Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden Dead, Question for Obama Fans

I don't need to link to a story, I mean come on, it's all over the news. But I have a question to the Obama fans who are already saying things like "Obama did what Bush couldn't, etc." or "Obama gets Osama," etc.

My question is this; how? With all due respect to the President (and for the record, I don't hate him, I think he's a phony politician like all of the rest of them but I don't think he's evil or anything), how can this be attributed to him? I am not a military tactics expert, I doubt that more than fifty people alive right now fully understand how Osama was killed or even if it was on purpose.

But to give a politician credit for an action carried out by the military, well, hmm, how can I put this, I need to see an explanation of what discretionary actions by the President led to this happening. I say discretionary to mean, did Obama do something that other Presidents might not have? A hypothetical situation: if military experts saw their chance, knew where Osama was, and presented their plan to the President, would it have made a difference whether Obama or McCain was in office? There's also the very good possibility that the President was more or less a bystander whose job it was was to simply give the okay to proposals from the military brass.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Obama, if this kill was a result of a discretionary action or hiring by Obama, if he put the man in place who came up with the plan or something, then fine, credit where credit is due. To this day I can freely give credit to politicians I otherwise don't care for for the actions they took that I approve of. Nixon, opening trade with China, Carter deregulating airlines and finally becoming more sensible on monetary policy (he appointed Volcker), Clinton signing welfare reform bills and a variety of other free trade and free market initiatives he took. Yes, some or perhaps all of these can be explained as a politician making the best choice to maximize popularity with voters and not out of governing skills or ideology. Doesn't matter to me.

But getting back to the main point, I foresee in the coming months many many refrains of "Obama did what Bush couldn't do," etc. I would just like people to think a bit harder about that. Is it really appropriate to credit everything that happens under a President's watch to that President? If somebody in the military had, say, murdered a civilian, do we give Obama the blame for that? Or do we only credit him with the good things and chalk up the bad things to happenstance? Republicans do the same thing. Lots of people just look for reasons to praise "their guy" or trash "the other guy." Doesn't make sense to me. Politicians, at their best, are just cogs. I don't care what brand the cog is or if it agrees with me, as long as it does what it's supposed to do.

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