Monday, May 2, 2011

The Long Game and Competence

I've been watching, reading and listening to the news from last night about the death of Osama Bin Laden - trying to understand my instinctive reactions. The word that kept coming to me late last night as I was trying to pull my thoughts together was competence. You get a sense of what that means when we're reminded of our previous President's ridiculous announcement exactly 8 years ago of "Mission Accomplished." As Steve Benen said this morning:

...there's a difference between chest-thumping rhetoric and getting the job done.

I've never been one to be impressed by swagger. Neither the triumphal emotions of "shock and awe" nor the elation expressed by the crowds last night are things that I can relate to.

But what we learned last night (with more details surfacing today) is that our current President knows how to competently plan the long game.

Obama's critics have said that he is a weak leader in general and in particular does not understand what must be done to combat terrorism. "They are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that's required," said former Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2009, in a typical remark. Yet what emerges from the details of Bin Laden's killing (offered, like the heroic accounts of the Bush years, entirely by officials who work for the sitting president) is that from early in his administration Obama was focused on killing Osama Bin Laden and that he was involved in the process throughout.

In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to "provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice" Osama Bin Laden.

What happened yesterday was a priority President Obama set for his administration almost 2 years ago. And he methodically worked with his national security team - behind the scenes and in private - to get it done. Its the ultimate act of sustained pragmatism...the quintessential turtle showing the hare how its done.

Some people are speculating how this will impact the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Mostly that discussion centers on whether or not the national mood of giving Obama credit for an important victory can me maintained. But instead of that - if I was one of them - I'd be looking at whether or not I want to take on an opponent who, when he sets his mind to something, has just shown once again that he knows how to get the job done.


  1. -*whisper* I seem to be like you - I am not really very good with excessive emotion. *end of whisper* I tend to keep my emotions close to my chest, but that doesn't mean I'm not tremendously pleased with my President and his long game strategy.

    Every day this president cements my respect in his ability to govern with wisdom, resolution, humour and fortitude, to do so with dignity, and without cowering to ANYONE. Nothing he accomplishes surprises me anymore - and I've been feeling like this ever since HCR, compounded by his achievements in the 'Lame Duck' session. Kudos again, Mr. President! What's next on your list, Sir?

  2. I'm full of admiration for how he handled this. The burial at sea seems to be getting scoffed at, but just imagine if there was a grave for people to visit. You don't do anything to make martyrs out of them more than they already are. It was the right decision.


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