President Obama was gracious toward President Bush and President Clinton
in his comments about the killing of Osama bin Laden, and he was right
to do so.
So much of our politics has become a useless Kabuki dance where everyone takes predictable, predetermined positions in a ritual that puts most normal Americans to sleep. Let me part from the Kabuki here.
President Bush made one major mistake. He became so fixated about the Iraq war that he took his eye off the bin Laden ball. This led to bin Laden's escape at Tora Bora and diverted resources from the killing of bin Laden toward the Iraq war, over the private objection of many military commanders who advised otherwise.
I remember this period very clearly. I had largely been out of politics for a decade, and after 9-11 became involved again, only to learn about the plans to invade Iraq, which I opposed from the beginning.
Let’s be clear, and let’s be fair. At the time that Bush made what I consider the grave mistake of putting the Iraq war ahead of the Afghanistan war and killing bin Laden, almost all high-level Democrats supported Bush on Iraq. Unfortunate, but true.
It is perfectly fair for Bill Press and others to draw distinctions between Obama and Bush on bin Laden, so long as we are honest about the fact that when Bush made what some of us consider a major mistake, most Democrats at the time went along with the mistake. I know. I tried to get them to oppose the Iraq war when they might have prevented it, but they would not.
As for Obama, Republicans should applaud the fact that he kept his eye relentlessly on the bin Laden ball. Obama performed his commander-in-chief role very effectively in his focused determination to kill bin Laden, despite other conflicts. For this Obama should be applauded by Republicans, Democrats and all Americans.
The killing of bin Laden will provide a real political boost to Obama, as it should. He earned it. The killing of bin Laden will tower above the rantings of the idiot Trump and the birthers with normal Americans who make up the vast majority of voters, as it should.
Obama deserves great credit. He was right in originally opposing the Iraq war. He was right to keep his focus on killing bin Laden. He was right being generous to President Bush. This thought may not play to the galleries in our Kabuki debates, but that's the way it is, as I see it.