Taking Credit Versus Taking Action

After releasing the long form of his birth certificate, President Obama said, “We've got some enormous challenges out there … We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.” One of those “carnival barkers,” Donald Trump, held a press conference to call attention to his involvement in forcing the release of the birth certificate, saying, “Today, I'm very proud of myself because I've accomplished something that nobody else was able to accomplish.” Well, at the very moment “The Donald” was taking credit for forcing closure to an issue that was the invention of anti-Obama operatives, President Obama, as commander in chief of US armed forces, was taking decisive action on one of those enormous challenges by exacting revenge on Osama bin Laden for plotting the atrocities of 9/11. Trump was taking credit while Obama was taking action.

On Sunday, May 1, President Obama stated “al-Qaeda's leader and symbol” Osama bin Laden had been killed: “Tonight, I can report to the American people and the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.” Less than 24 hours after President Obama made his announcement, Sarah Palin, in a speech at Colorado Christian University, said, “We thank President [George W.] Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory.” She never mentioned President Obama. The conservative Washington Times newspaper wrote, “Bin Laden's death is more Mr. Bush's victory than Mr. Obama's because American forces wouldn't even be fighting in South Asia had Democratic doves had their way.” The National Review Online wrote, “Mr. Obama might have noted that this work began under President Bush, but as usual he did not.”

If conservatives want to give former president Bush the credit for the capture of bin Laden, they must also ensure that he take the responsibility for the misinformation and disinformation that led us into two protracted military misadventures. Every single excuse that Cheney/Bush provided to the American people for invading Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be false.

  • The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan.
  • No weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were found in Iraq.
  • No relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden tied Hussein to 9/11.
  • No attempt from Saddam to purchase “yellow cake” uranium from Niger was ever documented.

According to Iraq on the Record, a report prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) in 2004, prior to the war in Iraq, Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, “made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances consisting of 40 speeches, 26 press conferences and briefings, 53 interviews, 4 written statements, and 2 congressional testimonies. The report … identifies 237 specific misleading statements … Most of the statements … were misleading because they expressed certainty where none existed or failed to acknowledge the doubts of intelligence officials. Ten of the statements were simply false.” Bush took action, but it was based upon the false narrative that his administration created.

If conservatives want to give Bush the credit for the capture of bin Laden, why didn't they take him in 2001, just ten weeks after 9/11? In July of 2009, 60 Minutes reported that in November 2001, Delta Force troops, “Using radio intercepts and other intelligence, the CIA pinpointed bin Laden in the mountains near the border of Pakistan. According to a Delta commander being interviewed, “We're about 2,000 meters away from where we think bin Laden's at still … bin Laden was on the radio. The CIA, Delta and their Afghan allies were listening.” They failed to even attempt to engage him. Their plans of attack were never approved. “How often does Delta come up with a tactical plan that's disapproved by higher headquarters?” Pelley from 60 Minutes asks. “In my experience, said a former Delta commander, in my five years at Delta, never before.” They either have to take credit or responsibility. Conservatives can't have their cake and eat it too (unless it's Obama's cake).

If conservatives want to give Bush credit, what about taking responsibility for their contribution to the current budget deficit? President Clinton left office with a $127 billion budget surplus resulting from responsible military cuts (which began with his predecessors) and an economic boom that resulted in increased tax revenues. When Bush left office, Obama inherited a $455 billion deficit that didn't even include the cost of all of the military actions we were involved in. Obama included that cost of our military interventions in the deficit. If Bush supporters want the credit, they have to also take the blame.

In talking about the “birther” issue, Obama's grades and Trump, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, the elder statesman of network news reporters and one of the most respected newsmen in the industry, stated, “This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing. We can hope that that kind of comes to an end, too, but we'll have to see.” With these issues, as well as with racist cartoons and other references, one can only attribute the “credit” issue to race as well. Finally, mainstream media is putting the attacks on Obama in their proper context.

To Obama's point on Sunday, if we are going to move forward as a democracy and solve our serious problems, “We're not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.” You must give credit where credit is due and place responsibility where it rightfully belongs. While many conservatives are taking credit, President Obama took decisive action.

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