After serving two tours in Iraq, a neo-con engineered war having nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, the latest political attack by Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans leaves me completely confused.
President Obama's campaign has released a 90-second video, featuring President Clinton,
highlighting President Obama's role in the successful killing of Osama bin Laden, and stressing the fact that Mitt Romney had previously attacked the very idea of an operation of this kind as not worth the cost.
Of course, as is the state of our politics these days, anything President Obama does will get attacked by the Republicans. And so it was with this.
Mitt Romney's spokesperson told the Huffington Post, "It's unfortunate that President Obama would prefer to use what was a good day for all Americans as a cheap political ploy." Senator John McCain called it, "a pathetic political act of self-congratulation." It may be a moment of congratulation, but only because neo-cons and Republicans failed so miserably to complete this task during their eight years in the White House, that they sent half our standing army to invade a country completely un-related to killing the al Qaida leader.
Let's, for a second, imagine that President Obama had ordered the raid, and it failed. Imagine our SEALs were captured and killed. Osama bin Laden wasn't there. How do you think Republicans would be marking today? This raid would have been referred to by them as a Desert 1 sequel.
You don't have to imagine too hard. You can ask President Clinton about how conservatives treated him after our raids in Somalia, and Black Hawk Down, for years. Was its it cheap to attack him for this?
When there are military failures, there's a robust debate over them, and popular support partly determines whether operations will continue or not. I've certainly spoken out on a number of occasions in the past, criticizing President Bush's stewardship of the war in Iraq, and tried to lay out the facts so people could make their own decision. And Republicans have every right to do the same when they feel President Obama is failing, or when they felt President Clinton was.
On the other side of the coin, though, President Obama has every right to tout a major military success, especially when it resulted in killing the world's most wanted terrorist. It was him, and him alone, who gave the green light to the operations. It was he who managed the national security team that put together the raid. And it was he who kept his promise from the 2008 campaign, to strike and kill bin Laden, anywhere, anytime, even in a country where our allies were unable or unwilling to help.
It is absolutely fair, as well, for him to point out that when he made that promise, Mitt Romney was harshly critical of him. In 2007, Mitt Romney was clear that he didn't think such an operation was worth it. Not for "one person," as he said.
First, I'm confused at the attack on President Obama, because the rank hypocrisy being demonstrated by Republicans is so blatantly obvious, that it's hard to believe they want to highlight it. And second, as a political matter, I'm a bit confused as to why Republicans want to highlight, through attacking, what is arguably President Obama's most popular achievement while in office. Every time Republicans attack, Americans are reminded that President Obama had bin Laden killed. I'm sure that in the White House, and in Chicago, the president's team is practically begging for more.
These attacks seem to be the product of the neo-con policy folks so insecure that they are attacking -- in a sense -- their own failures. These are the folks who have real sway with the Romney campaign, and they won't sacrifice their egos for the benefit of the candidate. How do we know Mitt Rommey and Republicans wouldn't have acted? Because, they campaigned against the very idea of striking Bin Laden with this type of operation. So all they're left with is bitterly attacking this president's tremendous success.
At the end of the day, though, it's a completely fair point for the president to raise -- that President Obama orchestrated the killing of bin Laden, as promised, and didn't lose one American life in the operations. If Republicans want to have a debate over it, that's their decision. But it's a losing one.
Follow Jon Soltz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jonsoltz