When Presidents Win

Illustration for article titled When Presidents Win

That high-pitched clacking you hear is the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the radical right, whose efforts to paint President Barack Obama as a weak-spirited and feckless protector of America's national security have been buried as deep as the seaborne corpse of Osama bin Laden.


Now that the world's most wanted terrorist has been eliminated in a heroic raid after years of relentless intelligence gathering and careful planning by Obama's strategists, his critics from the lunatic fringe have been reduced to ludicrous ranting and sarcasm. With nothing of substance to say, these clowns were reduced to making up things to complain about. Let me cite two examples.

Take Sarah Palin, who had been mercifully absent from the headlines for a few weeks, leading some naïfs to believe that we might never again have to untangle her syntax and twisted thinking.

Alas, she returned to the fray by praising former President George W. Bush "for having made the right calls to set up this victory" but omitting Obama's name. She followed up with an inane tweet accusing Obama of "pussyfooting around" for his prudent decision to withhold gory photographs of bin Laden's dead body. And then she admonished the president, "Don't do kind of that birth certificate whole mocking of Americans for asking for it."

Palin, of course, made no mention of the fact that Bush had declined Obama's invitations to share credit for bin Laden's demise by joining him at a ceremony at New York City's Ground Zero on Thursday. But though Palin may be guilty of cherry-picking the facts, conspiracy mongering and crimes against grammar, at least she tried to say what she meant. Not so another, even louder and far less scrupulous voice from the fringe, the cowardly broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who characteristically tried to have it both ways.

He began his first broadcast of the week by "congratulating" Obama so sincerely that even sophisticated observers like Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast appeared to be taken in. What they missed was Limbaugh's sarcasm, as when he suggested that "it may be that President Obama single-handedly came up with the technique in order to pull this off," adding, "According to news reports, not one member of the military, not General Petraeus, nobody in the intel community, nobody had the slightest idea of going in there and using Special Forces."

It didn't matter to Limbaugh that Obama had never claimed to be solely responsible for devising the raid or that no news report had ever asserted that no one in the military or intelligence communities had the idea of using U.S. Navy SEALs to carry out the mission. To the contrary, the White House has emphasized that it took months of collaboration among the agencies to come up with the plan — the exact opposite of what Limbaugh was suggesting.


But then, he, like his fellow right-wing fanatics, has never been one to let inconvenient facts get in the way of a good smear. And now that Obama has accomplished a feat that eluded Bush for nearly eight years without succumbing to chest-thumping and chauvinism, we can expect a lot more of this drivel from Palin, Limbaugh and their ilk.

Every time Obama accomplishes something significant, the right-wing swill will get deeper and deeper.


Jack White is a regular contributor to The Root.

is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.