Why Obama owns bin Laden

It’s true that by explicitly bringing Romney into the ad, the Obama campaign veers from the subtle to the unnecessarily heavy-handed. Yes, Romney said the things Obama says he said in the ad, like “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

Here, however, is the issue. Since at least 1968, Democrats have traditionally been more circumspect than their Republican foes in presidential politics. The lesson of the Clinton years and of Obama’s win of both the nomination and the general election in 2008 is that Democrats need to be as tough as JFK was (tough was a favorite Kennedy term). Is the bin Laden ad fair to Romney? No, not really. But politics is not for the faint of heart.

I take what President Clinton says in the ad seriously: “Look, he knew what would happen,” Clinton says of Obama. “Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there and it hadn’t been bin Laden? Suppose they had been captured or killed? The downside would have been horrible. But he reasoned, ‘I cannot in good conscience do nothing.’ He took the harder, more honorable path and the one that produced, in my opinion, the more honorable and best result.”

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