Obama walks (and talks) softly, carries a big stick

With the outbreak of turmoil in the Middle East, conservatives have found fresh reasons to attack President Obama on national security issues. Some Republicans, notably Sen. John McCain, want Obama to attack more forcefully in Libya.
Others, including conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, have developed a new meme: Obama “leads from behind,” a style Krauthammer blasts as “ad hoc, erratic and ineffective.”
UPDATE: Political Wire has unearthed a 2008 quote from the impetuous McCain, who said back then that he would not go into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden. McCain told Larry King, “Larry, I’m not going to go there and here’s why: because Pakistan is a sovereign nation.”

The death of Osama bin Laden, in a raid executed under Obama’s explicit leadership, ought to quell that sort of foolish talk permanently. But it won’t. In about a week, conservatives will find a way to suggest that Obama’s leadership on foreign policy is weak.
That’s due to several factors, one being the typical partisan sniping against a president of the other party. Another is the decades-long caricature of Democrats as weak on defense. But another is more troubling — a deep-seating longing in some quarters for American dominance highlighted by arrogance, unilateralism, bellicosity and belligerence. There are many foreign policy experts, politicians and average voters who prefer an American president with a swagger — a bully-boy style with a shoot-from-the-hip way.
Remember George W. Bush? The fact that his style created more enemies, lowered America’s standing in the world and solved nothing doesn’t seem to matter to Obama’s critics. The fact that he has actually killed more terrorists than Bush did doesn’t seem to matter to the president’s critics.
I appreciate Obama’s measured approach. Heaven knows, I want a president who thinks long and hard before he sends men and women into harm’s way. I want a president who appreciates the fact that bellicosity helps our enemies and frustrates our friends. I want a president who’s a three-dimensional chess player, as Obama is. I want a president who doesn’t mind “leading from behind” if it gets the job done.
Obama won’t capture every jihadist, of course. He’s unlikely to pacify Afghanistan. And his daring raid on bin Laden’s compound owed something to luck as well as good intelligence, good planning and damned good Special Forces.
The war against al-Qaida isn’t over. But bin Laden’s death should serve as a reminder to the John McCain’s and Dick Cheney’s of the value of walking softly and carrying a big stick.

362 comments Add your comment

Guy Incognito

May 2nd, 2011
8:35 am

GREAT JOB Special Forces!!!!!!!!!!!

USA, USA, USA

Guy Incognito

May 2nd, 2011
8:37 am

CT, I had no idea that you were a Star Trek fan

“three-dimensional chess”

Kamchak

May 2nd, 2011
8:38 am

In about a week, conservatives will find a way to suggest that Obama’s leadership on foreign policy is weak.

Nah, they’ll just start yammering to see the long form death certificate.

Joe The Plumber Too

May 2nd, 2011
8:40 am

CT: The death of Usama Bin Laden is not because of the fool who used to sit in the Oval Office or the fool sitting there now, nor is it because of all the cry baby bedwetters that were screaming ” bring the troops home now”. It is in SPITE of them. Our BRAVE men and women in uniform had a job to do and they did it, let’s not forget that some gave all to get the troops to the point they could take that muslim terrorist leader out. I’ll bet today, you don’t hear them standing around saying I did this and I did that as the pretender in chief did last night. If you pass a soldier today, stop them and tell them “Thank You and Job Well Done”. To them this was not political it was personal.

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
8:41 am

Ms Tucker, If I owned the AJC, I would fire you over this column. Obama deserves credit for continuing the search for OBL started under the Bush watch. He deserves credit for giving the go-ahead on the mission. His credit ends there. The praise goes first to the military team who successfully completed the mission, then to the intelligence community who made it possible. It’s amazing you could not go even one day, this special day, without heaping praise on Obama he does not deserve.

ctucker

May 2nd, 2011
8:43 am

JohnnyReb@8:41, If Osama had been killed under the Bush administration, would you praise Bush? Who is the commander-in-chief?

ctucker

May 2nd, 2011
8:44 am

Guy@8:37, I’m a big Trekkie

Osama bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011
8:50 am

WHERE MY VIRGINS AT?

Osama bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011
8:51 am

HOW ABOUT SOME ICE WATER???

I AM SWEATING LIKE A PIG!

gator24

May 2nd, 2011
8:54 am

It was up to the President to continue to look for and killed Bin Laden. The Military complete the job after receiving the necessary intelligence. They work under orders from the President of these United States. We are not led by a Military Junta Johnny Reb and if you don’t understand that, it proves how some American Voters are naive about how our Government works.
It was entirely up to the President as to whether this operation to killed or capture Bin Laden proceeded. The President deserves some credit for his actions on success of this operation, if this had happen under President Bush time in office. All conservatives and Fox would be praising him from now until eternity.

Osama bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011
8:56 am

I TRICKED GEORGE W. BUSH INTO ROBBING AMERICANS OF THEIR PERSONAL FREEDOMS AND RUINED AIR TRAVEL IN AMERICA FOR EVER!

FREE CANCER FROM THE NEW AIRPORT SCANNERS!

FREE MOLESTATION OF A WHOLE GENERATION OF AMERICAN CHILDREN BY GOVERNMENT AGENTS!

I KILL AMERICAN FREEDOM!

OBAMA JUST PLAY FOLLOW THE LEADER!

BY THE WAY, HOW IS THAT ICE WATER COMING?

Peadawg

May 2nd, 2011
8:56 am

“After reading through some of the posts, everyone on here this morning on both sides that are making this a political issue and poking jokes at the other side should be ashamed of themselves. It’s pathetic.”

I posted this on Jay’s blog and it goes for you too, Cynthia. Thanks to the CIA, Navy Seals, troops, and military officials for all your work over the past 10 years!

Cool Hand

May 2nd, 2011
8:59 am

Hey, I didn’t know CT was a fortune teller and know how the Republicans are going to react before they do and starts with her liberal demagoguery.

Hey CT heres $20 tell my future.

“Leading from behind” was a quote from a Sr. White House official and describes so well what this President does. I have never known anyone who was a great leader while behind in the pack. What it should be called is reacting from behind and let the leaders in front take the hits. This President did not lead in Libya, Health Care, Reducing the deficit spending in his budget, etc. Obama is not a leader.

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
9:01 am

Ms Tucker asked if I would have praised Bush had OBL been killed under his watch? No more so than the credit given Obama in my first post. It was not Obama, nor would it have been Bush, who with unbelieveable dedication endured all obstacles and put his life on the line for the mission.

Getting OBL was not an original Obama idea. Keep that in persepective and put the praise where it belongs – with the military.

Guy Incognito

May 2nd, 2011
9:02 am

I do have a question for those who are much smarter than I am……..

How much of a finacial hit does Al Q take now that the bin Laden $ doesn’t have it’s ATM anymore? Will other sources of funding fill the gap, or does this operation put a significant ding in their pocketbook?

Sean

May 2nd, 2011
9:02 am

The people who say “Obama can’t do anything to please conservatives” and those who bashed Bush for literally everything he did are one in the same.

gary

May 2nd, 2011
9:04 am

“The death of Osama bin Laden, in a raid executed under Obama’s explicit leadership”……. Did I miss the part where Obama was actually over there leading the raiding party? Obama blames Bush for everything wrong in the country, but never says anything about the infrastucture in place over there that was started by Bush and in great part lead to the death of Bin Laden.

Guy Incognito

May 2nd, 2011
9:04 am

Oops…….that should’ve read………….now that AQ doesn’t have its own bin Laden ATM

Kamchak

May 2nd, 2011
9:06 am

quod erat demonstrandum

May 2nd, 2011
9:06 am

It is odd that a liberal President, one that just wants to get a long with the world, an embracer of the UN would not mind pulling the trigger on an international scum bag.

Congratulations to the President. A very grateful nation salutes the brave men and women wearing the uniform of the US military, especially those who helped take out this vermin.

I hope the rest of the terrorist understand that we will remove any leader that advocates violence against innocent US citizens.

My regrets are that it took 10 years and my son had to go to Afghanistan..

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
9:06 am

gator24 – is that your age, 24? When you grow up sonny and truly know something about how our Republic works, I will answer another one of your posts. Obama has shown nothing but disrespect to our military – they die while he plays golf. He deserves only the mandatory connection to our militaryand is unworthy of sharing their praise.

Larry Sinclair

May 2nd, 2011
9:07 am

For once, I completely agree with one of Cynthia Tucker’s article headlines.

Nobody would know better than I do.

Purple Drank

May 2nd, 2011
9:08 am

I’m still so excited about the royal wedding.

granny godzilla

May 2nd, 2011
9:08 am

Well Done and Thank You to President Obama and our most excellent Navy Seals.

How many of us will have the integrity and courage to stand together behind our President today?

Liberal Chicks are UGLY

May 2nd, 2011
9:08 am

Way to make it politcal, oh petty one.

I am happy regardless the president. It’s an American victory, but you see it as an opportunity to hate on conservatives…dingleberry.

Don't Tread

May 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

Things get done much more efficiently when you don’t spill the beans to so-called “allies”. I’m sure if the Pakistani or Afghan government had known that we knew where he was, he wouldn’t have been there and our Seals would have been walking into a trap.

This is why you don’t walk away from a mission before the job is done. I’m no Obama fan, but he did the right thing this time by keeping our forces in Afghanistan (much to the chagrin of the left).

kayaker 71

May 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

Bozo had absolutely nothing to do with Bin Laden getting killed. If he takes credit for it, maybe we can offer up another peace prize for him. BTW, who gets the 25M for killing Bin Laden? Maybe Bozo can claim that too.

Dred Zeppelin

May 2nd, 2011
9:10 am

Incredibly proud of my Country. I’m in total awe of the courage/skill of the elite Navy seals. On a sour note, the quest from the right to degrade Obama knows no bounds.

granny godzilla

May 2nd, 2011
9:10 am

“Obama has shown nothing but disrespect to our military ”

a vile, disgusting, immature radical partisan lie

you sir are more patsy than patriot.

Hootinanny Yum Yum

May 2nd, 2011
9:10 am

This is indeed a great accomplishment for the United States of America. It doesn’t matter to me what administration was in charge when it occurred. The fact that it occurred under Obama’s watch is no doubt of great political benefit to the Democratic party.

But, to say Obama was responsible for going after Osama and getting him, is like saying Nixon was responsible for the United States landing on the moon. It took three administrations to accomplish that feat. Thousands of dedicated professionals. The unfortunate loss of life as we worked towards the lofty goal of being the first to the moon.

No. Credit belongs to dedicated US military and intelligence professionals doing the job they do every day. Yes, Obama pulled the trigger by giving the go-ahead for the actual mission (I won’t posit what could have been if a previous administration had the wherewithal to do the same). And the Democrats will reap the benefit from the timing.

The bottom line is that this is a major accomplishment in the war on terror and a great day for America.

eyes rolling

May 2nd, 2011
9:10 am

Way to go Cynthia! You hit the nail on the head as usual.

I-Bar

May 2nd, 2011
9:12 am

Thanks to all the troops that serve and for their bravery. Thanks to Bush for starting the hunt and Obama for continuing it. Thanks to all the soldiers who have served, and will continue to serve in this fight as you are the real heroes.

Steve Jobs

May 2nd, 2011
9:12 am

They tracked Bin Laden through his iPhone…..And you all complained about us doing that! HA!

Now, where’s my reward money?

MisterEarl

May 2nd, 2011
9:12 am

kayaker71 – does the title “Commander in Chief” mean anything to you?

Obviously not.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast of The Glenn Beck program on Fox PAC. Hilarious.

Mary Elizabeth

May 2nd, 2011
9:12 am

“I want a president who appreciates the fact that bellicosity helps our enemies and frustrates our friends. I want a president who’s a three-dimensional chess player, as Obama is.”

——————————————————————————

Beautifully measured, in depth analysis, Cynthia, which reinforces the traits of a strong leader – such as Obama – should have in the 21st century of growing global interconnectedness.

Below are my thoughts posted on Jim Galloway’s blog on Friday, April 29, 2011. Although my subject matter deals with the difference in the leadership styles of Donald Trump and President Obama, I believe that readers will make the connection that my words reinforce the view that President Obama is a “three-dimensional chess player.”

April 29th, 2011
11:45 pm
“Donald Trump’s leadership style is the polar opposite of President Obama’s. Trump’s antics help to clarify, starkly, that difference.

Southerners, and all Americans, can see – quite dramatically – the difference in inner strength between the two. Trump is betting on the likelihood that the American psyche still respects the bully. His belief is that one “wins” by intimidation. Obama knows better. His strength comes from the deepest resources of his character. He does not need to bluff. His inner strength shows forth when he leads through his insight and impact, as did MLK Jr. Having strength, by those traits, eludes Trump’s consciousness.

If both were actors, Trump would put on the mask, with nothing going on inside; Obama would deliver the character from the deepest resources of his being.

The world is continually evolving in consciousness. Americans have a clear choice through which to express who they presently are. I’m betting they have evolved past the time when they were perceived to be “the ugly Americans.” Bullies have never really been respected. I’m betting the majority of Americans will call Trump’s bluff.

As far as Southerners are concerned, they could always recognize real class, which has nothing to do with a “colorful” word, or two, being expressed with gusto, but has more to do with innate dignity. Money can’t buy class. You either have it or you don’t. Trump doesn’t. Obama does. Southerners know the difference. I only hope Southerners will vote what they inherently know to be class and strength.”

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
9:13 am

Granny – until the time you can produce an honorable discharge from the US Military, served during the time that most of Obama’s crowd were protesting and blowing up things, I suggest you shut up about anyone’s patriotisim.

Reverie

May 2nd, 2011
9:14 am

As a retired military member, with five years in Special Operations at Hurlburt Field, Florida, I can assure you that it is widely believed that this President has really not got a clue about how to employ military force. He suffers from a belief in the Clinton school of strategy, shoot missiles an hope they become our friend. That flawed strategy gave us 9/11. President Obama was very much backward in his thinking about Libya and his indecisiveness resulted in us getting into the game too late to make much of a dent in the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, from a military standpoint I think President GW Bush had his faults but he also LISTENED. God has blessed the USA and thank God for the American Military.

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Ratsass

May 2nd, 2011
9:15 am

Tucker, you’re not serious? You are so biased and a kowtower. Leave it to you to credit the longest, largest manhunt in the history of the world to O. Congratus to him for “giving the order” that any president would have given. I applaud him as commander in cheif for doing what is expected of him. But to credit him for this achievement is pure hyperbole and not true. Nice try.

eddie

May 2nd, 2011
9:16 am

The scary and sad part of this is that Obama doesn’t even recognize that the only role that he played was to give the “go ahead” after all of the intel and info was presented to him. Even you could make that call CT. Please …..the SEALS and helicopter pilots along with the intel community should get all of the credit. Sorta like John Kerry with his Purple Hearts…..fake but accurate at least in his own mind.

granny godzilla

May 2nd, 2011
9:17 am

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
9:13 am
Granny – until the time you can produce an honorable discharge from the US Military, served during the time that most of Obama’s crowd were protesting and blowing up things, I suggest you shut up about anyone’s patriotisim.

you can suggest all you want but sorry dude….my comment on your comment remains spot on

you sir are more patsy than partriot, and you bring shame on this nation – DD214 or not…..

MountainMan

May 2nd, 2011
9:17 am

It is a shame we didn’t bring his body back and drag it down Pennsylvania Ave and then string it up from a bridge in NY harbor. Then the terrorists would see how it feels.

huh

May 2nd, 2011
9:18 am

“The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.”
- G.W. Bush, 9/13/01

“I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”
- G.W. Bush, 3/13/02

lynnie gal

May 2nd, 2011
9:19 am

Congratulations, President Obama!

MisterEarl

May 2nd, 2011
9:19 am

eddie – if the mission had failed you would be the first to bleat about what an idiot President Obama was for making such an ill-timed decision.

Please. Give it a rest. President Obama may challenge your personal bias on superiority, but the man is making history where other Presidents failed.

The party is on Pennsylvania Avenue. Stay hope and sulk.

TheTruthHurts

May 2nd, 2011
9:19 am

As if Obama Bin Lying had anything to do with this..It was done by the military which he despises but watch the idiot take all the credit now…Typical Phony Liberal…..Why not try fixing the economy LOSER!!!!….

Ratsass

May 2nd, 2011
9:22 am

Oh, and to bash Bush in the process….you are low woman. You manipulate the story to suit your own personal agenda, which you espouse through your job as an AJC writer. Not surprising, the AJC stands for it and allows you to print the dribble you write. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Bush, but to castigate him over and over….only serves your distorted viewpoints of the world and gives you fodder for spewing the garbage that comes out of that incesant chip on your shoulder. You are pathetic.

granny godzilla

May 2nd, 2011
9:22 am

“It was done by the military which he despises”

that was not meant to be a factual statement

JohnnyReb

May 2nd, 2011
9:23 am

So Granny, my NRA membership does not mean a thing?

dj

May 2nd, 2011
9:24 am

We got the intelligence from Gitmo. It was 5 years in the making. Obama did what any other president would have. In fact, thank god he was not elected president in 2004.