Friday, 4 May 2012

The Road Is Long

Rather sick of hearing Mitt Romney bleating about how "even Jimmy Carter" would have given the order to take out bin Laden when the chance came.  Robert Farley has done a good job pointing out the fact that Obama's decision wasn't the unambiguously correct one at the time, and James Fallows has pointed out that Carter already made the same choice, with disastrous consequences (in fairness, I can just about believe Romney is trying to say "even Jimmy Carter would have made that call the day after Operation Eagle Claw").

There are legitimate conversations to be had on whether "I was the guy who ordered bin Laden be shot to death" is a kosher topic to run on, though it beats seven shades of shit out of Bush's re-election campaign message of "I've invaded a country for no reason and slaughtered tens of thousands of its civilians - do you really want to risk changing who's in charge right now?".  That's not really a debate anyone in the GOP can credibly participate in, not that that's stopped McCain. "Heroes don't brag", he tells us, which presumably means his approximately 215,472,838,111 references to his time in the Hanoi Hilton were just reminding us the guy can't fly for shit.

What's really being lost in all this though is the sense of a process.  It's not like both President Obama and Bizarro-States President mcCain would both have gotten the same call on the same day because an American tourist happened to see bin Laden popping to the shops in downtown Kabul.  The final call was the end result of three years of other decisions made by Obama's administration.  Maybe Romney was actually right in 2007 when he said hunting down Osama wasn't worth the time and money that could be otherwise be spent shattering Al-Qaeda as a whole.  Maybe President McCain's top secret for catching Osama (remember, heroes don't brag, but they do claim they alone can catch mass-murderers but won't say how unless they're put in charge of the country) would actually have gotten him faster than Obama managed.  These kind of counter-factuals are generally quite unpersuasive, but they're at least arguable.

What you don't get to do, though, is note that after three years of work, the last hurdle was really easy.  Even if that were true, and it wasn't, Mitt may as well pour scorn on FDR on the grounds that it was a no-brainer to have MacArthur and Nimitz sign off on the Japanese surrender.

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