It has been precisely one year since Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda terrorist and mastermind behind the September 11th attacks in New York, was assassinated by a team of Navy SEALs in Pakistan. This historic moment finally concluded the decade-long search for the madman.
President Obama ordered the hit last year knowing full well the implication that went along with it. Had the SEALs been killed or captured, had bin Laden escaped, or had a confrontation with Pakistani troops occurred, the decision would have been branded as an enormous failure.
Instead it was greeted with praise as the operation was extremely successful. The SEALs came out unscathed, gathered some valuable intelligence from the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, and took out target number one on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Understandably, the President has used this successful move as a campaign talking point in the past week to highlight his foreign policy credentials in his first term. Harder to understand is his decision to use success to attack Mitt Romney on foreign policy.
In a recently released campaign ad, a prompt asks what Mitt Romney would do in the same situation that President Obama was in this time last year. Then a quote from Governor Romney comes on screen stating “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person” insinuating that Romney would not have taken the same measures in this circumstance.
The point made is effective, but it is also misleading. The quote is from 2007, years before the assassination. Furthermore, Mitt Romney has publicly praised the President’s decision numerous times.
Obviously the Obama team wants to highlight Romney’s lack of foreign policy qualifications, but there are much better ways to do so than to manipulate quotes out of context. President Obama has had a very strong first term in regards to international affairs, and Mitt Romney has little experience when it comes to that discipline.
So why try to hit Romney on something vague when there are plenty of concrete examples available? It’s unclear and distasteful. Four years ago Obama rallied Americans with positive messages and won in a landslide; he would be well served to remember this and to focus on his successes—not the fabricated shortcomings of his rival.