There’s more on the way.
In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for “spiking the football” on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.
“We’re looking to [put together] a coalition, to field SEALs and operators that want to come out publicly,” executive director of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel Arends, tells BuzzFeed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with former SEALs and current SEALs. I’ve been talking to operators in the community. There is palatable discontent.”…
Arends denies he’s trying to “swift boat” Obama, however, a phrase coined in the conservative attacks on the details of John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. “I’m not adverse to that term,” he says. “But we’re not going to run a swift boat campaign against him. We’re going to talk about the issues.”
Arends won’t identify the group’s donors but another Republican source tells BuzzFeed they’ll have money to air their ad in markets with military communities. (Aren’t those communities voting Romney anyway?) Serious question: Does Obama mind this line of attack? I understand why it’s potentially effective. Rule one in the Rove playbook is to attack your opponent’s strength until it becomes a weakness; that was the point of going after Kerry’s military record in 2004. Turning the Bin Laden raid into a story about Obama’s ego would break one of the biggest arrows in his electoral quiver. And needless to say, the optics of SEALs criticizing O for making the OBL raid all about him are … not so good for the White House. Are they worse, though, than Obama having to defend eight-plus percent unemployment? He’d much rather have an argument with conservatives over the OBL raid than the economy since every minute spent talking about Bin Laden is (a) a reminder that O did in fact give the order to liquidate the bastard, however shoddy his behavior might have been afterward, and (b) a minute not spent talking about the thoroughgoing crappiness of, oh, pretty much every other part of his record.
Rest assured that Axelrod and company are recruiting pro-Obama vets even as I write this to push back against VSA in case they gain traction. And the left, I expect, will welcome a chance to re-fight the 2004 campaign. Their bitterness about the “swift boat” campaign that year is palpable even now; I bet they’d love a rematch in which they get to point out that the mastermind of 9/11 took a bullet in the face on their guy’s command. Exit question: What exactly is the GOP line on Obama’s football-spiking? I heard people say 100 times this week that O has the right to celebrate the OBL raid for electoral purposes but that he shouldn’t have dragged Romney into it by drawing a contrast in the ad. VSA seems to be saying that it’s the celebration itself that’s the problem. How much celebrating qualifies as “excessive”?