Last night’s announcement that the US had killed Osama bin Laden was a night for all Americans to feel some measure of victory — or joy that justice had been done, or relief, or closure, or sober reflection on the past near-decade of war, or some complex combination of those feelings.
But for some Americans, the news was a signal to lapse into simple partisan hackery. Don’t get me wrong. Bin Laden’s death will have some partisan political impact, and it is the job of some to discuss it. And the 24/7 news cycle churns ever faster in the age of social media. Obviously, people are going to start raising the topic today. Yet there remains something disturbing about the mentality that leaps immediately to partisan politics upon hearing war news.
Michelle Malkin notes a couple of examples of this mentality. The crass college kids chanting “Yes, we can!” and “Four more years!” outside the White House might almost be excused their immaturity from relative youth, but DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz — who overtly demanded credit for Pres. Obama — and Rep. Gary Ackerman — who twice commented that this is the “mission accomplished” moment Pres. Bush “fantasized” about –really ought to be old enough to know better.
The childish “mission accomplished” jab was by no means limited to Ackerman. ThinkProgress, run and funded by the top echelons of the Democratic Party, was tweeting it during or just after Pres. Obama’s announcement. Prominent lefty blogger Atrios beat them to it. For TNR’s self-confessed Bush-hater Jonathan Chait, it was downright personal: “May 1: Hitler dead, OBL dead, Jonathan Chait born. Bush tried to ruin my b-day w/Mission Accomplished photo-op, but failed.” Chait makes the subtext of the “mission accomplished” jabs explicit, reminding us how many on the left were angry over the idea of “mission accomplished” in 2003 and how happy they were to oversimplify Pres. Bush’s speech that day (which spoke of the “difficult work” left to do in pacifying parts of Iraq, hunting down Saddam’s regime, and transitioning to a democracy) to inflict political damage on the war effort during the insurgency in Iraq. That’s why the immediate reaction of FireDogLake’s Marcy Wheeler was: “In 2006, when they got Zarqawi, I had to remind the nutters on the plane celebrating that OBL was the guy we were REALLY after.” Her co-blogger, David Dayen, reached further back for his dig: “Was GHW Bush sitting with a member of the bin Laden family this time too?”
Although I already mentioned ThinkProgress (and alluded to the Center for American Progress that runs it), one of its star bloggers, Matt Yglesias, deserves special mention for at least blatantly announcing that he was engaging in “some political point scoring.” It deserves that mention in part because Yglesias has previously entertained the idea that John Ashcroft was a bigger threat than bin Laden and even yesterday suggested that bin Laden was not a big deal in his “serious” take on the news, except as a pretext for pulling out of Afghanistan. It’s also worth noting that at least a couple of the commenters to his point-scoring post were seemingly uncomfortable with how narrow and cheap Yglesias was. One can imagine that the reaction of the typical swing voter to the atttitude of people like Yglesias, Markos Moulitsas and Michael Moore is even worse. The left is lucky that independents likely won’t see this infantile behavior directly.
These leftosphere reactions are ultimately as stupid as they are shameless. For example, Bill Sher (of HuffPo and OurFuture) can snark: “Middle East democracy and Al Qaeda: two things President Obama took more seriously than President Bush,” which will come as news to the Iranians and Egyptians. Grist magazine’s David Roberts gloated: “We booted the cowboy and elected a black, liberal urbanite, and he’s the one who tracked down the bad guy. It’s just too, too delicious.” How does that look in light of the news that the intelligence ultimately leading to bin Laden’s death came from the harsh interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi? Indeed, what does it do for any progressive’s credibility to be cheering a unilateral, targeted assassination? Do they think that in Pakistan and other countries, Pres. Obama isn’t looking a lot like Sheriff Bart? The lefties highlighting the fact that Obama said during the 2008 campaign he would conduct such an operation — and criticizing Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain for disagreeing — are now siding with people like Andrew McCarthy, which is fine by me, but the blatant hackery involved should be embarrassing to the left.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel of stupid, however, is Peter Daou (Internet guru to the Kerry and Hillary Clinton campaigns) and Dave Weigel (fmr. JournoLister and current Slate blogger). Daou’s instant reaction: “That giant sucking sound? The air coming out of the entire GOP field tonight.” Weigel asked, “So, uh, who wants to run against this guy?”, suggesting the job would be left to Buddy Roemer. Nate Silver may have joined in the instant political pile-on, but was at least smart enough to notice that winning the first part of the Gulf War didn’t propel Pres. George H.W. Bush to reelection in 1992. That election turned instead on the economy and the deficit… which sounds awfully similar to today.
Of course, not everyone on the left was this crass. The Nation’s Ari Melber tweeted this morning: “Political experts are analyzing Obama’s “Osama Bounce” – proof that being a politico can warp your brain & your heart.” Moreover, I am sure that examples of kneejerk shamelessness can be found on the right. However, MoJo’s David Corn went looking for them and turned up a handful of blog commenters and a milblogger I never heard of — which may be why Corn stooped to lumping them in with angry jihadis. Corn apparently found no pundit as prominent as people like Chait, Kos, Moore, Yglesias, Sher, Roberts, Daou or Weigel — something for which the right can be proud.