That quote is from who else but Mitt Romney responding to a reporter’s question whether he would have replicated Obama’s order to send the military into Pakistan to eliminate Osama Bin Laden.
Somehow the general election spectacle has moved its sights onto Barack Obama’s authorization of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination. On the left, Obama has been touting the decision in ads and surrogates have it as a permanent part of the “accomplishment” talking points. I suspect the usage of the Osama decision is almost entirely Axelrod’s doing. When it became public that Osama had been taken out everyone gave Obama credit for the decision to go into Pakistan and the nation as a whole experienced a moment of relief from justice being served. Obama’s personal hand in that operation and the universal positivity of the whole affair makes it a topic far too mouthwatering for someone like Axelrod to leave alone. But it is getting Obama in a bit of trouble.
On the right and on the left Obama is being criticized for over-doing the celebration and using for political purposes. This criticism is legitimate, but line being crossed here is a subtle one. The distinction that Arianna Huffington is agreeable. Giving access to americans and the media about what went into the decision is okay, it is a matter of history and public interest. However, turning decisions like kill orders, or alternatively, the decision to drop atomic weapons on an enemy nation into a political attack ad is entirely un-presidential. It does not respect the gravity and essential humanity intrinsic to situations that have executives making kill orders on behalf of the nation. Moreover, this is not up for debate. Both Obama and Romney are reasonable men with leadership experience. The decision in question is not a matter of policy difference or philosophy, nor is it part of any established rhetorical conflict. The entire attack sounds like spin and most importantly, does not speak to an issue that retains saliency for Americans that are only half paying attention to general election politics.
Obama ought to use the Osama call as inoculation to anyone who says he is unfit to lead and make executive decisions. That line of attack is over. He can also mention it as a part of his efforts to end our wars in the middle east. These are political wins for him that are clean. However, the “what decision would Romney have made” is not. The negative media coverage of it make the entire message a net negative for the campaign and plays into conservative predictions that Obama would be running a horrible, no-good, negative campaign.
There are plenty of good things to go after Romney about, this is not one of them.