Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen made President Obama and Mitt Romney both appear petty, as he addressed the politicization of the Osama bin Laden raid on the eve of its one-year anniversary.
On NBC Nightly News last night, Mullen told Brian Williams he was frightened about how the presidential election would warp the SEALTeam 6 raid. "I do worry a great deal that this time of year that somehow this gets spun into election politics," he said. "I can assure you that those individuals who risked their lives, the last thing in the world that they would want is to be spun into that." There's a lot of blame to go around on the politicking side but the message has extra heft coming from Mullen, who was involved in the mission, as you can see in the famous Situation Room photo.
The Obama campaign of course opened Pandora's box in an ad asking "Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" suggesting he wouldn't have had the guts to green-light the raid. Romney then ceded the high road by yelping that "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," a slam on an elderly former president that was, as The Atlantic's James Fallows pointed out, both factually and logically spurious given that Carter is probably best known for sending the Army's Delta Force to free American hostages in Iran. (A disastrous mission, yes, but one he nevertheless green-lighted.) In any event, President Obama defended the fight he started yesterday, saying "I hardly think you've seen any excessive celebration taking place here" in wake of criticisms from reporters such as Peter Baker and Michael Shear, who in The New York Times wrote that Obama "is increasingly taking the unusual route of bragging about how he killed a man."