Today President Obama used a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Japan as a campaign opportunity. In response to a friendly question from a reporter–it appeared to be planted, actually–Obama repeated his claim that Mitt Romney would not have authorized the killing of Osama bin Laden:
Romney is right, of course, that even Jimmy Carter would have authorized bin Laden’s killing once our military and intelligence agencies had tracked him down. But what is Obama talking about when he refers to something Romney ostensibly once said about not killing bin Laden? If you missed the origin of this controversy, it comes from an Obama campaign commercial that heaps credit on Obama for Seal Team Six’s raid on Obama’s house, and suggests that Romney wouldn’t have authorized the mission. The Romney quote is, “It’s not worth moving heaven and Earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” Of course, Romney didn’t say what Obama now claims he did–that, if we knew bin Laden’s whereabouts and were prepared to kill him, Romney would decline to authorize the mission. Within a few days after the speech from which the quoted sentence came, Romney was asked about it in a presidential debate:
Romney: Thank you. Of course we get Osama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go, and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America.
Moderator: Can we move heaven and earth to do it?
Romney: We’ll move everything to get him. But I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person — Osama bin Laden — because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another.
This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and Al Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate.
They ultimately want to bring down the United States of America.
This is a global effort we’re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It’s more than Osama bin Laden.
But he is going to pay, and he will die.
Not much ambiguity there. Note, too, that it is Romney, not Obama, who is right about the broader issues–in particular, the Muslim brotherhood.
One last observation: the Obama administration is going macho on us now, but remember the early days after the bin Laden mission, when the administration tried to claim that the SEALs were acting in self-defense? Apparently Obama is now willing to forget that embarrassing interlude and acknowledge that we killed bin Laden on purpose. But I think it is safe to assume that if it had been Romney who had given the mission a green light, he wouldn’t have tried to claim that the SEALs had to shoot bin Laden because they thought he was reaching for a firearm.
UPDATE: Michael Ramirez is unimpressed by Obama’s claim to extraordinary courage: