Obama's 'gutsy' call not so gutsy

Mendy Finkel
"Suppose [the SEAL team had] been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for [Obama]. But he reasoned: I cannot in good conscience do nothing."

This, according to the latest Obama campaign ad, is why it was such a "gutsy call" for Obama to have ordered the raid on Bin Laden.  Besides the fact that this counterfactual argument is completely groundless (a point that I will get to in a moment), it's pretty telling that the administration's primary concern over the possibility of failed mission was the president's own political fortune, and not the lives of the Navy SEALS and their families.  And while this is hardly surprising, you would think the administration would be a little more tactful then to keep reminding everyone of this.  Yes, Mr. President, we are fully aware you were worried that the death or capture of members of the SEAL team would have been horrible for you.

This leads me to the second point.  It's simply absurd to assert that Obama would have suffered major political fallout from a failed mission.  We don't need to wonder what consequences Obama would have faced if a SEAL operation ended in tragedy because soon after the Bin Laden raid there was in fact a SEAL operation with a tragic ending.  In the summer of 2011, a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan killing 25 SEAL members onboard. 

If you cannot recall the political fallout Obama experienced as a result of this tragedy, there is good reason: there was none.  Even with most of the general public and media uncertain about the purpose or surrounding circumstances of that mission, Obama's feet were never held to the proverbial fire for its outcome.  And this shouldn't at all be surprising, since the GOP, and conservatives in general, haven't used military tragedies, scandals or setbacks as political weapons against the Obama administration.       

Still, I don't doubt that Obama truly believes that he would have been attacked mercilessly by his opponents had the Bin Laden raid been unsuccessful.  After all, this would have been Obama's natural response had the hypothetical positions been reversed, and it were a Republican president who presided over a failed mission to kill Bin Laden.  In other words, Obama is taking one of his unappealing instincts and ascribing it to other people.  In the world of psychology, this defense mechanism is known as "projection." 

So now, after spending the entire W. Bush presidency using military tragedies to score political points, it's quite natural for liberals such as Obama to project this type of behavior onto their political opponents.   

"Suppose [the SEAL team had] been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for [Obama]. But he reasoned: I cannot in good conscience do nothing."

This, according to the latest Obama campaign ad, is why it was such a "gutsy call" for Obama to have ordered the raid on Bin Laden.  Besides the fact that this counterfactual argument is completely groundless (a point that I will get to in a moment), it's pretty telling that the administration's primary concern over the possibility of failed mission was the president's own political fortune, and not the lives of the Navy SEALS and their families.  And while this is hardly surprising, you would think the administration would be a little more tactful then to keep reminding everyone of this.  Yes, Mr. President, we are fully aware you were worried that the death or capture of members of the SEAL team would have been horrible for you.

This leads me to the second point.  It's simply absurd to assert that Obama would have suffered major political fallout from a failed mission.  We don't need to wonder what consequences Obama would have faced if a SEAL operation ended in tragedy because soon after the Bin Laden raid there was in fact a SEAL operation with a tragic ending.  In the summer of 2011, a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan killing 25 SEAL members onboard. 

If you cannot recall the political fallout Obama experienced as a result of this tragedy, there is good reason: there was none.  Even with most of the general public and media uncertain about the purpose or surrounding circumstances of that mission, Obama's feet were never held to the proverbial fire for its outcome.  And this shouldn't at all be surprising, since the GOP, and conservatives in general, haven't used military tragedies, scandals or setbacks as political weapons against the Obama administration.       

Still, I don't doubt that Obama truly believes that he would have been attacked mercilessly by his opponents had the Bin Laden raid been unsuccessful.  After all, this would have been Obama's natural response had the hypothetical positions been reversed, and it were a Republican president who presided over a failed mission to kill Bin Laden.  In other words, Obama is taking one of his unappealing instincts and ascribing it to other people.  In the world of psychology, this defense mechanism is known as "projection." 

So now, after spending the entire W. Bush presidency using military tragedies to score political points, it's quite natural for liberals such as Obama to project this type of behavior onto their political opponents.