Getting the Narrative Right
Even Saturday Night Live has had some fun at President Obama’s expense by caricaturing his serial reminders that he ordered a quite necessary and successful hit on Bin Laden. I am reminded of that by two recent quotes.
Here is Vice President Biden appraising the event in terms of political advantage and capital:
The boldest undertaking any president has undertaken on a single event in modern history. . . . The American people no longer confuse being contemplative with having courage. The American people watched him execute the decision — not only putting the lives of those special operators on the line, but his entire future on the line as president of the United States of America. And he didn’t hesitate. . . . The American people now . . . have a crystal clear picture of how strong and decisive this president is. And that’s the last piece of the puzzle that had to be put in place for this great man. . . . People are now beginning to take a second look at those incredibly difficult but absolutely necessary decisions the president had to make the day we walked into the West Wing.
And here is New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick on the significance of the hit in terms of presidential modesty and unwillingness to use the event for political advantage:
The most stirring aspect of Obama’s speech announcing bin Laden’s death was its sobriety, its refusal of ‘Mission Accomplished’ theatrics. One of the most surprising features of his Presidency has been its stubborn repudiation of drama . . . Obama has revealed himself to have a certain disdain for the emotional, for the memorable phrase and theatrical gesture. . . . To some, it has seemed that Obama’s determination to avoid the vulgar and the cheap is a form of superiority, a bearing designed to make everyone else seem vulgar and cheap But his seriousness is a welcomed antidote to a political culture infected with self-congratulation, delusion, and paranoia.