Can Obama really use his foreign policy record to help him win in November?
posted at 6:07 pm on April 30, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
In the view of TIME’s Jon Meacham, the answer to the question that forms the title of this post is not only a resounding “yes” but that Obama would be a fool not to use this newly minted ace in the hole. The president is, Meacham suggests, a “ferocious political warrior” whose “stepfather taught him to box in Indonesia” and who “still remembers the feel and smell of the Everlast gloves they wore as he endured punches until he found the strength and the skill to land blows of his own.”
In Meacham’s world, Mitt Romney will be down for the count two minutes into the first round, let alone “have the steel to order the 2011 operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.”
This appears to be the prevailing view among liberals now that Obama has decided to make his take-down of Osama bin Laden a centerpiece of his campaign for reelection. Meacham goes so far as to impute impotent rage to Republicans who he claims now feel in their heart of hearts that Obama is “beating us up and we don’t have anything much to say to stop it.” As proof of Obama’s invincibility on this front, Meacham rehashes that partial quote of Mitt Romney that reads, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” The line, which also appears in the president’s new campaign video “One Chance,” is heavily decontextualized. The original quote from a 2007 interview is as follows:
I think, I wouldn’t want to over-concentrate on Bin Laden. He’s one of many, many people who are involved in this global Jihadist effort. He’s by no means the only leader. It’s a very diverse group—Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and of course different names throughout the world. It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that. [Emphasis added]
But I digress. Jon Meacham is not the only left-leaning pundit to predict that Obama can make hay using his foreign policy cred. The Washington Post’s Charles Lane thinks so too. Lane was a panelist on FOX News Sunday, where he noted that Obama’s foreign policy strengths go beyond his merely eliminating the terrorist mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Lane pointed out that Obama has also, atypically for a Democrat, used drone strikes unsparingly to neutralize enemies throughout the Middle East.
But the operative phrase in the previous sentence is atypical for a Democrat. Historically, Democrats have been strenuously anti-war. (Anyone remember “Bush lied, thousands died”?) Many still are, even though the warlord-in-chief is one of their own. Last week, The Guardian reports, a summit in Washington sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve, and Code Pink sought to increase awareness of howObama’s “clandestine drone strikes strategy” was killing innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen. This conference occurred before the Obama reelection team rolled out its video boasting that the president is the tougher of the two hombres vying for the Oval Office when it comes to dealing with threats to U.S. security.
Now that this has become a chip in the high-stakes battle for the White House, is there any reason to suppose there won’t be more summits by angry liberals, some perhaps under the banner “Obama lied, thousands died”? Is there any reason to suppose, when it comes time to cast a ballot, that they won’t vote for the more peace-loving GOP candidate?
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