A backlash is growing to the victory dance over the terrorist's death, fueling concerns that Obama's biggest foreign policy success could be turned against him
Many Navy SEALs are not happy that President Obama is "taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden," says Toby Harnden at Britain's The Daily Mail. Quoting retired and active SEALs, both on the record and off, Harnden makes the case that many SEALs resent Obama for using the group as "ammunition" in his re-election campaign. Some U.S. commentators dismissed the report as a conservative hatchet job, but others aren't so sure, saying Republicans could use the SEALs' alleged complaints to undercut Obama's most visible foreign policy success, much the way the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth decimated John Kerry's image as a decorated war hero in 2004. Is Obama about to be swift-boated?
Obama is skating on thin ice: "The frustration — or even anger — within the SEAL community is real," and if Obama's not careful, he could see his greatest foreign policy asset slip away, says Michael Hastings at BuzzFeed. Conservatives' "stagey outrage" over Obama trumpeting the death of bin Laden could find a more publicly palatable vehicle in the SEALs, and I wouldn't be surprised to see "navysealsagainstobama.com sprout up soon." The Obama campaign might want to reconsider whether "spiking the football, again, and again, and again, in public" is such a good idea, after all.
"Will the Navy SEALs swift boat Obama?"
Maybe he deserves to be swift-boated: "When you take too much credit, you open the door to blowback that gives you too little," says Paul Mirengoff at Powerline. The SEALs' reaction to Obama's "campaign of self-congratulation" was utterly predictable, and the president's real problem is that he doesn't have much else to brag about. "Other than the killing of bin Laden, nothing much springs to mind."
"Obama encounters blowback from the SEALs"
But Obama is not going to back down: Mitt Romney's campaign is trying to "push what amounts to a 'Navy Seals for Truth' pitch," but it can't hide the fact that Mitt is weak on this issue, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Romney says "even Jimmy Carter" would have ordered the raid on bin Laden, but his past statements, in which he played down the possibility of sending troops into Pakistan, legitimately call into doubt what Romney would have done. You can "expect the Obama campaign to keep hammering the fact that Romney opposed" an aggressive policy vis-a-vis bin Laden.
"The British are coming"
And he shouldn't cave to Republican bullying: The so-called outrage over bin Laden is a transparent effort "to intimidate Democrats into not mentioning" his death at all, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. From George W. Bush down, Republicans consider 9/11 their issue, and "it really grates their cheese that Obama, of all people, is the one who has earned the right to boast about killing bin Laden." Republicans will "wail" every time Obama mentions anything connected to 9/11, and Democrats "should be afraid no longer" to present themselves as the toughest party.
"How the GOP became a party of whiners over Osama"
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- Politics & Government
- Navy SEALs
- Osama bin Laden