They went there.

Is anyone surprised by this? I’m not sure I expected this particular attack to be leveled so early in the campaign, but there was no doubt it was coming. And if you are going to put out an ad this shameless, why not stoop even lower and time it’s release to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Bin Laden’s death for maximum political effect.

Now what I do find perhaps a little surprising is the messenger chosen to deliver this. But on second thought, is there anyone with more credibility than Bill Clinton when it comes to talking about spineless decision-making and Bin Laden? In a word, no:

[Sandy] Berger ambled down the stairwell and entered the Sit[uation] Room. He picked up the phone at one of the busy controller consoles and called the president. Amazingly, President Clinton was not available. Berger tried again and again. Bin Laden was within striking distance. The window of opportunity was closing fast. The plan of attack was set and the Tomahawk [missile] crews were ready. For about an hour Berger couldn’t get the commander in chief on the line. Though the president was always accompanied by military aides and the Secret Service, he was somehow unavailable. Berger stalked the Sit Room, anxious and impatient.

Finally, the president accepted Berger’s call. There was discussion, there were pauses – and no decision. The president wanted to talk with his secretaries of Defense and State. He wanted to study the issue further. Berger was forced to wait. The clock was ticking. The president eventually called back. He was still indecisive. He wanted more discussion. Berger alternated between phone calls and watching the clock.

Ultimately it was too late of course, and this opportunity in 1998 to nail Bin Laden and avert the horrific attacks of 9/11 was lost.

In truth, this really wasn’t much of a “gutsy call” on President Obama’s part: the ramifications of not making the call would have probably been far worse politically for the President than if the mission had gone wrong. Given Clinton’s history, President Obama could have ill afforded to become the second Democratic president to pass on a prime opportunity to capture or kill Bin Laden. And in terms of national security considerations, it was practically a no-brainer. Since 9/11 our elite special forces have undoubtedly conducted raids on foreign soil just as dangerous, and diplomatically sensitive, as this one. They are not all successes, and tragically missions of far less import have resulted in the loss of some our nation’s bravest and dedicated warriors. The Commander-in-Chief is expected to make these decisions, and he would be better served by following the example of those who put much more than their careers on the line in fulfilling this mission, and let his actions speak for themselves.

Update: Was Romney’s quote about Bin Laden taken out of context? Sure looks like it, via Ace.