Changing my mind — maybe we DID get Osama because of Obama

This is one of the problems with new media. Sometimes you spout off before you have taken in enough information and processed it. After the Obama administration analyzed intel for eight months, and STILL only had a little better than a 50-50 supposition that bin Laden was in the house, maybe I should have taken a little more time to pass judgment. After all, my original training was in a medium when I could take all day, or — in the case of my columns — all week to make up my mind. Consequently, I can only think of one or two columns ever that I later regretted writing.

Blogging is different. I try to make sure I really mean what I say here, too, but sometimes my interlocutors get my dander right up, as Professor Elemental would say, and I give ill-considered answers.

Such is the case with my reaction to a comment by our old friend Bud the other night. Here I was very pleased with President Obama’s performance in the bin Laden case, and saying so, when I read this by Bud:

Let’s not forget the tireless work the president did as commander in chief to bring this operation to a successful conclusion. It really does matter who our leader is. Thankfully we have someone competent in charge.

… it tapped me on a sore spot. The comment itself was pretty innocuous by Bud standards, but in it I read the ghosts of so many other comments by Bud along the lines of EVERYTHING George W. Bush ever did was wrong, especially invading Iraq, and so I responded:

Bud, we should all give President Obama full credit for playing his leadership role well. But don’t make the political mistake of thinking this happened because he is president. This is more about stellar work by nameless, ground-level people in our military and our much-maligned intelligence services.

There is one sense in which Obama was a critical factor, though. It’s complicated. I think I’ll do a separate post about it…

That separate post was the one in which I argued that it was Obama’s laudably bellicose attitude toward going after our enemies hiding in Pakistan that made a positive difference here….

And as I was writing that, my sense that Obama being president WAS critical to the way this happened started to take hold. Not that Bud was right or anything; I still object to the way he characterized it, especially later when he said, “I find it so refreshing to have a competent, bright, hard-working leader in charge. He’s not rashly going in to places like Iran and Libya. Not sure why we still have troops in Iraq but otherwise Obama is doing an outstanding job keeping our foreign involvements to a minimum.”

But that’s quibbling over personal quirks.

Bottom line is, the more I’ve thought about it the last couple of days, then more I have decided that on the MAIN, unadorned point, Bud’s right: There are elements to what happened that are uniquely Obama. Not that it wouldn’t have happened under other presidents — JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. — but maybe not exactly this way, or this successfully.

I was thinking that this morning when reading The Wall Street Journal’s detailed story on how the raid unfolded, “U.S. Rolled Dice in bin Laden Raid:”

An early favorite: a bombing raid. That approach would minimize risk to American troops and maximize the likelihood of killing the residents of the compound. But it might also have destroyed any proof bin Laden was there.

A helicopter raid would be more complex, but more likely to deliver confirmation. Some officials were wary of repeating a fiasco like “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia, when U.S. forces were killed after a botched raid on a warlord… [By the way, one quibble on this story: That last sentence was inaccurate. The raid was NOT on the warlord, but to grab some of his lieutenants, and it was successful, not “botched.” The lieutenants were neatly grabbed and the operation was essentially over when the militia managed to hit two helicopters with RPGs.]

On April 19, Mr. Panetta told the president the CIA believed bin Laden was there. Other advisers briefed Mr. Obama on preparations for an assault, including the outcomes of the dress rehearsals. Mr. Obama told them to “assume it’s a go for planning purposes and that we had to be ready,” an administration official said.

That same day, Mr. Obama gave provisional approval for the commando-style helicopter assault—which was launched from Jalalabad, Afghanistan—despite the added risk. Senior U.S. officials said the need to get a positive identification on bin Laden became the deciding factor.

You’ll notice that Bill Clinton wasn’t on my list above. That’s because I’m practically certain that he would have opted for the bombing. And the more I think about it, the less I’m positive about the other presidents.

Whereas Obama made exactly the right call. The Seal raid was the way to go. And the president was completely right not to tell the Pakistanis — another point where I have my doubts about some of those earlier presidents (for instance, Bush pere was all about some multilateralism). There is a certain confidence — something important in a leader — in Obama’s choosing the riskier option in the absence of certainty, and then, once HE was satisfied that this was bin Laden who was killed, having the body buried at sea. The president was saying, LET the conspiracy theorists claim it wasn’t him — I know it was, and I’ve eliminated his body or his grave becoming an object for our enemies to rally around.

The president may be a lousy bowler, but he makes good calls in a tough situation. That is my considered opinion — now that I’ve taken time to consider.

By the way, I might not have decided to write about this change of mind — it happened sort of organically the more I read, rather than in a “Eureka” moment — if I hadn’t read two other items in the WSJ this morning. As it happens, they were opinion pieces by people who are as firmly entrenched on the right as Bud is on the left. But whereas Bud’s reflexive anti-Bush rhetoric put me off from being convinced of his point (that, and the fact that I just didn’t have enough info yet to reach that conclusion), their unadulterated praise of someone they usually criticize really drove the point home in a way that not even I could miss it.

Bret Stephens’ piece was headlined, “Obama’s Finest Hour:”

Thane’s point isn’t that vengeance is better than justice. It’s that there can be no true justice without vengeance. Oddly enough, this is something Barack Obama, Chicago liberal, seems to better grasp than George W. Bush, Texas cowboy.

The former president was fond of dilating on the point, as he put it just after 9/11, that “ours is a nation that does not seek revenge, but we do seek justice.” What on Earth did that mean? Of course we sought revenge. “Ridding the world of evil,” Mr. Bush’s other oft-stated ambition, was nonsense if we didn’t make a credible go of ridding the world of the very specific evil named Osama bin Laden.

For all of Mr. Bush’s successes—and yes, there were a few, including the vengeance served that other specific evil known as Saddam Hussein and those Gitmo interrogations that yielded bin Laden’s location—you can trace the decline of his presidency from the moment he said, in March 2002, that “I really don’t care [where bin Laden is]. It’s not that important.”…

Good points, although I may not be totally with him on the virtue of “vengeance” alone. Note that he makes a point similar to one I made yesterday, as my mind was starting to change (sometimes, and this may be hard to understand, I change my mind as I’m writing something — on the blog, you can sometimes see it happen, as I argue with myself) — that when it comes to Pakistan, Obama is more of a go-it-alone cowboy than Bush. Which to me is a good thing.

Then there was William McGurn’s column, which was about how Republican candidates (obsessed as they are with fiscal matters) have a long way to go to catch up with Obama on foreign policy:

It’s not just that Barack Obama is looking strong. For the moment, at least, he is strong. In the nearly 10 years since our troops set foot in Afghanistan, a clear outcome remains far from sight, and many Americans have wearied of the effort. As President Obama reminded us Sunday night, getting bin Laden doesn’t mean our work there is done—but his success in bringing the world’s most hunted man to justice does reinvigorate that work.

It does so, moreover, in a way that few of Mr. Obama’s recent Democratic predecessors in the Oval Office have matched. The killing of bin Laden was no one-shot missile strike on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory suspected of making chemical weapons, as ordered by Bill Clinton. Nor was it a failed hostage rescue in Iran à la Jimmy Carter. Instead, it was a potent combination of American force and presidential decisiveness.

First, Mr. Obama authorized a ground operation with Navy Seals far inside Pakistani territory. Second, he did not inform the Pakistanis.

These are the kinds of hard decisions that presidents have to make, where the outcome is likely to be either spectacular success or equally spectacular failure. For taking the risks that would paralyze others, and for succeeding where others have failed, the president and his team have earned the credit they are now getting.

Also good points. And hearing such good points made by people who don’t like the president nearly as much as I do made a big impression on me.

So in the end, I find myself agreeing with those guys, and with Bud, on this point: Having Obama as president made a big difference in this case.

42 thoughts on “Changing my mind — maybe we DID get Osama because of Obama

  1. Brad

    Hmmm. Speaking of people changing their minds… this just in from The Statest:

    “White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan painted a stunning picture Monday of Osama Bin Laden’s final moments alive: the al-Qaida leader was armed and possibly firing at oncoming U.S. forces while using his own wife as a human shield.

    “The problem with that specific telling of the story, however, is that the White House is now saying, quietly, that that is not what happened….”

    Mind you, they’re not saying OBAMA told us anything wrong. It’s more a question of some admin officials telling it one way, and others telling it another.

    Personally, I never thought it was bin Laden himself who used his wife as a shield. I had heard that ONE of the men did.

    But if he was not armed, THAT is indeed a new wrinkle.

    I had already heard that the mission was to kill, not to capture, him. I guess this goes along with that…

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  2. Mike

    We often give presidents way too much credit (or blame) for things, as if one guy is making these decisions on his own.

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  3. Brad

    Yeah, and that was my initial reaction to Bud. I mean, we sent in the U.S. Navy Seals, and they did the job they were so superbly prepared to do. THEY did it. No question about that.

    But more and more the last couple of days, I saw Obama’s distinctive fingerprints as a commander in chief on elements of this. He was more than just a rubber-stamp, and there are things that I’m not at all sure now that other presidents would have done. As I said.

    Speaking of fingerprints, and the Seals. Not many in military history could have pulled this off so neatly. Maybe the Brits’ SAS, or elite elements of the IDF. The British commandos who took Pegasus Bridge at the start of the Normandy invasion pulled off a very neat coup de main in tough circumstances. But the US has sort of cornered the market on hyper-competent commandos in recent decades. All they really need is the intel, and a “go” from command. Something for tyrants and outlaws the world over to think long and hard about.

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  4. bud

    The most comparable mission to the successful Bin Laden operation was probably the failed attempt by Jimmy Carter to rescue the hostages. Carter, like Obama, was very involved in the mission and made the very difficult call to go ahead with the mission. But the mission failed in part because Carter became a bit too involved in the details of the mission. Of course the mission may have failed anyone given the complexity of it. In spite of mistakes Carter made in this mission I think he should be given some credit for taking a big risk to try and end the hostage episode before it became any more of a distraction than it already was.

    Fast forward to the events that unfolded over the weekend. The president was once again confronted by a difficult situation that called for a command decision. He made a tough call that could have easily gone wrong and he would have faced severe criticism. That’s what Presidents do, make the tough calls. And as Brad is now acknowledging Obama is good at this job. Let’s rate his list of presidents when it comes to the tough calls:

    JFK – A After learning hard lessons in the Bay of Pigs fiasco he proved his mettle in the missile crisis

    LBJ – D- He failed miserably in the tough calls throughout the Vietnam era. Did at least stay away from further escalation such as use of nukes.

    Nixon – C+ Invasion of Cambodia was a huge mistake and we stayed in Nam too long. But he did take risks with the Russians and Chinese that have since paid big dividends.

    Ford – B Decided against attempting heroic effort to save Nam. Deductions for Nixon pardon.

    Carter – B Meddled in rescue effort but at least made the attempt. Should not have allowed Shah in to begin with. He recoverd and made good decisions that ultimately led to all the Hostages coming home alive. Gets extra credit for risky negotiations leading to Egypt/Isreali peace.

    Reagan – D- How this man is so revered by so many is beyond me. Made atrocious decisions related to trading arms for hostages. And besides, many hostages were killed anyway. He gets further deductions for Marines in Lebanon debacle. He stays away from an F by deciding to negotiate with Gorbechev.

    Bush Sr. B – Recognized the Iraq tar baby for what it was and ended mission without further escalation. Losses points for idiotic Panama invasion.

    Clinton – A- Great job in preventing Millineum disaster. Appropriate use of air power without unnecessary use of ground forces. Stayed out of trouble spots like Iraq/Iran. Learned valuable lessons from Black Hawk down episode.

    Bush Jr. F – Really what can I add that hasn’t already been said about this sorry excuse for a leader. He reads My Pet Goat while the nation is under attack. He lies about WMD intelligence. He fails to get Osama then says “he just doesn’t spend that much time thinking about him any more”. He even failed in the tough decisions on the home front after Katrina.

    Obama – A Just based on the Bin Laden raid alone he has shown his strength as a leader under pressure.

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  5. Brad

    Bud, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts in such detail. Wow, and I thought I had a tendency to be hard on Reagan…

    Of course, it’s that partisanship — Republicans flunk totally, Democrats rule with only the LBJ exception (and of course, it is an axiom of antiwar Democrats that LBJ must be heavily criticized, even though you go a bit out of your way to keep from flunking him — he didn’t go nuclear? Yay, Lyndon!).

    Take the “My Pet Goat” thing. There’s a perfect litmus test. If you’re inclined to never give the guy a break, you criticize him for that. If you are, you recognize that that could have happened to anybody.

    You know where I was when the Twin Towers were hit? I was in a boring weekly senior staff meeting — the must-attend gathering of all the people who report to the publisher and a few of their key subordinates (news, editorial, advertising, circulation, HR, production, etc.).

    At one point, someone from the newsroom interrupted to tell us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The managing editor (one of two representatives at the meeting from the newsroom) excused himself and went down to the newsroom. The rest of us continued our meeting. The picture in my head at that point was of a Piper Cub or something with a confused pilot. A big story, yes, but not earth-shattering. And certainly not something editorial (as opposed to news) had to worry about immediately.

    Then the managing editor came back in — ANOTHER plane had hit the WTC. That was it. There was little doubt what this meant. The meeting immediately broke up, except for a few of us who huddled to plan an extra. I offered to write a column for the extra so that it would have an opinion element. After scanning what little was known out on the wires (and there was a lot of inaccurate speculation at that moment, although the core of the story was clear), I took about 20 minutes to write that column.

    Then we all turned to planning coverage for the next day’s paper. I actually attended the news meeting (the last time I did that, and perhaps the first time since I’d been in editorial) so I’d know what they were up to in real time as I planned what we would do for the next day in editorial. There was so little known that I needed to make sure I knew anything anyone else in the building knew. Then I went and wrote copy for the next day, and we got THOSE pages out.

    Anyway, my point is… from the time we got the first report until the time we realized what was happening and kicked it into overdrive, I probably could have read “My Pet Goat” multiple times…

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  6. Brad

    Good point. But everybody liked Ford… and people like to hold up W’s daddy as a way of criticizing W.

    I liked his Daddy, too. And even though I believe it would have been best to get done with Saddam while we had the forces in-theater (and twice as many assets as we would later have in 2003, which would have allowed for an actual occupation that would have prevented the rise of the insurgency), I understand why he held back when he did. That doesn’t mean I give him a pass on encouraging Iraqis to rise up against Saddam and then standing by while they were slaughtered. That was shameful.

    But mostly, I liked the elder Bush. My biggest problem with him in 88 was that I felt he had been diminished by serving under Reagan for 8 years. I had liked Bush in 1980, but I felt like he had had to make his own views subservient to Reagan’s for so long that I respected him less. By 2002, though, he had mostly redeemed himself in my eyes.

    Same thing happened with Al Gore. I had always liked him, going back to multiple interactions with him during our Tennessee days. I liked him a lot more than I did Clinton. But 8 years being subordinate to Clinton, and somewhat remaking himself in Clinton’s political image (while not being NEARLY as good at it) made me like him less by the time 2000 rolled around.

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  7. Doug Ross

    I think Obama deserves an incomplete so far. I’ll judge him by where we are with Iraq and Afghanistan in December of 2012.

    Agree with Bud on Bush II and Reagan. I have the impression that GW Bush never made a decision in his life that wasn’t preceded by asking someone else “Hey, pardner, what do you think”. All hat, no cattle.

    As for Reagan, his second term was pure acting. His mind was probably already affected by Alzheimers and he was coddled and packaged all the way to the finish line.

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  8. Doug Ross

    And GW Bush gets an F from me also for My Pet Goat, Mission Accomplished, Heckuva a Job Brownie, wimping out on Social Security reform, presiding over huge deficits, No Child Left Behind, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney…

    Easily the worst President of my lifetime.

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  9. bud

    That was it. The meeting immediately broke up, except for a few of us who huddled to plan an extra.
    -Brad

    I couldn’t have illustrated my point any better. W walked into the classroom AFTER hearing news of the first plane. That was his “Piper Cub” moment. He sat there with a deer in the headlights look for 5 minutes AFTER hearing news of the SECOND plane. Apparently there was no “That was it” moment. He didn’t need to kick it into overdrive he just needed to politely excuse himself. Did it take the news people 5 minutes to get moving after the SECOND plane hit?

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  10. Steven Davis

    “Same thing happened with Al Gore. I had always liked him, going back to multiple interactions with him during our Tennessee days.”

    Were you the one who broke Gore’s internet invention story?

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  11. bud

    On Doug’s recommendation I’ll give Obama an incomplete. I just had a great sense of pride as an American with the way this raid succeeded. We should all wait on facts and other challenges before assigning a final grade though.

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  12. Burl Burlingame

    Carter may have been fairly hands-on in the Iran rescue attempt, but the mission failed because of an accident in the desert. Once the CH-53 and the C-130 collided, it was all over, and Carter wasn’t piloting either aircraft.

    We can probably forgive John Brennan for being over-excited. He’s been chasing bin Laden for 15 years, night and day.

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  13. tim

    One should not forget that this is not the first SEAL risk Obama has taken.

    2 years ago almost exactly (April 12, 2009), he okayed the very risky kill shot on the Somali pirates, freeing the captive captain.

    He demonstrated then that he has a pair.

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  14. Steven Davis

    Interesting tidbit, Panetta admitted on NBC Nightly News that some of the information gained in locating Bin Laden came from “advanced interrogation techniques” (waterboarding) on prisoners at Gitmo. Obama has outlawed waterboarding. Panetta could not say whether or not this information could have been obtained by other means.

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  15. Steven Davis

    I’m interested in hearing what bud thinks the president should have done. What could the president have done in those 5 minutes to change things? Not every situation need be responded to by hysterics.

    This is the first I’m hearing that Bush knew of the first plane before entering the classroom.

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  16. bud

    This is the first I’m hearing that Bush knew of the first plane before entering the classroom.
    -Stephen

    That’s common knowledge. I’ll try to find a link.

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  17. Steven Davis

    bud, while you’re at it let us know what Bush should have done during those first 5 minutes.

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  18. Mike

    It’s hard to prove a statement like “we got Osama because of Obama.” We may have gotten him regardless – like if is was a President Hillary Clinton, or President Mitt Romney, or President John Spratt – we still would have gotten him.

    Reply
  19. Joanne

    What I like is that Obama is letting the professionals do the work they are trained to do.

    I miss that in my job. It would be nice if the people trained for the job were not second guessed by the PIC.

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  20. Doug Ross

    @Steven

    Acted like a President instead of a puppet? Taken charge instead of hopping onto a plane to an underground bunker? Not attack Iraq in retaliation?

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  21. Mark Stewart

    Here’s what I did that fateful morning: I immediately realized that the North Tower had been hit by a large plane (my career involved such judgments), then I said to my wife that it would be okay for her to go to work in lower Manhattan – where she ended up watching from her office the people jumping from the burning towers. Then I took the subway myself to work and watched the second plane explode while standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue. When I got to my office I listened on the phone to my friend dying on the 87th floor of the North Tower, trapped with every other person in my firm’s Lower Manhattan office that morning.

    Bin Ladin is dead. Can we just move on now?

    The world for many will never be as it was. That’s been a constant through human history and not unique to just 9/11.

    Sorry, but all this contemplation over an evil man’s being and demise really bothers me. Can we just move on? Evaluating Presidential performance is fine; but not in this context. We need to turn away from Bin Ladin, not forget, but not give him more. time to either.

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  22. Burl Burlingame

    The “My Pet Goat” thing is always a cheap shot. Bush was pushing literacy (something that Laura B was fond of) at a preplanned event, and the minutes he sat there was when his handlers were trying to figure out what was actually happening. The first plane impact, almost everyone thought, had been an accident.

    On the other hand, telling terrorists to “Bring it on!” is the height of irresponsible idiocy.

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  23. bud

    To Steven and all the others who don’t seem to understand what the job of the president is let me explain. The POTUS is the commander in chief of the armed forces. It is his job to make the toughest decisions regarding the use of our military during times of war. The president and the president alone has the authority to make certain, difficult decisions such as when to order that a civilian airliner be shot down to prevent a much larger catastrophe.

    The president cannot make an informed decision unless he is properly briefed about the pertinent facts. And he cannot be informed if he is otherwise engaged. As important as it is to be a visible presence to promote a reading program it is the presidents primary job to act as commander in chief.

    The excuse that Bush did not want to alarm the school children is bogus on 2 levels. First, the safety of the children (and the POTUS) should come first over any panic issue. Second, who says he had to cause a panic? A simple but immediate, “I have an important issue to deal with and must excuse myself. Thanks for allowing me into your classroom” would not have caused undue alarm. Within a minute or 2 the children and teachers would understand the situation. But the president absolutely needed to IMMEDIATELY excuse himself after being informed of the 2nd plane.

    The folks at The State understood the urgency of the situation and immediately focused on their coverage of the event. You didn’t see Brad and his collegues looking around the room starry eyed for 5 minutes. This was the worst 5 minute episode in the history of the presidency.

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  24. Doug Ross

    @bud

    “This was the worst 5 minute episode in the history of the presidency.”

    Clinton and Monica in the room off the Oval Office probably runs a close second.

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  25. Brad

    Yeah… I immediately had a bunch of worse moments run through my head when Bud said that. But I figured what’s the point? Bud’s on a roll; you can’t stop him when he’s like that…

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  26. Brad

    First thing that ran through my mind — because basically we’re talking about EMBARRASSING moments, not horrible malfeasance or something — was JFK and Marilyn Monroe. But that wasn’t such an awful moment if you were JFK, I guess. I remember reading once that she confided after being with the president that she thought she had made his back feel better. I’ll bet she did.

    But yeah, Clinton and Monica is way more of an insult to the dignity of the office. Most people think Marilyn Monroe and at least think JFK had taste. Not so much with ol’ Bill, who was rather indiscriminate. Not to mention the disgusting element of her being an intern. You don’t have to be a feminist to be appalled at such an abuse of power over someone.

    I also thought of Nixon on some of those tapes…

    I gather that there were a lot of bad moments during Grant’s administration. And personally, I’ve always been kind of embarrassed by the whole time that Andrew Jackson was president…

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  27. Steven Davis

    @bud – talk to me like a 3 year old and I’ll treat you like I’m 3 years old… btw – I didn’t even read past the first paragraph. Bush had a cabinet full of people capable of handling the immediate need. Do we even know what Bush was told after the 2nd plane hit? Could he have handled it better, yes… is it a huge deal, not in my book. What could he have said or done within that 5 minute period that would have made any difference? Nothing.

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  28. Brad

    Oh, and Joanne — LOVED your comment about trusting professionals to do their jobs. Couldn’t agree more. I think that about a lot of things.

    For instance… whenever Congress (and it does this whichever party is in charge) gets all worked up and wants to engage in criminal investigation and have hearings and hire a special prosecutor, I always want them to back off, shut up and let the people paid to conduct such investigations — the FBI, the SEC, US Attorneys — do their jobs without all the political hoopla. If the allegations have merit, charges will be brought. If not, they won’t. And we move on.

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  29. tim

    Unless the US Attorneys served in the Bush White House, then can them for not bending to political pressure.

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  30. Steven Davis

    If you were embarrassed by Grant and Jackson, you should have been around when Taft and Van Buren were in office.

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  31. bud

    Amen to what Brad said. Although I would argue that the Republicans pull this “special prosecutor” stunt a whole lot more than Democrats.

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  32. Bart

    Agree it was because of Obama we were able to get Osama Bin Laden. Obama was provided actionable intelligence months ago and he authorized pursuing it. During the entire process, Obama was involved in meetings and kept up with the progress of any new developments. When it was confirmed with as much certainty as possible Bin Laden was in the compound, he gave the go ahead to execute the plan and take him out. Absolutely, it was because of Obama the man is dead. That is unless someone else is occupying the White House and we haven’t been informed.

    Obama made the right decision and he deserves credit for success of the operation. It was under his watch and as we all know, right or wrong, if anything goes well under your watch, the credit is yours, if it goes badly, the blame is yours, just ask Carter. President Obama completed the job and should enjoy his moment under the sun. There are too few as it is.

    On another subject, maybe the 5 or 10 minutes Bush spent reading The Pet Goat to a room full of 2nd graders might reflect better if you were to read the accounts of that morning from students who were there.

    A Time Magazine article on Yahoo! today about that morning is interesting reading. Some of the kids relate and reflect on how Bush handled himself that morning and how they immediately picked up on the fact that something was very wrong.

    The ones interviewed described that morning as being a seminal moment in their lives and how Bush helped them with his calm demeanor and consideration of the moment and of how they might react. If I were to trust an honest appraisal from anyone, it would be theirs, not the ideological ranting of a Bush hater.

    The comments following the article are interesting as well. Some of Bush’s harshest critics were complimentary and changed their opinions of his handling of the situation. Others will continue to demagogue the moment.

    In a typical Pavlovian reaction, when Bush’s name is mentioned, they start their incessant barking about how terrible he was as a president and bring up an incident I dare say they believe they would have handled with perfect adeptness and aplomb. Obama is not being spared from the idiocy either. Pavlov would be proud.

    But, self delusion is difficult to overcome, isn’t it? All one needs to is read or observe any far right or far left purveyor of their own propaganda.

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  33. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Wow, Mark
    I’m sorry you and your wife had such a bad experience on 9/11. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I think you make such a valid point. Let’s stop giving Osama any more attention, and thus validation.

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  34. Bart

    @ Mark,

    I share your sentiments and your point is valid. I agree with Kathryn’s comments.

    Unfortunately, in the politically charged atmosphere we dwell in today, Osama Bin Laden will be the topic du jour until the press grows weary and need to pump ink into a fresh story or incident. When the Bin Laden story has been drained dry and all of the glory claimed on both sides is exhausted, then maybe we can move on.

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  35. Joanne

    @ Mark, absolutely. Time to just…reflect.

    And your comment about your wife watching the people jump from the Towers…this is my nightmare-memory. And all I saw was a photo on the cover of one of the New York papers on a special that night. I was stunned. Still think about it.

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  36. Pat

    For Mark Stewart: So sorry, Mark. I am at a loss for the right words. Please know I care for you and all who have this personal connection.

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  37. Mark Stewart

    Everyone has their 9/11 story. Mine is no worse than most.

    The point that I was thinking about as I wrote about mine was that while 9/11 impacted the lives of tens of thousands who were caught up in the attacks it directly affected literally millions of people, millions of families. Then it rippled out further like the blanketing of dusk falling across the land.

    My first thought when I heard that bin Ladin was dead and his body in American possession was that I hoped they would bury him at sea. But that’s all I felt; not celebratory, not contemplative, not even numb – just nothing.

    Reply

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