May 4, 2011

Beinart: Obama IS a tough guy! No really. Not kidding. Honestly.

What did I tell you? I wrote yesterday that "Obama the tough" was nothing more than election mode Obama.  He's not a tough guy, but he plays one on TV, or rather, he's trying to do so.  Obama has been seen by many to be an American apologist - bowing to Saudi Kings and harboring the notion in other nations that America has done wrong.  But now it's getting closer to 2012 election time, and President Obama needs to fix his image at home if he wants to win.  I'm sure this is the first in a series of damage controls that will include some post-partisan shtick too.  But while the notion of Obama the tough is laughable to many of us, it's already getting some play.

Peter Beinart at the liberal Daily Beast takes up the cause for Obama;
The killing of Osama bin Laden has greater potential to change the Democratic Party’s reputation on national security than any single event since Vietnam. It almost perfectly rewrites the narrative of Democratic weakness that Republicans have labored decades to build.
(1) Democrats have labored to build that image themselves Peter, period.
(2) This single event does that? You give Obama too much credit. This was a national effort. Further, there's too much Democrat reputation reality for a single event, even one as momentous as this, to erase.

Beinart goes on;
First, the view that Democrats won’t use force. This was never true. Bill Clinton, after all, sent troops to Haiti, and bombed Bosnia and Kosovo. But barely anyone remembers those missions and because their rationale was humanitarian, they made the Democrats seem like armed social workers. The bin Laden operation, by contrast, was pure testosterone.
Where to begin? Democrats are reluctant to use force and when they do use it, frankly it stinks. Haiti? Years of half effort that did nothing. In fact, worse than nothing;
General Wilhelm said he had recommended that we terminate our permanent military presence in Haiti. Why? Well, for one thing it cost us over $20 million in 1998. But he said, “At this point, I am more concerned about force protection than cash outlays.” He explained, “The unrest generated by political instability requires us to constantly reassess the safety and security environment in which our troops are living and working.” He said that until the troops are withdrawn, “We will continue to make force protection job one for our deployed forces. We will not let our guard down.”

This means that we are keeping 500 American servicemen in Haiti under conditions in which our primary concern is protecting their lives. In September 1994, President Clinton sent 20,000 American troops to Haiti to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. This was supposed to usher in a bright new future for this impoverished Caribbean country. Our troops were sent to make Haiti safe for Aristide, who had been ousted from his presidential office in September 1991 after serving only eight months of his four-year term.

During those eight turbulent months, he had incited his followers to murder 27 people by necklacing, the barbaric practice of burning them to death by putting a gasoline filled tire around their necks and igniting it. Aristide, who had been diagnosed as psychotic, had incited the mobs, telling them that he loved the smell of “Pere Lebrun,” the Haitian name for necklacing. He had them gather before the Parliament and the Supreme Court with their tires, gasoline and matches, to intimidate the members of Parliament and the judges.
I would go on about Kosovo and Bosnia but there isn't enough time in a single post. I'd rather move on to the ridiculous notion of pure testosterone. A thousand words won't do as much as say a picture.

Sorry, this room does not show a testosterone-fest as they watch the events unfold, apparently in real time.  Only Secretary Gates displays any level of confidence in that room.  Concern?  Sure, that's natural - you want success.  But that room does not fill me with confidence that they had confidence.  Testosterone will do that to you - give you confidence.  But I really don't see that there.

Beinart isn't done.  He goes on to make the point that Democrats aren't slaves to international institutions and laws. He argues they are more multilateral but not slaves surely.  His third point was that the notion that Democrats don't play well with the military is also false.

I can break these other points down too in future posts, or even spend more time on the first point.  I don't think there's room here.  I'm also not sure if it's worth the effort based on reader interest or disinterest.  Feel free to  me know your thoughts on that.  But I do want to conclude with a counter-point to Beinart.  

In arguing that this single act obliterates the notions of wimpy Democrats, Beinart relies on examples from the Clinton presidency as much as Obama's own and even some of the Obama examples aren't related to the killing of Bin Laden.  Furthermore, this was going to happen no matter who the president was - if McCain had won the election, this would have happened just the same, perhaps 16 hours sooner, but it would have still happened.  It is the result of years of intelligence gathering and efficient, effective military training.  All Obama?  Not a chance. 

So forgive me for believing that this squares Democrats and President Obama with the military and with voters on the notion that Democrats are wimpy.  I don't buy it.  And after the inevitable but finite popularity bump, Mr. Beinart, the  return to Obama's normal approval ratings will bear out that either you are wrong and/or that even in the unlikely event that you are right, it doesn't matter enough.


  1. Dean, there was only one reason that Obama gave the go ahead on this raid. He was not invited to the Brits' Royal Wedding and he wanted it off the front page. Only one reason. Spite.

  2. Paul, your wit is terrific! I just spit up some coffee through my nose. I really wasn't expecting a comment like that.

  3. I'm not kidding. I really believe that. The Pakis told Obama where OBL was last August.

  4. That speaks to his overly timid nature. Although I'd say as I did in my earlier post on the subject, with Obama, all moves are political. He wanted this as close to 2012 as he could get away with. I bet they got worried he was going to be on the move and he had to act now or be known as the 2nd guy who let him get away (see Clinton).

    What I'm even more interested in diving into is that it appears the intelligence thread may extend all the way back to enhanced interrogation. If that bears out it will be highly entertaining to see the contortions liberals go through to deny or disown any connection to it.

  5. Panetta admitted it yesterday that "enhanced interrogation" did supply some info. And it was KSM that supplied the call sign for the courier that ultimately led to finding the shack where OBL was.

    Why do you think that the prison camp at Guantanamo is still open? Solely because the administration found out that it needed to stay that way, plus no one wants those killahs in the country.

  6. I missed Panetta's comment but I heard a Rep. mention something about it. Right now it doesn't matter whether those techniques played a part because everyone is rightly thankful that it's finally been done. But the enhanced interrogation angle is something Republicans need to play up in the coming months.

    Democrats hated it, but in the end Obama is benefiting from the fruits of those efforts. He can't claim to be above that and then decide it's okay to benefit from it. And he certainly doesn't ultimately own the credit for it. I'll give him credit for not pulling a Jimmy Carter and torching the whole thing but even with that, I don't have complete certainty that he didn't scale it back and they still managed to succeed. If he did, that won't become known until after November 2012.

  7. Ultimately, it is exactly as your post said, just to prove that they are not a bunch of purse carrying sissies.

    But, they did not achieve that ends with me. Bottom line is that it is a simple fact that you have to be a braindead idiot to vote for a Democrat.

  8. To the author of this blog.

    Sir I don’t know who you are but to me you sound like an American.
    I have never heard of citizens have so much disrespect for their President
    as to what I hear and what I read. It seems like this President can not do
    or say anything without being criticize. I believe he did what Mr. Bush
    could not do in eight years and with no big bomb to blast every thing in sight.
    At least if you do not respect him give him credit for it and show more respect.

  9. Anon 8:22, Obama was at the golf course when they told him this was happening. Have you not seen the photo of the "War Room?"

  10. Anon - take a look at my post today. Obama had no choice to do anything other than what he did. I'll give him credit for not still getting it wrong, even though he had no choice.

    Paul - you go girl!


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