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How Romney should have handled the Bin Laden raid

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The Romney camp really needs to get some competent spin doctors. So far their approach to the anniversary of Bin Laden's death has only succeeded in making their candidate look weak, whiny and shallow.

Romney's attack might have cost Obama some votes by reminding liberals and progressives that Obama's foreign policy has been a continuation of the same crypto-colonial approach that has been in place since Eisenhower. But Romney will undoubtedly have lost rather more votes to independent voters, and even Republicans, who would prefer a competent neo-con foreign policy than another clown show like the one delivered by the Bush administration.

Whether Romney likes it or not, most US voters consider eliminating Bin Laden to have been a success that President Obama deserves credit, and praise, for. Attempting to persuade them otherwise is a fool's errand, but what could the Romney camp have done instead?

Rather than trying to dismiss the attack as a decision that any US president would make, Romney should have done the opposite. Romney's biggest problem as the challenger is to demonstrate that he understands the job of President better than the incumbent. This week he had an opportunity to demonstrate that he is not just an empty suit with an eight figure going on nine bank account. Romney should have praised the President for taking a big risk, and backed it up with historical context to remind people that even though this particular raid succeeded, many similar raids that have failed.

Instead, Obama is getting to make those points [NBC]

“I did choose the risk,” the president said in an exclusive interview with Rock Center Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams. “The reason I was willing to make that decision of sending in our SEALs to try to capture or kill bin Laden rather than to take some other options was ultimately because I had 100 percent faith in the Navy SEALs themselves.”
Obama is not the first President to have authorized a raid on Bin Laden. Bill Clinton ordered a cruise missile attack in 1998. That is the attack Bush II referred to derisively saying "I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt."  The Clinton Administration considered a second attack but did not go through with it. There was even an attacked planned by the Bush administration in 2005, which Rumsfeld called off.

The Republican camp is currently busy trying to swiftboat Obama with fake stories about Navy SEALs angry with the Commander in Chief for taking credit for 'their' work. It is the same old Rovian strategy of trying to turn a weakness into a strength. They did it with Al Gore, with the fabricated story that he claimed to have invented the Internet, and then they did it by attacking John Kerry for his purple hearts, and now they are trying it against Obama for finally doing what a Republican president could do, kill bin Laden.

In fact, the bin Laden raid was a team effort, and even if a president has 100% faith in their commando team, no president can or should ever have the same degree of confidence in their intelligence service. The intelligence services might have got the wrong house or miss-judged the Pakistani air defenses or made any one of a hundred other missteps that could have led to catastrophe.

That is the reason that the raid was a team effort, and that team was not just SEAL Team 6 -- according to what we know today it included at least the CIA, the NSA and the State department. Claiming that 'any' President would have authorized the raid is nonsense.  The raid might have had to be called off for any one of hundreds of operational reasons.

In claiming that this was a decision any President would have made, Romney demonstrates that he does not understand that it was a decision that only a President could make.

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