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May 02, 2012

Liberals: Eat It, Wingnuts. Obama's The Biggest Badass Since John Shaft.

Michael Tomasky, a professional annoyance, essentially writes "Suck It" 300 times and calls it a column. I don't want to link him, but you can find a link at Hot Air. Here's what he says:

How the GOP Became a Party of Whiners Over Osama

by Michael Tomasky May 1, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

Republicans love to act like tough guys. Yet it’s the Democrat in the White House who got bin Laden—and the GOP that’s throwing a temper tantrum about a modest Obama ad.

See, it works like this. The rule is: Only Republicans are allowed to even mention September 11. Because it happened on their watch, you see. In a rational world, that would count as a demerit—and indeed might have led to George W. Bush’s removal from office, or at least to far more strenuous demands that he offer proof that he took that August 6 PDB seriously. But in the ‘Americaland’ parallel-universe amusement-park ride the GOP took us all on over the past decade, it actually registers a plus, because it gives them the right to speak about how it felt to be in charge on that awful day, how hideously unknowable the burden was, etc. They own, so they believe, the stories, the images, the pain. So they’re allowed to speak for America on the subject in a way they believe Democrats are not.

“Given this context, it really grates their cheese that Obama, of all people, is the one who has earned the right to boast about killing bin Laden. Bush had seven years. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, no stone would be unturned in the search, he vowed. A mere few months later, Bush was ‘truly not that concerned about him.’ This was one of the most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever heard a president say. Imagine if Roosevelt had said that in the spring of 1942 about Admiral Yamamoto. Or indeed, imagine if Obama had come into office saying that. He’d have been … I guess I’m not allowed to say crucified, but something close to that. Instead, Obama did the opposite. He actually was concerned about where bin Laden was, and he did the brave thing that Bush notably and demonstrably failed to do.”

Here's my big problem: Regarding the "whining" accusation, he's right, and we have to stop.

There are three ways to handle Obama's victory lap. One is to rebut it and say, as Romney did, "even Jimmy Carter" would have made this call, and to ridicule Obama for believing this was a tough call.

That directly contradicts the claim/message being made. I support that.

Another is to ridicule Obama's absurd vanity, his smirk, his personal pride about bravery and skill that aren't his. All those "I's" in his bin Ladin announcement? Unearned vanity and misplaced swagger.

But the third approach is to simply insist that "Good manners require Obama to say nothing."

Look, no one's going to buy that. No one. Even I don't buy that. If Bush had killed Osama, I do not believe for one red hot second his campaign would have remained scrupulously silent on the issue.

There is no point peddling a line that everyone recognizes straight out of the box is perfect bullshit. I've said before I can get behind a crafty lie, but a silly lie which persuades no one at all? That doesn't even rise to the level of "lie."

That ad I posted yesterday by the veterans' group had several good lines of attack -- knocking King Barack I and his addiction to the Royal I. Getting justifiably outraged that Obama's ad stated that if SEALs had been captured or killed, it would have been "horrible... for him [Obama]."


But all the stuff about "Heroes not spiking the ball?" That may be true of soldiers but Obama's not a soldier and neither is Romney. (And I'm not sure it's entirely true of soldiers, either.) It just sounds like people saying "You're not allowed to mention this, because it helps you and hurts us!"

Which is not a useful method of shaping opinion. It contains and implicit confession that What's being discussed here is good for Obama and bad for his opponents. I think people process that automatically.

There's always something that rubs me the wrong way by suggesting You shouldn't say this for any reason other than ...because it's not true. To me, "because it's not true" is usually the only good reason to not say something. (I'm sure in particular situations, like troop movements, there are other reasons, but generally, "because it's not true" is the only reason.)

This reminds me of something Sean Hannity used to do on his TV show almost every night. Sometimes he would get lazy, and he would just read the litany of things that Democrats were saying about Bush. That he lied us into war, and so forth. But he just presented the litany of claims without rebutting them, and expected that the audience would just accept that the claims were inherently uncouth or terrible.

It really just sounded butthurt.

I think people are cynical and tend to not want to believe the best in people. I think they tend to look for a way to knock people down. I think this is even more true among true independents. They don't really love either party, so are even less inclined to think well of their politicians.

So I just think that appeals that rely, ultimately, on making a claim about our own Perfect Couthe are going to be rejected. I don't think they're going to buy that we are so Against Taking Political Advantage of Major Military Victories we wouldn't say anything.

Because I don't buy that. So I don't see why someone Not on the Team would.

The people we're hoping to influence don't want to think anything good of us. They want to think we're just self-serving hypocrites. That's the battlefield we're on -- we need to notice that.

But it's also true they don't want to think much good of Captain Kickass over there. I don't think they believe it was super-heroic to give a no-brainer order, and I do not believe they think Obama did that because He's Just a Super Guy. I think they're inclined to think he gave the order because 1, it's his job, and 2, because if he hadn't, there would have been Holy Hell to pay.

At the end of the day I just don't think you can convince people who aren't already on the team that you're Heroically Ethical and Selfless and Just Super Nice Guys. And any tact along those lines is going to fail.

And sound like bullshit. And sound like whining.

But the public should be reminded that capturing or killing bin Ladin had been a national imperative for ten years, and we have had SEAL teams in the area with the specific task of going after High Value Targets with a half hour's notice, and we have thousands of men and women monitoring phone calls and email exchanges to pin down bin Ladin's location.

With that ten-year national effort and billion dollar infrastructure in place -- what did Obama think all that was for?

I think it was there so that if we got a head's up on Osama's whereabouts, we could kill him. And I think there was a national commitment to that end.

Does he disagree? Does he think that capturing or killing Osama wasn't a national imperative, but rather more like something that would be nice but not necessary?

I think we are losing this issue by overreacting to it, and furthermore, by overreacting in the wrong way ("You mustn't say that!!! Horrors!") that seems to imply guilt on our part.

I think the right way to address it is to state the facts: This was, yes, a relatively easy call, given a ten year, tens of billions of dollars investments into doing exactly what the SEALs did a year ago. Those assets were not there for show. There was the expectation -- and the national imperative -- that they be used to kill bin Ladin, should we find him.

But just yelling "You can't say that!" makes it sound like we have something to hide, and must suppress the truth.

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posted by Ace at 12:19 PM

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