You really don’t want to be around Obama nowadays. He will kick your ass. And he’ll be smooth about it. Let’s look at the last 72 hours or so of his schedule and take a look at what finesse and general bad-assness he has displayed.
On Friday, instead of just tucking in and watching the Royal Wedding and hat parade like the rest of us, he flew with his family to Alabama to comfort those who were devastated by horrendous tornadoes. He even went to Miami’s Dade College and gave a commencement address!
The following day, on Saturday, he suited up so he could attend the annual Correspondents Ball at the Hilton in Washington. A confab of famous celebs (cast of “Glee”, Sean Penn) and journalists (Bob Schieffer and Chris Matthews) were at the C-SPAN-televised live event and were witness to some barbs that Obama delivered to a certain Donald Trump. SNL’s Seth Meyers, the evening’s chosen funnyman, delivered even more savage jokes at Trump’s expense (“Donald Trump has been saying he would be running for President as a Republican, which is surprising since I thought he would be running as a joke”. But Obama was up there, self-deprecatingly cool and collected and when you figure that fully 24 hours later, near midnight, he would walk calmly to the podium in the White House Press Room to announce to the world that the US had captured and killed Osama Bin Laden, this man truly is a bad ass.
Here’s the astounding thing: the President knew all along what was happening in Pakistan, where Bin Laden was caught. We now know that just before he and his family decamped to Alabama on Friday, that he gave orders to commence the raid on the compound where Bin Laden had apparently been living for several years near Islamabad. When Obama ridiculed Trump for being the kind of true leader that can fire nutty Gary Busey on his dimwitted “Celebrity Apprentice” show, Navy Seals were about to commence their attack on the compound. Had Obama been a no-show at this very public (and popular) event, there would have been a lot of worry.
Obama had to play it cool, like he always does. And hey, just a reminder: we like our leaders to sometimes be more emotional so we can read what’s on their minds. We like huggers and glossy-eyed types like Clinton, jovial idiots like Reagan, just as we don’t mind crankypants like LBJ. Maybe this is why Obama doesn’t do so well in the polls —we can’t get a full read on the guy. He is Mr. Cool.
And why shouldn’t he be? Imagine the calamity on his presidency had this raid failed or had information leaked out beforehand? In a world of Twitter-aided revolutions that have brought momentous change during this year’s “Arab Spring”, you’d think someone would have leaked the fact that sometime on Saturday, President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, had given the ultimate command of his presidency –that Special Forces, or Navy Seals, had the authority to shoot to kill Bin Laden. Hence this extraordinary photo below, released by the White House. It shows the National Security team –Obama, Biden (clutching a rosary), Hillary Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, Director of Counterintelligence John Brennan, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and others (CIA Director Leon Panetta was at a separate location)—watching in real time the commando raid that captured Bin Laden. Technology allows us to follow what is happening as it is occurring.
The immediacy of this is unprecedented, for not only do we see real officials reacting with shock and concern, but it marks a first for this White House in terms of how much information it is revealing. You never would have had this kind of access in the George W Bush White House.
It’s easy to say that this triumphant moment represents a watershed for Obama –his foreign policy moment, if you will—and for his presidency. It even represents quite a salvo for someone who just a month or so ago announced he was seeking re-election. But rather than politicize this, as many are wont to do, what with insta-polling frenzy that enraptures our 24-hour news cycles, I think it’s well worth stopping for a moment and give credit to where it is due.
While I think that the previous administration laid down some of the policies that set this pursuit in motion, I think it erred in making terrorism a focal flashpoint, one that condoned harsh inquisitions and treatment of prisoners and informants, and of course, one that led us into a disastrous war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was Obama’s decision, and it was his team that methodically worked on this mission since last August, and I am sure there will be more information in the coming days that will unfold. Again, as someone who used to study this kind of thing as a political scientist, how this information is being shared, and in such detail, is remarkable. Unmistakably, this was something that the President ordered, and it succeeded without any loss of American lives, and we finally have closure in the death and careful burial of one of history’s worst masterminds. (Bonus: Sunday was also the anniversary, in 1945, of the capture of Adolf Hitler.)
This is Obama’s moment. All I could think, as he made his address from the White House, was how very Presidential his words and actions were, how this “bully pulpit” from which he uses to make these announcements, are there to inform and inspire us precisely because he is the President. It’s a skill he can deliver with aplomb and ease, and still, at the end of the speech, can reassure us and ask us to come together by recalling a time when, after 9/11, we really did rally together as one people, as one nation and with our collective resolve to help each other through our nation’s worst tragedy on our soil, we still persevered.
This isn’t Obama gloating or being self-serving. It’s about his leadership and our need to hear him at this crucial moment late on a Sunday night. (Bonus: for some parts of the country, the run-up to the Obama announcement pre-empted Trump’s dopey “Celebrity Apprentice” show. Oh yeah: the leggy but dim Playboy model gets fired and Star Jones is called “fat” by a screaming former Real Housewife of Wherever)
We close with something really curious –and probably not so coincidental—about the particular reporting of the Bin Laden death.
Of all the news outlets around the globe that are reporting this event, there is one that has bungled a shocking detail about, well, two people’s names. Yeah, it’s what you think. See, “Obama” sounds like “Osama”. Ha ha. Obama has been taunted by Donald Trump and other people called “birthers” who suggest that our President isn’t really American and the Muslim-sounding connotation and demand that he show his birth certificate.
It’s the kind of shameful and racist pandering that, as far as I know, no other sitting President has had to endure. People like those at Fox News, those whose very livelihood is to undermine the President, would like nothing else than to sustain this kind of story, if it means higher ratings for its programming and eventually being able to kick out Obama in 2012. Hell, Fox even gave Trump his own weekly bully pulpit (and we do mean “bully”) every Monday morning, just as it did with Sarah Palin.
We would love to know what kind of inter-office memo about trashing Obama gets sent around the Fox News Channel. Does O’Reilly’s producer feel that Americans are too stupid to focus on their boss’s streetfighter harangues each night about Obama so they can write up the dumb “talking points” on the screen? Do the moronic hosts of “Fox and Friends” walk in with a drill to lay into Obama? And this, in the President’s greatest moment, what does Fox do? Well, ha ha, get this: all the anchorpersons/androids in these following clips somehow get the name Obama and Osama mixed up.
And in all these rather shocking flub-ups, they actually say that it is Obama, not Osama, that is dead. Oh yeah, that really is Geraldo, grizzled scandal-monger himself and veteran hack who now gets a Rupert Murdoch paycheck. We want to know why. We can’t just turn away and have them say “oops”.
Something is grossly wrong and all this smacks to us of the kind of crass mind control that the Fox News Channel has managed to parlay into what they call a news organization. We think they need to get over it. Note: one of these epic fail clips is from Canada’s Global TV, which, as far as we know, is not a Fox News affiliate.