Actually, the President Should Brag About Killing Bin Laden

The debate about whether Barack Obama should be exploiting the death of Osama bin Laden as a political "win" has come full circle from finger wagging to angry sniping to "absolutely, yes."

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The debate over whether or not Barack Obama should be using the death of Osama bin Laden as a political "win" has come full circle from finger wagging to angry sniping to "absolutely, yes."

The pendulum has swung back in the other direction with the help of The New York Times' Ross Douthat (hardly an Obama apologist) who declared that duh, of course, military raids are political. After all, it's what separates presidents from the rest of us and the current Commander-in-Chief would be guilty of "political malpractice" if he didn't push his advantage. Per Douthat:

How can we not politicize national security, given how central it is to the work of the modern presidency, and how unconstrained the executive branch’s national security powers have become no matter which party holds the White House?

Amy Davidson over at The New Yorker agrees that the GOP should be engaging the debate, not shutting it down since Americans have spent the last ten years dancing around the sensitive issues of terrorism and freedom, with the result being that we've completely ignored the most essential questions of what it even means to live here:

The list of questions that we have had to confront practically, not just abstractly, reads like a catechism of citizenship. When should we go to war? What are the limits of habeas corpus? What are our priorities—financial, moral, military—as a nation? What are the rights of citizens, and of strangers? What do Congress, the Court, and the President each get to decide? How much can we know about what they do? Is torture worth it? What are my rights? Should we sneak into South Asian countries and assassinate our enemies in the middle of the night? These are all matters for politics.

Davidson argues that those who mocked former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his constant references to September 11 during his run for president four years ago were missing the point. Giuliani used it as a shield to deflect all discussion about his credentials. That's why his opponents should have challenged him and forced a real debate about what our response should have been and continues to be. Turning "Noun + verb + 9/11" into  a punchline was a missed opportunity.
Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan makes a different, though related, argument that the decision to order the bin Laden raid was not an easy one and that Obama has earned the right to brag about it — just as he would have been vilified had it gone south. (See also: Jimmy Carter.) Romney, should he beat Obama, might have to make a similar decision himself one day and Americans should know before they vote for him how that might play out.
In the end, criticizing Obama for "spiking the football" is in its own way a form of playing politics. Which is exactly what a presidential campaign is supposed to be about.
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