President Obama will bask in the satisfaction of all Americans that justice has finally been done-and done through an assault that combined the best of intelligence work with a courageous and well planned military operation. It is entirely appropriate that Mr. Obama and the Administration get and take a fair amount of credit.
It is therefore unfortunate that Mr. Obama seems to want more than that fair share the American people will naturally and rightly give him. His remarks last night were far too much laced with words like “I met repeatedly,” “at my direction,” and “I determined,” trying to take personal credit for the years of painstaking work by our intelligence community. Mr. Obama might have noted that this work began under President Bush, but as usual he did not. It was also a mistake for him to use this occasion to deliver unrelated comments about “the pursuit of prosperity for our people” and “the struggle for equality for all our citizens.” A shorter and more straightforward announcement would have been more appropriate for this occasion.
Once again here the White House appeared unable to get the messaging quite right, a failure magnified by the amateurish delay of more than an hour in Mr. Obama’s remarks. The White House told the nation at roughly 10 p.m. that the President would speak at 10.30. Had the President done so, he would have delivered fabulous and shocking news. By the time he actually spoke nearer to midnight his words were an anticlimax, for all the news had leaked. Whatever the cause of this delay — Mr. Obama editing the remarks for too long, or a belatedly discovered need to brief Congressional and world leaders — it suggested that the calm professionalism in the face of crisis shown here by our military and intelligence professionals has yet to be achieved in the White House.