Obama's Ad on bin Laden, Romney: Fair or Foul?

There’s a new ad where Obama brags about bin Laden’s assassination, and questions whether Romney would have been able to order the hit. Do you think this is fair tactics in the election race?

Arianna Huffington is one who does not. She calls it a “despicable” move.

I am not an Obama fan and will not vote for him, however I am glad bin Laden was finally killed and since Obama did it, he can take credit for it and I’m OK with the ad.

Fair? Foul? Thoughts?


Remember, it’s been one year since the bin Laden raid. Like I said, the election is winding down. :wink:

I see this whole bin Laden thing as a legitimate issue to bring with Romney, but I’m not sure it is being used in the right way. Rather than, in essence, trying to make Obama look more macho because he took out UBL, and who knows what Romney would have done, I’d approach it in a different way.

Romney said in 2007 that it is “not worth moving heaven and earth” for one person, and the result would be “very insignificant increase in safety.” Then when he gets challenged on his statement, he changes his tune: “Of course we get Usama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go, and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America.” That statement was made that same year.

Seems like another example of Romney saying what he thinks people want to hear.

Every politician says what s/he thinks people want to hear, Obama and Romney included.

Here is the ad. I’m seeing some complaints that they only used a partial quote from Romney, but the bottom line is that by any logical standard it is fair to take credit for decisions you made and things you did. The fact that people are complaining Obama shouldn’t do that with Bin Laden carries a whiff of that whole ‘Democrats are supposed to be nicer’ thing - it asks Obama to campaign with one hand behind his back. He did make the Bin Laden a hunt a new priority on taking office and he did order the Abbottabad raid.

That’s a much less compelling argument, though. One is “Obama made the decision to prioritize and go after Bin Laden and Romney might not have,” and the other is “Romney’s a flip-flopper.”

That’s true, but it doesn’t mean people can’t be called out for dishonesty.

I haven’t seen this ad, but based on the description, I don’t think it’s really fair. I understand the idea of saying “look what I accomplished”. However, I don’t think you can really discredit Romney in any way for something like that because we don’t know all of the variables that went into it.

For instance, given the saem intelligence and same plan, I imagine almost anyone who would have been president, whether it was Obama or McCain or Romney, probably would have okayed the strike. On the other side, it is possible that another president may have made finding OBL less of a priority and that intelligence may or may not have been gathered. But I certainly don’t have the knowledge to say how much of a difference in priority there would have been and whether or not it would have still led to his death or capture.

So, I think it’s a good idea for Obama to say that he finished it, he deserves the props for that, and he can put it against Republicans as a whole since he did in half his term what Bush couldn’t do in two whole terms, but I don’t think it’s really a point to attack anyone else directly with. That is, it should just be something on his list of accomplishments, not a list of things he did that Romney wouldn’t have done in the same position.

What if Romney said he wouldn’t have done the same thing? That’s what the ad argues- Romney disagreed with Obama’s position on going into Pakistan to get bin Laden if necessary, and (arguably) also said it might not be worth it to get one individual. I do think it’s interesting that nobody has mentioned that the argument in the ad is made by Bill Clinton. Obama only appears in still photos- most of the ad is Clinton talking to the camera.

If the raid had failed, Republicans would be running ads showing downed smoking helicopters with a voice over of Jeremiah Wright saying “God damn America”. If Bush had gotten bin Laden, it would have been a national holiday and Republicans would have pushed for repeal of presidential term limits. And a tax cut for the wealthy.

Obama did what he specifically said he would do during one of the debates and what McCain specifically said he would NOT do- go into Pakistan and get bin Laden. It was a bold move and he deserves the credit and he gets to campaign on it.

Oops. I didn’t think that all the way through. It would make sense if it were McCain who said he wouldn’t do it. But there was no way Romney would have been president in Obama’s stead, so there’s no reason to bring up what he would have done.

So the way to make this right is to ask a what-if question on some other evil person. Show that Romney would apparently be soft on terrorism in the future, based on his past performance.

It’s one thing to try and get bin Laden, and another to actually get him. I’m glad he’s dead. Obama got him, so he can tout that.

That’s what the ad is. It asks if Romney would have made this decision.

I think this is a generous interpretation for two reasons.

First, the strike was a potential Bay of Pigs/Iran Hostage Crisis. A choice that could easily go south and make the President look like an incompetent fool. It also represented a military strike into a sovereign country that we are not currently at war with. A nuclear capable country with significant military resources. This is the sort of decision you don’t make if you don’t think OBL is a Big Fucking Deal. If you think he’s a Nice To Have, you don’t risk your presidency and a huge international incident over it.

Second, the strike was at least partly the result of Obama making OBL a priority. You don’t get the same intelligence and plans if you don’t put resources into it.

Well put, and I think that’s why the ad is fair game (even if that quote might not be). The raid did not just happen: Obama made bin Laden a priority again when he took office, and he did make a difficult decision about going into Pakistan without telling the Pakistani government what was happening. It was likely that someone important in Al Qaeda was in that home, but it was not a sure thing that it was bin Laden. Experts reportedly felt there was maybe a 60 percent chance it was bin Laden. That’s not bad, but it’s not a lead-pipe cinch. The risks were significant, and there has certainly been fallout from the raid even though it was successful. So it’s fair to ask if Romney would have made bin Laden a priority and sent the Navy SEALs into Pakistan since he said he was opposed to incursions of this type.

Fair. Romney’s statement, however one tries to spin it, indicates a level of risk-aversion that makes it questionable, at best, that he would have pulled the trigger given the geopolitical costs even if the operation succeeded and the risk of a Carteresque fiasco if it failed.

Yeah, but if you say it to an open mic it can be recorded and played back at you later; them’s the rules, these days.

Perfectly fair. Arguably tacky, but that’s politics.

An entirely different matter. Taking broad statements that Romney made about the war on terror in general and then implying he wouldn’t have given the order is both unfair and crass.

More than that, though, it’s just sloppy. An “Obama tough, Romney soft” ad could have been made that suggested the idea a lot more subtly and would have had a lot more plausible deniability. It’s enough to say “Romney might have given that order too … but we’ll never know, because he didn’t have to.” (cue dramatic minor chord).

Same idea, but much less objectionable.

Even if it’s true?

I don’t think they need to run a commercial to remind people that Romney is not the president. The issue (according to the ad’s argument) is that he said he opposed the strategy that led to the bin Laden raid, and that if it had been his call the raid might not have happened. So if you think Obama did the right thing, you should know Romney was against it.

That’s not the same thing as the hypothetical scenario, where if the situation were exactly the same except Romney is the president making the call, he would not have ordered the hit. I’m confident he would order the hit.

I think this, regardless of what he has said in the political jockeying.

I also think he would have committed resources to track OBL down. It’s similar (somewhat) to Obama promising to shutting down Guantanamo during the 2008 election, and then changing his mind once he got elected.

“Here’s a good thing I did, and my opponent probably wouldn’t have done it” is exactly what a campaign ad should be. I can’t see any problem with this.