May 6, 2011
Obama: The Unlikely AssassinBy Geoffrey P. Hunt
A bullet to the head of the world's most notorious terrorist was ordered by President Obama. This stunningly courageous act has been greeted with bouquets of thanksgiving and garlands of awe. The demise of bin Laden at the hands of Obama is the stuff of legend, a perfect narrative to turn rightside-up Obama's reputation, seen otherwise as chronically indecisive, deferring risk-taking to others, acting only when the outcome, in his favor, is assured.
But this narrative is so breathtaking in its contradiction to be equally implausible. Even Obama's own s'mores-around-the-campfire companions have described his role in the Libyan intervention, still muddled and unresolved, as "leading from behind." How is it possible this president, reluctant to assert American power, even loath to admit its exceptional reach and moral imperative, ordered such an assassination?
Because maybe it didn't happen exactly as we've been led to believe. At least it is unlikely to have happened according to the popular narrative. Because the popular narrative has the scent of convenience and desperation.
How best to revive the sagging fortunes of a president with an incoherent foreign policy and beset with debt and deficits, persistent high unemployment, escalating energy and food prices -- all wrecking what remains of the American dream? Inject some Teddy Roosevelt testosterone into an anemic and flaccid president. Have Obama be the one who ordered the bullet to the head.
Yet isn't it all just too fitting, too precious, the classic deus ex machina? Of course, such a notion that Obama didn't actually order the killing must be seen as another irrational posture taken by those hopelessly afflicted with Obama derangement syndrome, pathologically unable to give him credit for anything good. I plead guilty, skeptical of such a conversion, a Halley's Comet style transformation from type -- defying the laws of physics and biochemistry once in a lifetime.
Are accounts promoting a wholly different narrative a work of fiction, instead?
A different storyline would better fit our existential view of Obama, where the decision-making heroics belong to someone else. Per chance CIA Director Leon Panetta, ably supported by General David Petraeus, backed up by Hillary Clinton, acted in agency. Indeed it would not be surprising if this trio summoned Obama from the golf course only when the mission, heretofore unknown by the president, was well underway. Obama would have had little choice but to accede to the decision, "leading from behind" happy to flow with the formation executing an abrupt about-face. Was his speech to the nation scripted by this trio of old school operatives? What would Obama have said if the mission had failed?
Could you visualize Obama writing beforehand a speech taking full responsibility if the Bin Laden assassination attempt had been botched? It is well known from all contemporaneous accounts General Dwight Eisenhower ordered the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944, with three words: "OK. Let's Go."
Perhaps less well known is the draft of a communication written in his hand taking full responsibility if the invasion had met with catastrophe: "...If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
More likely failure in Abbottabad would have ushered in denials and weak acknowledgements, "well yes I agreed to the order but expressed my doubts about its probabilities for success. I had every reason to believe Director Panetta and General Petraeus's advice was sound." Doesn't that seem more aligned with Obama's leadership-in-absentia that we have come to expect?
The most plausible narrative is that the bin Laden assassination, on Obama's watch, is another decorative knot in the symbolic thread of Obama's ascendancy to the White House, tied by someone else. How an obscure less than one term US Senator with a skimpy resume and undistinguished career as a law school lecturer, community organizer or State Senator from Illinois was packaged and delivered, complete with teleprompter by an adoring main stream media, laying down palm fronds in his path.
How Obama eagerly relegated to the far left wing of the Democratic Party in both chambers hijacking of the nation's agenda with stimulus spending and health care initiatives, bankrupting us and our descendents. Meanwhile Obama, content to leave the dirty work to members of his own party, as a result of which most of whom were defeated in the ensuing election, merely showed up at the signing ceremony.
How members of his own party, contemplating the ashes from the Nov 2 electoral wildfire, dragged him into the December tax bill conference. Then after signing the bill he accepted the accolades from independents eagerly swallowing a new storyline that Obama was now being so pragmatically Clintonesque well on his way to securing a second term.
How he was manipulated and cajoled into the Libya adventure by three women under a humanitarian cover, thinking their intervention would be akin to school teachers at recess separating upper school bullies from beating up younger children. And now ordering the mission to fire a bullet into bin Laden's head.
Obama remains the reluctant accomodationist, quite willing to leave the hard decisions to others, positioned to deflect the consequences if unsuccessful, taking credit only for outcomes that would add a chapter to his fabricated narrative.
Left to his own counsel, would Obama have loaded the weapon let alone pulled the trigger? Was this an authentic act of extinguishing evil or mere political expropriation? The answers to such questions are perhaps less important than that such questions can be asked. And not a single answer, so far, makes any sense.