment of NBC News as it is of the president, but complaining about liberal media bias is like complaining about a puppy peeing on your rug: it's just what they do. If you don't like it, don't buy a puppy -- and don't watch NBC News.
The Obama administration is flustered by the lack of traction by his other recent divisive campaign tactics. It's doing anything it can to distract from Obama's record, pointing to the one rousing success of his administration -- but one that would be hard to imagine any other president not grabbing should the same opportunity have arisen.
As Republican strategist and Romney advisor Ed Gillespie said on Meet the Press, "this is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history. He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans, an event that Governor Romney congratulated him and the military and the intelligence analysts in our government for completing the mission in terms of killing Osama bin Laden. And he's managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan, political attack that former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci for President Reagan called 'sad.' John McCain called 'shameful.' I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign."
Indeed, if there is one thing that Americans should learn from the Wednesday interview, it is that President Obama simply has nothing else he can talk about that will appeal to the broader American electorate. His record is one of economic suppression and radical leftist policy that only energizes his "Progressive" base. Even many of those can't be too pleased with their employment prospects after more than three years of an Obama presidency. And ironically, they are the people (other than terrorists themselves) least pleased with Obama's aggressive use of drones to kill terrorist enemies of America, one of the few laudable policies of this administration. With friends like that…
Perhaps Romney, with his response to the Obama web ad, is following the advice of Jed Babbin who suggests on these pages that in order to beat Barack Obama in November, "Romney will have to be much tougher in his own right, and ready to respond with the appropriate level of vehemence to Team Obama's attacks." This goes hand-in-glove with Michelle Malkin's advice to Mitt Romney to stop saying that Obama is a "nice guy" and instead discuss this administration's many (non-terrorist) victims.
With that in mind, a few ideas for Romney on this anniversary of bin Laden's death:
- "If only President Obama weren't as effective at killing the economy as he is at killing terrorists…" (Substitute "freedom" for "the economy" occasionally, especially when trying to capture libertarians, Tea Party activists, and Ron Paul supporters.)
- "It's unfortunate that President Obama thinks that the EPA's relationship to jobs should be the same as the Navy SEALs' relationship to Osama bin Laden."
- "It's too bad Barack Obama won't go outside his leftist comfort zone to help all Americans the way he does to hurt a few terrorists."
- And slightly tangential to bin Laden: "If President Obama were doing such a good job, why is he having so many of his campaign messages delivered by people named Clinton?"
The recent hype about the killing of bin Laden is a sign of Obama's weakness, not his strength. Obama knows it, NBC News knows it, and it's time for Mitt Romney to make sure voters know it -- and make sure it sticks.