We’re coming up to the first anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s demise. Some media outlets celebrated with cute headlines (“Osama Bin Laden Used Viagra And ‘Just-For-Men’ To Keep His Wives Interested In Him”). President Obama celebrated with an ad reminding everyone that he killed him.
To rightbloggers, this was an outrage. So was Obama cutting up on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. How dare he thus demean the office of the Presidency? That’s their job.
The Obama campaign spot that so ticked them off showed Bill Clinton praising the current President’s Bin Laden decision (“he took the harder and more honorable path”). Inserts contrasted that approach with a 2007 quote from Obama’s presumed 2012 opponent Mitt Romney, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”
In other words, standard political guff of the sort that every political campaign pumps out by the tanker-load. But this one disturbed rightbloggers more than most — just as the original event had. The War on Terror, after all, had been their thing; a Democratic President bragging on his own signal WoT accomplishment struck them as deeply unfair.
“Hey, obAMATEUR needed some ‘victory’ for his administration, which is the only reason he went for it,” reasoned Blogs 4 Victory. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air considered Obama hypocritical because he’d once denounced “the politics of fear,” yet here he was trying, Morrissey claimed, “to scare voters over Mitt Romney’s supposed inability to kill Osama bin Laden,” or at least scare those who believe that Zombie Bin Laden could come back from the dead and require re-assassination.
Reliapundit demanded props for denouncing Obama’s Bin Laden caper “4 FREAKIN’ MONTHS AGO,” in a post comparing the Bin Laden mission to “[Al] CAPONE TAKING OUT HIS RIVALS ON VALENTINES DAY.” “REGULAR READERS KNOW WE SCOOP THE BIGGIES ALL THE TIME,” he added. “SPREAD THE WORD. BOOKMARK US. FOLLOW US. BLOGROLL US.”
At American Thinker, Jeannie DeAngelis detected a similarity between Bin Laden and Obama: The late Al Qaeda leader dyed his hair, and so, DeAngelis claimed, does the current President: “Although it’s never been mentioned by him,” she wrote, “it appears Obama has also been known to address a stray gray or two now and then.”
This curious rumor has been denied by Michelle Obama, but DeAngelis knew the real truth: “Yet, despite the ongoing mystery,” she concluded, “Barack Obama’s weekly disappearing and reemerging salt-and-pepper head gives observant Americans like my newly-dyed self the insight that, at least as far as hair dye is concerned, what went on in Abbottobad is probably not that different from what goes on 7,053 miles away, on touch-up night in the White House family quarters.” Next week: Exclusive photos show Obama “dresses to the left,” just like Bin Laden.
Laura J. Altcorn of Americans Stand With Israel offered an Obama bumper sticker, “I Killed Healthcare and Osama bin Laden, TOO!” and several others on the same theme. Though we don’t expect these to catch fire, Alcorn mentioned others she didn’t have time to Photoshop that would “cover the vast array of things [Obama has] killed, with things like, ya know, Middle East stability vs. Israeli security, American spirit, Hope, Family Values, the Rule of Law, the sanctity of free and fair elections…”
Some rightbloggers were at least as outraged that the despised Bill Clinton was involved with the ad.
“If there is anyone to blame for the rise of al Qaeda it is Bill Clinton,” seethed RedState. “It was on Bill Clinton’s watch that all the events happened that resulted, ultimately, in the tragedy of September 11.” (Ahem.)
“None other than ‘Mr. Honorable’ (sarcasm) Bill, ‘blue dress’ Clinton narrates,” said Geoff Caldwell of Caldwell’s Corner.
“Despite Clinton’s Many Chances to Kill Bin Laden Media Love Obama Using Him to Imply Romney Wouldn’t Have,” breathlessly headlined Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters. “If we had an honest media, they’d all be laughing in the President’s face for using a man this way who allegedly passed on up to ten chances to take out bin Laden before thousands of innocent Americans were killed leading to two wars which cost our nation many more lives and treasure.” (This is our favorite use of “allegedly” in many months.)
“What the Hell is Bill Clinton doing being the narrator of the ad?” asked National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg. “I could have sworn there was a general rule that former presidents don’t get too mired in partisan politics.”
Someone may have reminded Goldberg of Ronald Reagan telling the 1988 Republican Convention to “Win one for the Gipper,” because Goldberg stipulated, “Sure they can endorse someone and all that, and give a speech at the conventions, but they don’t become partisan hacks either. That’s why there was so much controversy when Jimmy Carter became so anti-Bush in 2004. Or at least that’s my sense of it. Maybe I’m just imagining it?” No one can deny Jonah Goldberg asks the hard questions.
“This obviously means there is either money or women in it for Bubba. Probably both,” observed the irrepressible Angry White Dude. “Or perhaps Obama has agreed to have the Secret Service provide the names and locations of their favorite South American hoo-ahs to Clintoon. Or his wife. Probably both.”
“Yes, Clinton blew his shot at getting bin Laden before 9/11,” said Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, “and when that was dramatized in The Path To 9/11, the Clintons used their influence to ensure that the made-for-TV movie never aired again. And it still hasn’t. It’s not available on DVD, either.” Considering the pent-up demand for a TV movie about George W. Bush’s presidency, media conspiracy is really the only possible explanation.
Since Obama wasn’t fit to take credit for the Osama caper, rightbloggers nominated other heroes to rightfully take his place.
Time magazine obtained a decision memo from Leon Panetta, then head of the CIA, which read:
“Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1. The decision is to proceed with the assault. The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.”
The memo was, to Ben Shapiro at Breitbart’s Big Peace, “a CYA maneuver by the White House… It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad…he didn’t do anything but give a vague nod, while putting his top military officials at risk of taking the hit in case of a bad turn.”
“Yeah, the real hero who had control over the entire mission from beginning to end was Admiral McRaven,” seconded The Right Scoop. “He controlled everything, yet Obama is acting like he made this huge freaking decision to kill Osama bin Laden.”
The American Thinker’s Richard Butrick said, in a post titled “The Collapsing Story Line on the Obama Take-down of Osama,” “If the mission succeeded the credit goes to the brave and daring Commander in Chief, had it failed the Admiral goes under the bus. Does that make Obama brave and fearless or wily and cunning?” You make the call!
“Some would say that this is a distinction without a difference, sort of like a head coach in football drawing up the game plan and letting his offensive coordinator actually call the plays,” admitted Investors’ Business Daily. “Then, technically, President George W. Bush gets the credit, since it was on his watch our war on terror was declared, Navy SEALs and Special Forces funding was increased and the hunt for Osama bin Laden began.”
Others agreed that Bush was the real hero of Abottabad: “Conservative groups could run ads pointing out that Obama would never have been presented with the chance to green-light the operation without President Bush’s decisions, which the 43rd president made despite partisan carping from the likes of Barack Obama,” said Guy Benson at TownHall.
“Yes, Obama was able to locate and kill Osama bin Laden,” said Alana Goodman at Commentary, “but he did this by using intelligence and gathering methods put into place by the Bush administration.”
“Bush policies and actions led to Osama Bin Laden getting found,” explained David Bellow. “Waterboarding a Guantanamo Bay terrorist resulted in the tip that eventually let to Osama Bin Laden. Obama was against waterboarding and Guantanamo Bay so if Obama had his way, we would have never gotten the tip in the first place. Obama just happened to be President when Bush Policies came through!”
It is cheering to see conservatives hail the example of George W. Bush instead of running away from it at top speed, as they have been doing for the past four years.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter, reasoned William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, because the Middle East is not at peace, as it was in the good old days when the United States was busy blowing up Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The killing of one person has been against the backdrop of a complete disaster for the United States throughout the Middle East and Central Asia,” said Jacobson. For one thing, he explained, “North Africa is or is on the way to domination by radical Islamists” — that is, the Arab Spring has happened, pushing out previously-U.S.-backed leaders like Murbarak and Gaddafi; thus, “the Muslim Brotherhood and even more extreme Islamists are nearing control.”
And though the same sort of people are also banging on the door in Syria, their failure thus far to break it down is also Obama’s fault, said Jacobson: “In Syria,” Jacobson wrote, “where for once we could have dealt a crushing blow to Iranian influence, we have helped Bashar Assad hang onto power to the extent that both sides hate us.” Isn’t it something how Obama always winds up forcing out the dictators rightbloggers want left in office, and leaves in the ones they want forced out? Incompetence is the only possible explanation.
Obama’s non-Osama-related PR appearances also enraged the brethren. The President’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show, where he slow-jammed the news with The Roots, infuriated them.
“The Five Attacks President Obama For Being Too Cool In ‘Awful’ Fallon Appearance,” reported Mediaite. Ben Shapiro declared that Obama’s appearance violated campaign laws, and demanded, “Mitt Romney should be given equal time, and an equally sycophantic propaganda piece by Fallon.” Now that we would watch.
The performance “has some Americans wondering if the president has now ‘jumped the shark,’ that is to say, gone over the top to ensure his demise,” claimed World Net Daily, offering as proof a caller-in to the Rush Limbaugh Show, and Limbaugh himself.
It just got worse when Obama gave another blithe performance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last weekend.
Some objected to the whole idea of such a dinner. “Great to know that our fearless watchdogs are busy swilling wine with the people they are supposed to be covering and introducing them to their wives and posing for pictures with Mila Kunis,” snarled Right, Wing-Nut! Breitbart fans picketed the show.
But some rightbloggers noticed MC Jimmy Kimmel did some gags about Obama, and enjoyed those, anyway. “You will notice when listening to Kimmel’s roasts,” explained Scared Monkeys, “the ones that are more funny than others are the ones that have a bit of truth to them, not just making a partisan hit joke.” Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft approved Kimmel’s routine “Including Kenyan Jokes” (“Needless to say – This was fun to watch”).
Some even got into the celebrity-watching aspect (“God, I’d take Sandra Fluke over that whale of Meghan McCain. Gross,” observed Donald Douglas of American Power.)
Howard Portnoy noted one Kimmel joke — “There’s a term for President Obama, probably not two terms” — and provided this interesting context: “The cameras did not record the president’s response,” he wrote, “so it’s hard to know whether he managed a rare laugh at his own expense or curled his bottom lip into the pouty expression he wears when he accuses his opponents of treating him like a dog.”
At Reason, Lucy Steigerwald‘s fury over the President making jokes was palpable. “So why is it so jaw-droppingly wonderful that the president manages to have enough comic timing to get some of the jokes that he didn’t write across?” she asked. “Why is it so exciting that it’s like he’s people?… Remember, mocking the stupidest critiques of your presidency is the height of edgy, self-deprecating humor.”
Steigerwald was mildly pleased that Kimmel made jokes at Obama’s expense — “Maybe the bloom is off the rose a little for Obama if a comedian dared to go there” — but this was spoiled by the crowd’s enthusiastic response to Obama: “The way the crowd howled at Obama’s every half-witticism,” she sulked, “it didn’t feel like it. Listening to Obama speak in person is as infuriating as it is on television; worse, with journalists in hysterics and me looking dour and thinking this isn’t funny. But maybe Obama is funny. Maybe I can’t tell.” Maybe entertainment news reporting, or entertainment, isn’t her thing.
“I wish the ad had at least one or two really solid clips conveying how despearately Obama wants to seem cool, which is always the great coolness-killer. It would have helped set the tone of the ad much better.”
Yeah, that’d be really awesome. Connoisseurs of Goldberg’s legendary work ethic will especially appreciate his follow-up: “What would those clips be? I’m not sure, but then again I’m not making the ad. Michael Moore seems to find a way to find that kind of footage pretty easily, and I have no doubt it can be found in Obama’s case.”
You heard him, guys. Get to work. It’s gonna be a long campaign.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2012