Obama: Tough enuf — without the John Wayne antics

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” — from an African proverb

WASHINGTON — By the time President Barack Obama announced late Sunday evening that U.S. commandoes had killed Osama bin Laden, the conservative Weekly Standard had already hit newsstands with a cover caricature of the president cowering behind a sand dune, “leading from behind.” An accompanying editorial by outspoken neo-con William Kristol, the magazine’s editor, accused Obama of “appeasing those who revile us.”

Given that U.S. Navy Seals acting on Obama’s orders were preparing to track down Public Enemy No. 1 when the magazine went to print, it was a bad bit of timing for the president’s most vociferous critics. But Kristol was merely echoing the condemnations leveled at Obama regularly by a raft of likely Republican presidential contenders, including Mitt Romney.

Bin Laden’s death has interrupted that narrative, if only temporarily. The steady drumbeat of denunciations of Obama as weak and indecisive — supposedly, he apologies to our enemies while refusing to acknowledge our exceptionalism — has been muted, for now. Even the usually-churlish Dick Cheney managed to congratulate the president on the occasion of bin Laden’s much-deserved demise.

That won’t last, of course. This is a period of harsh partisanship, and it won’t be overcome by bin Laden’s end — however welcome that is. Besides, the stakes are too high for Obama’s rivals to concede his foreign policy expertise; they want to limit him to a one-term presidency.

Still, I’m hoping that Sunday’s dramatic news will foster a growing appreciation of Obama’s quiet and thoughtful style of leadership. Shouldn’t it be clear by now that swagger, bellicosity and belligerence don’t win wars or quell terrorism?

The first to question Obama’s fitness to be commander-in-chief were his Democratic primary opponents, who, naturally, tried to paint the inexperienced senator as out of his depth. Hillary Clinton ran the much-talked-about ad featuring a 3 a.m. emergency phone call.

And Obama drew widespread rebukes for an August 2007 speech in which he said he would send U.S. military forces into Pakistan after bin Laden. Democrats called him naïve, while conservatives claimed he had threatened to “invade” Pakistan. One Fox News analyst called it “loonier than anything he’s said about Iraq.”

It turns out Obama is neither naïve nor loony. He increased the use of unmanned drones over Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing more al-Qaida operatives in his short tenure than his predecessor did in eight years. And he ignored the official protestations of our Pakistani “allies,” who insisted that they had no idea where bin Laden was hiding. (Surely, any U.S. president would have done the same thing with “actionable” intelligence.)

Lately, Republicans, as well as some Democrats, have bashed Obama for his tentative, ad hoc responses to the uprisings in the Middle East. A chorus of second-guessers has chided him over Libya — some for doing too little, others for doing too much. Many of the president’s critics seem to miss the “dead or alive” cowboy diplomacy of the Bush years and the bristling, finger-in-your-face rhetoric that went along with it.

I don’t miss that at all. It accomplished nothing. Indeed, it probably hurt America’s cause as the world came to resent our recklessness and arrogance. The United States was seen as a bully, which didn’t help us to recruit allies.

I greatly prefer Obama’s cooler, studied approach. He didn’t have to use the words “global war on terror” to focus on al-Qaida. Nor did he need to publicly threaten bin Laden with “dead or alive” in order to rid the world of his menace.

Obama’s foreign policy is hardly perfect. No one can say with certainty what Afghanistan will be like in a decade. Our policy toward the Arab uprisings is a patchwork of conflicting attitudes and colliding interests — some tyrants targeted, others tolerated.

But I have no doubt that Obama is tough enough to make hard calls. He doesn’t need to talk like John Wayne to prove it.

—— Cynthia Tucker

354 comments Add your comment

hobby

May 4th, 2011
9:19 am

Bill Clinton was offered Bin Ladin ‘on a silver platter’ more than once. He declined.
The only reason he ever shot at him was to deflect condemnation for Monica Lewinski.
He did it to get that story off the from page.
Obama could have made this attack months ago, but waited until it would be
politicly advantagous. It got the “birth certificate” issue off the front page. “Mission Accomplished!”
Having Bin Laden gone makes the world a slightly safer place. That safety is more than ofset by
having Obama as POTUS.
The demise of Bin Laden will not change the upcomming 2012 outcome.

Kamchak

May 4th, 2011
9:21 am

No one can say with certainty what Afghanistan will be like in a decade.

Hopefully, it will be free of U.S. military bases.

hobby

May 4th, 2011
9:21 am

Really last word

May 4th, 2011
9:22 am

Being in the right place at the right time and making a decision that had positive result . . . doesn’t make one strong . . . I would venture to say had the outcome been anything less . . . someone or someones in that room w/the President would be the scapegoat(s) and take the fall for the President. Just look at the the President’s face as they watch everything go down . . it didn’t look like someone with complete confidence that he had made the right decision.

Jack

May 4th, 2011
9:27 am

He got lucky.

Producer

May 4th, 2011
9:28 am

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” — from an African proverb

I could have sworn that was from Teddy Roosevelt. I guess he musta “stole” that, huh?

arnold

May 4th, 2011
9:30 am

Obama did it. Bush strutted.

EC Sedgwick

May 4th, 2011
9:31 am

All net Mr President!!!

kayaker 71

May 4th, 2011
9:34 am

Bush and Cheney deserve a lot of credit for Bin Laden’s ultimate demise. During the campaign in 2008, you would have thought that Bush was the anti-Christ for using enhanced interrogation techniques including water boarding, using Gitmo as an interrogation site for needed information, rendition and that awful thing about monitoring international telephone calls. The media and the Democrats went crazy with three or more years of seething criticism about these issues. It seems that Bozo used all of these tactics to finally bring this animal to justice. Gitmo is still open, which Bozo pledged to close during the first week of his presidency. It appears that we still monitor telephone traffic from overseas sources just like we did in the cold war and who knows what kind of interrogation techniques are going on in Poland and Rumania. So let’s give credit where credit is due, CT. Mr. Cool had a lot of help in this operation from the last person who occupied government housing but do you think that that the media will acknowledge that?

Gloria

May 4th, 2011
9:39 am

OK, so you like Obama, that’s nice.
AJC – will you please replace the CT blog with something else. Waaaaay too boring

Senior Citizen Kane

May 4th, 2011
9:52 am

“I could have sworn that was from Teddy Roosevelt. I guess he musta “stole” that, huh?”

Actually TR himself claimed it came from an African proverb, but it was clearly he who made it famous.

dw

May 4th, 2011
9:57 am

i wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out in the near future (just before next election) that the messiah himself actually led the mission to snuff out bin laden. ’cause he the greatest ever. and cynthia, you slighted john wayne … you must be a racist then.

Bryan G.

May 4th, 2011
10:04 am

I rarely agree with you or this President, but I completely agree about this editorial. Well said.

F.G. Albert

May 4th, 2011
10:05 am

MS. Tucker is up to her racist tactics, now quoting an African proverb, what exactly is it with blacks correlating everything to Africa, most of them have never been there, nor their parents etc. It is the USA that is their home, have some allegiance.
Love the “Enuf”, black phonetics.
Obama is one of those people who are always in the right place at the right time, no matter how Bin Laden was killed BHO will get the credit for it and probably re-election. The reference to talking like John Wayne made me want to barf.

Gator Joe

May 4th, 2011
10:05 am

Cynthia,
I’m not surprised by this latest accomplishment by President Obama, and his administration. I’m also not surprised at at the grudgingly offered, insincere congratulations coming from the Right.
For the bigotted Right Wingers, Bin Laden was picking out color schemes and furniture for his residence in Pakistan, while Bush and Cheney were ruining our country and ignoring him.

Rafe Hollister

May 4th, 2011
10:18 am

Sin-thee, I am willing to give the man credit for killing bin Laden, he did a fine job. If you say he is tough, I will agree for today. Obama be one bad dude, Sin-thee says so. If you want to believe that, fine with me.

What I do disagree with is your disparaging remarks about that great American, John Wayne (Marion Morrison, I believe his name was). To use John Wayne and Barry Obama in the same post deminishes The Duke. If Native Americans can bemoan the use of Geronimo, I can defend The Duke.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

May 4th, 2011
10:20 am

I will give props to Mr Obama, to send in troops as opposed to a 200 lb bomb took some sand. However, not releasing photos showing the dead coward Bin Laden so you don’t “offend” a bunch of murderous terrorist does show a lack of spine. I don’t want to hear Bin Laden dead, I want to see him dead. And I don’t give a hoot about following Muslim burial customs, he should have been fed to pigs. Obama needs to stop pandering to the extreme.

Barner B. Jones

May 4th, 2011
10:24 am

Gator Hoe- why are Right Wingers “bigotted”? Because many of them exercise Fiscal Prudence, while the clueless left is inevitably destroying hard working middle-class America?

hobby

May 4th, 2011
10:24 am

John Wayne as POTUS would have made Ronald Reagan look like another Jimmy Carter!

casual observer

May 4th, 2011
10:24 am

The president made the right decision.
It is hilarious to me how Libs think everything he does is heroic. If Bush would have done this CT would be decrying him a murderer. Cindy Shehaan would be picketing in Crawford. Now everything is okay?? How bout GITMO? Howd that one work out for us? It’s still open by the way. No critics? How bout the Bush polocies in Afghanistan? What no critics? How about $4.00 gasoline that Bush was chastised over? Where are Obama’s critics? How about the Bush Tax cuts he promised to let expire? Oh well Obama did it so it’s okay? Oh by the way . I wonder what senator Obama would be saying about this operation? hmmmm?

Just be consistent. Not consistentaly carrying water for a guy that makes huge mistakes. And gets no criticism.

joe

May 4th, 2011
10:26 am

Obama got a 9 point jump and it was well deserved. However, we’ve seen this play before. In the early 90’s Sr. Bush’s approval rating was over 90 just after the first Iraq invasion that removed them from Kuwait. One year or so later, he lost the election to Clinton. Obama should enjoy this time, and deservedly so..with a huge assist to Bush Jr for gaining the original intel needed to connect the dots from the courier’s nickname leading to Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

However, the reason Obamas poll numbers were so low before the hit are our current domestic issues coupled with his social engineering policies that most Americans despise. Those issues are not going away and those are the issues the GOP will concentrate on as 2012 nears, just as the Dems did to curtail Bush Sr second term aspirations.

Drifter

May 4th, 2011
10:27 am

Just another example of Obama taking a page out of the “What would George Bush Do?” book. In this case, it was the right call. The rest of his presidency? Not so much.

Guy Incognito

May 4th, 2011
10:27 am

Kamchak

May 4th, 2011
9:21 am
No one can say with certainty what Afghanistan will be like in a decade.

Hopefully, it will be free of U.S. military bases.

And Europe too. I’m tired of being the default Eoro military. Keep Ramstein for logistics, and close the rest.
Think of the savings

Gator Joe

May 4th, 2011
10:29 am

John Wayne was an actor “acting” like a bad-ass during WW II while real bad-asses were fighting overseas. I like his movies, but he wasn’t a bad-ass. By the way, not serving in the military is fine, but being a pretend bad-ass is not.

Rafe Hollister

May 4th, 2011
10:30 am

casual observer
You know you are making too much sense here. The KSM fans wanting him to have a fair trial in New York and to receive all the rights of a US citizen are silent. Why was Usama shot down like a dog? Why were his civil rights violated? Where was Eric Holder, whinning about how important it was to show the world our system of justice?

zeke

May 4th, 2011
10:31 am

Obozo should be congratulated! Congratulated for following through the policies of GEORGE W. BUSH! That is what actually facilitated this great thing! Keeping GITMO open for security and safety reasons! And monitoring all international calls, not calls between U.S. citizens in the U.S.!

Guy Incognito

May 4th, 2011
10:31 am

Gator Joe

May 4th, 2011
10:29 am

Guess i’ll leave you off the Stalone Viewing Party invitation list

Rafe Hollister

May 4th, 2011
10:34 am

Gator Joe, If Jimmy Stewart, a true American war hero, could have The Duke as best friend, Wayne must have been a more than a pretender.

Joe The Plumber Too

May 4th, 2011
10:38 am

“a quiet and thoughtful leader”……………………………cough, cough, big cough, puke
you make it sound like little barry boy went in and did it himself, he gave the go ahead to a mission that was designed by great military minds and executed by Brave Soldiers. Period. I keep have flashbacks of last year with the pretender-in-chief standing on the beach in Florida looking and sounding like an overgrown Urkle saying I’m going to kick somebodys a$$. What a joke. For the first time, he did what he was elected to do, nothing more.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 4th, 2011
10:40 am

With all due respect, I think our hostess errs. The decision to allow the SEAL team to do its work was a simple political calculation.

That Chauncey was presented with a clear opportunity to get bin Laden would be likely to come out October 2012 if not sooner. Thus he had to manage the political risks:
(1) If the mission went badly because he diminishes the magnitude of the effort, he becomes the Jimmy Carter of the hostage rescue effort.
(2) If he forswears the opportunity when his own military is presenting him the head of bin Laden, or if he lofts a few cruise missiles, he becomes the wimpy Bill Clinton.
(3) If he stands behind his military and sends redundant forces (as if, for example, a helicopter is lost) the effort becomes Bushian.

No, this looks to me like a simple political calculation.

Ghostrider

May 4th, 2011
10:40 am

I personally don’t care who gets credit for putting a cap in his a$$, I’m glad the ba$tard is gone. Good job Seals…and nice shoot to, right between the eyes.

eddie

May 4th, 2011
10:40 am

In an arm wrestling contest, I’d take Ms. Mooch….got some guns!!

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 4th, 2011
10:43 am

I think our hostess has never seen a John Wayne movie. John Wayne was not a garrulous braggart who magnified himself and his decisions. It would be hard to imagine a John Wayne character writing two autobiographies before age 50, especially if he had accomplished so little in life. So, I suppose given the true nature of the John Wayne character, we can agree that Chauncey has little in common with a John Wayne.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 4th, 2011
10:48 am

Dear Kam Fong @ 10:20, although we generally share a world-view, I disagree with you on release of the pictures. I always thought the pictures of the dead Mussolini and Ceaucescu were obscene. Release of the pictures would be politically popular in the US, no beneficial effect overseas (with friend or foe.)

In the Arab street I understand there is a perception that bin Laden is still alive, that the US faked the kill. I see that internally-corrosive misbelief as potentially beneficial to the US, as only jihadists are likely to believe that bin Laden is alive.

Were I Chauncey, I would issue an executive order locking up the pictures beyond my term in office.

kayaker 71

May 4th, 2011
10:48 am

Media bias feeds stupid people. Cherry picking media events to enhance someone who you back and support as credible diminishes your credibility. Such as the case with CT. My last post was deleted when I stated that CT has lost much of her credibility by not coming out from behind that ;pillar of bias and confronting an issue without a liberal slant. Some of her best pieces are when she drops that cloak of African stubbornness and liberal nonsense and just tells it like it is.

SheeshLouise

May 4th, 2011
10:49 am

Yeah…but GWB gets NO “credit” for 9/11 happening on his watch while he was ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL! Noooo….THAT was BILL CLINTON’S fault. And NEWwwww… prolonged recession is now “AALLL Obama’s”, even though it’s “BUSH POLICIES” that put us here. These bigots are PATHETIC! Always HAVE been, always WILL be.

I am not amazed that these fools are BASICALLY now trying to “beam” Bush into the Oval Office!
Laughable…and PATHETIC ( like I already said).

Charlie Sheen

May 4th, 2011
10:51 am

It’s SEALs, not Seals? The former stands for SEa, Air, and Land (the three environment in which the SEALs operate). The latter is a marine mamal. Ergo, seals (not a proper noun, unless a family name, or the mono-named singer married to that model) operate in the sea and on land, but I have never seen a seal perform a HALO (High Altitude Low Open) parachute jump, or “speed rope” from a hovering helicopter.

Emperor Obama has no clothes

May 4th, 2011
10:52 am

Just more of CT bowing, praising, and boot licking of her false idol, Obama.

Bin Laden would not have been caught if not for the infamous enhanced interrogation techniques, AKA water boarding, so loathed by CT and her ilk. But they will not acknowledge that the nugget of info came from water boarding KSM and al Libi because it stains their narrative of Obama as the great leader. Obama has continued the same techniques and security standards implemented by GW Bush and their bogeyman Cheney but they will never acknowledge it.

JB

May 4th, 2011
10:53 am

This is the bottom line on why Obama’s thinking is flawed. I own a company. Three years ago, when the economy was robust, Under sub S corp status, I paid the federal government 1.3 mil in taxes. Last year( 2010) is a lousy down economy, I paid them 400,000 ( lot less profit). Problem: Obama is focusing on getting my Corporate tax rate to 39.8% vs 35%, which on 400,000 will net the federal government roughly 16,000.00 more on 400,000 profit. Why doesn’t he focus on getting the economy back to robust, and let me send in 1.3 mil again. Let’s see, 900,000 more revenue vs 16,000 because my top rate went up…….Seems like a normal thought. I do get richer in a robust economy, and employ 205 folks vs the 125 now. That’s a whole other story. He just does not get it.

Scooter (The Original)

May 4th, 2011
10:53 am

I too congratulate the President on making that tough call, with so many potential implications. I can’t help but think some executive leadership experience would have helped him control the message better. It seems like his lack of control over the message is reflecting poorly on SEAL Team 6 and I have little doubt the Obama administration will take the credit without defending those SEALS who so professionally, and selflessly, executed the mission. Nor do I doubt that any of this will impact your running love affair with the President.

TBone

May 4th, 2011
11:01 am

Besides, the stakes are too high for Obama’s rivals to concede his foreign policy expertise;
That’s a good one … in two weeks Americans will have forgotten this deed and we will still be spending more and more for gas and food. Has he returned his Nobel Peace Prize yet?

JB

May 4th, 2011
11:02 am

At the end of the day, if he was really allowed to have his way on everything………There would not even be a SEAL team available to do this job.He really hates spending all this money on the military when he could just ” redistribute” all of it…………to HIS voters.

Barner B. Jones

May 4th, 2011
11:02 am

Only Real Americans have served or are serving in the Armed Services. Unfortunately, this enables the gutless whiners from the left to destroy the Middle-Class through their trickle-up welfare policies.

JB

May 4th, 2011
11:03 am

$5 dollar gas and our middle class parents on welfare will be his downfall.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 4th, 2011
11:04 am

Story out now is that Chauncey dithered on the bin-Laden hit also, delaying his decision 16 hours, “to sleep on it.” Leading from behind.

JB

May 4th, 2011
11:07 am

I love it when he tells people a way to combat higher gas prices is to buy a car that gets great gas mileage………Oh yea, telling people that who don’t have a job…or can’t get one………who are out of savings…………..What a dum*A**.

Charlie Sheen

May 4th, 2011
11:12 am

Two words for everyone; Pat Tilman and Jessica Lynch. Please tell me you folks actually believe the narrative? I think it is entirely possible the operation was performed by CIA operatives or contractors. SEAL Team 6 may not have even left the chopper – and that is no disrespect to Team 6. Any of you people ever heard of “disinformation”? There is absolutely NOTHING to gain in revealling any intimate details about counter-terrorism operations, tactics, planning, etc. And does it really matter who took the kill shot (as SEAL, a Blackwater contractor, Carlos the Jackal, or John Wayne)? This was not a “political” operation, but the spin/media information most certainly is, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to stop believing in Santa Claus. Well, excuse me, I mean the media-driven narrative about Santa Claus. I very much believe in Santa. I just don’t think he’s the guy in the red suit.

Charlie Sheen

May 4th, 2011
11:13 am

excuse me, DO NOT believe the narrative.

TBone

May 4th, 2011
11:13 am

How do you get one of them Nobel Peace Prizes? I like just about everyone but I do hate squirrels.

Charlie Sheen

May 4th, 2011
11:15 am

Ragnar, c’mon son, you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Please define “dithered”. He gave the greenlight and bin Laden died of “lead poisoning”. M-4 rounds don’t dither, and that’s all that matters.