In the four mostly grim years that Barack Obama has been president of these United States, he has made one, and only one, decision that has united Americans, drawn plaudits from both sides of the aisle, and substantially advanced the interests of our country. That, of course, would be his decision to order the killing of Usama bin Laden, the mass murderer who had planned the deaths of nearly three thousand Americans a decade before.
It was no accident that following the death of bin Laden his approval rating spiked and he enjoyed his only period of 50% plus support since ending his first year in office.
It’s amazing to contemplate your political reward if you keep the country first in mind.
But that was then, this is now.
Now Obama is fully engaged in the grubby business of re-election, something he has focused on to the exclusion of his day job.
Tuesday, President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan in order to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Hamid Karzai. He will address the nation this evening.
Underneath this dramatic diplomatic show, however, it is not difficult to see that the president's trip is just another campaign stop for President Obama, one in which he will politicize the one-year anniversary of Usama bin Laden’s death and take credit for what was no doubt a team effort that began long before he took office.
Furthermore, in a new low for political campaign commercials, a business with virtually no standards to begin with, Obama’s latest paid political ad shows him discussing his decision to attack bin Laden’s compound and of course claiming full credit for the successful raid. -- Never mind the years of intelligence work and the thousands of man hours expended by countless dedicated professionals to track and isolate bin Laden. Never mind the bravery of the SEAL team that actually carried out the mission.
That’s not all.
Subtlety has never been President Obama's strong suit, and so he has also gone on to question whether Republican Mitt Romney would have made the same decision. Can’t he leave anything to the imagination? The commercial is now a full-blown attack ad on his political opponent.
Finally, his campaign drags poor Bill Clinton into this mess as the narrator, praising Obama’s courage, decision-making and decisiveness.
Why would Clinton participate in this?
It's my best guess that he desperately wants to be accepted by the Obama inner circle and still feels he is on probation with them for his wife’s unforgivable sin of running against the “Chosen One.”
There is really little precedent for politicizing a national security decision in such a blatant manner. “Mission Accomplished” seems almost quaint by comparison.
Most incumbents have used a version of the “burdens of the presidency” reelection campaign ad with varying degrees of effectiveness (Reagan and Nixon yes, Jimmy Carter, not so much), but the focus was on more general matters of statecraft and the need to consider the country’s interest ahead of partisan concerns -- just the opposite of Obama’s message.
While his governing philosophy mirrors European socialism, Obama has the uncanny ability to easily slip back into his role as bare-knuckled Chicago politician when the situation warrants.
He campaigns in regal style and mostly on the American taxpayer's dime.
He routinely publicizes names of Republican donors and then castigates and mocks their motives.
News reports indicated this week that he has looted HHS coffers to fund a “demonstration project” which, according to the Government Accountability Office, is a thinly disguised slush fund to postpone Medicare Advantage cuts for seniors beyond the November elections, cuts mandated by his signature achievement, ObamaCare.
It’s an old story now, but it bears repeating: The president elected on a promise of “hope and change” feels his only route to reelection is dividing America, castigating his political opponents, and even politicizing great matters of national security.
Ronald Reagan was fond of saying, “Facts are stubborn things.” Sadly for the president, he cannot run away from his record no matter how many political ads he runs, and he will have to answer for that in November.
Frank Donatelli is Chairman of GOPAC, the center for educating and electing the next generation of Republican leaders.
A longtime Republican political activist, Frank Donatelli is executive vice president and director of federal public affairs for McGuireWoods Consulting LLC, and serves as counsel with McGuireWoods LLP. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain tapped Frank to serve as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee, where he coordinated the RNC’s fundraising and organizing activities directly with the McCain-Palin presidential campaign. Frank is the former chairman of GOPAC, an organization dedicated to educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders. He previously served as Political Director for President Ronald Reagan.