I’ve had many emails back and forth with friends and other conservatives about the dissembling going on within the administration on exactly what happened during the raid that ended in the death of bin Laden. I cannot believe that anyone is feeling more trust and love for the president and his fellow Democrats unless they already felt great trust and love. You may have realized this but I don’t feel that trust and love. I want to know what really happened. I want the rest of the world to be able to believe the USA when we say something.
Now via PJ Tatler I find that even Time magazine’s Mark Halperin is not exactly feeling the trust, even though it would be very hard for him not to feel the love.
Aftermath can be heck.
The White House’s brilliant conceptualization and execution of the plan to bring Osama bin Laden to justice has, in the last 48 hours, been complicated by mistakes.
No one can question the heroism of the US military, the doggedness of the intelligence community, or the cajones of the President in making the call. But the administration has since made real errors, some with political costs, some with substantive costs, and some with both. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway.)
Actually Mark, this blogger can question those cojones, I’ve read the stories of his delaying tatics on the raid.
The major errors so far:
1. Not getting its story straight: Was bin Laden armed or not? What woman served as a human shield? Who actually was killed beyond the main target? The administration deserves mountains of credit for its painstaking, conspicuous effort to brief the world on the mission, knowing a lot of information would have to be held back to protect sources, operatives, methods, and sensitive data. Which makes the carelessness of the errors somewhat surprising. The costs: the media coverage sours, the President’s opponents (especially on talk radio) go crazy, other details of the mission unfairly get called into question, and the wild theories of global enemies and conspiracy seekers get a foothold.
2. Not giving George W. Bush enough credit for helping bring bin Laden to justice: Even if the White House believes the previous occupant had nothing to do with OBL’s ultimate demise, it would have been better for national unity and Obama’s own political fortunes if he had gone out of his way to thank 43. His invitation to Bush to join the event Thursday at Ground Zero (an offer declined) was the right idea, but belated. (Watch “President Obama on the Death of bin Laden.”)
3. Letting the photo debate get out of control: The decision about whether to release images of a dead bin Laden is not an easy one. But the administration’s conflicting statements and public agonizing has created an extended distraction. The White House has stumbled by violating one of Washington’s iron rules: when something becomes famous inside the Beltway for not being released, the pressure from the media to release it becomes unrelenting.
4. Letting the debate about the war in Afghanistan get out of control: There are signs that some of the president’s advisers are looking to scale back the commitment in Afghanistan sooner rather than later. But by failing to go on the offensive in defining and defending whatever policy the President wants to pursue, the White House has allowed those pressing for an end of the war to use bin Laden’s death as rhetorical leverage. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden’s life of terror.)
5. Letting the debate about Pakistan get out of control: The congressional and media demand for a radical change in America’s relationship with Pakistan is burning like wildfire. The administration knows that a shift in policy is complicated and compromising, and not necessarily in the United States’ interest. Stoking the problem: executive branch officials, publicly and privately, are expressing incredulity that the Pakistanis were unaware bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in their country. There should be and will be a debate about all this, but the administration’s actions and inactions is making it less likely it will be on their terms.
So, Mark Halperin has listed some of the reasons we have all been discussing. This tells me he knows this has been a major mistake in handling what could have been a very good political play on the president’s side.