Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Two more quick points to make about the killing of Osama bin Laden and the reaction we've seen to it -- and you might say that one comes from the left side of my brain and the other from the right.

Partisanship Over Patriotism

I've really come to the unfortunate conclusion -- and I'm not sure anyone would argue with this anymore -- that there's nothing that could bring the far ends of the political spectrum together in agreement, particularly those on the right. Watching and listening to the reaction of people like Rush Limbaugh (who barely let on just how sickeningly sarcastic he was being in his "congratulation" of President Obama) and Sarah Palin (who didn't mention Obama at all but thanked George W. Bush) to this event, you get the very distinct impression that it would literally take an alien invasion to get the supposedly hyper-patriotic right to discard its partisan pettiness and simply stand behind the leader of the United States as fellow Americans. It's depressing in ways I can't properly describe to believe that were 9/11 to have occurred, say, yesterday, as opposed to ten years ago, many on the right's blind, seething hatred of Barack Obama would countermand any urge to at least temporarily put our differences aside in the name of the greater good. If something really awful happened to this country again, I simply don't think we'd see the kind of unity we saw in the days, weeks and months following September 11th, 2001.

These people believe that, no matter what, they're right and Obama is wrong. That's the irony of all the hypocrisy and all the contradictory statements we've heard from conservatives over the past two years: They're not contradictory at all; there's always been one very steady underlying message, and that's that President Obama is wrong. No matter what -- he's wrong.

Plugging the Leaks

It's astonishing when you think how long U.S. intelligence managed to keep the possible location of Osama bin Laden and the raid that would eventually kill him a secret. Really -- astonishing. And what this does is blow a gaping hole in the argument by the servile sycophants of Wikileaks and Julian Assange that there should be no state secrets whatsoever. Imagine for a moment what would likely have happened were Assange to have somehow gotten word of either the location of Bin Laden's compound or the pending assault on it. Answer: the latter never would have happened and Bin Laden would probably still be on the run right now, just somewhere other than where he was shot dead. I've always been of the opinion that Wikileaks can do some unqualified good, but its very ethos -- its overriding raison d'etre -- involves the exposure of everything. Those who've vehemently defended the site and its founder's ongoing mission seem to also operate under the delusion that if all secrets are exposed, there will be no place to hide and therefore the world will be a safer place. (These same people also tend to believe that any entity that isn't telling you every single thing about it is, by nature of its secrecy, nefarious.) That's a wonderful little pipe dream, but while not everything left in the shadows is evil there are some secrets that can indeed be looked at as weapons: The person who has one puts everyone else at a disadvantage. Unless you can wipe out what everybody's hiding, you're always going to need to be hiding at least a few things yourself, for your own good.

The United States covers up a lot of really awful behavior, it's true. But not all of it is awful; some is absolutely necessary. The raid that killed Osama bin Laden just proved it.


classic said...

Like the allegedly responsible reporting by an erstwhile ethical newspaper, Wikileaks would probably not "out" the location of Bin Laden. If you ask why Julian gets to decide what is ethical or not, then ask why CNN gets to decide as well. Not that I think either know what is best for me or us, but CNN and Julian are the ones who discover those concealed things we need to know.

Steve said...

My Dad's favorite expressions was "Don't know whether to shit or wind his watch." I was reminded of this hearing about Limbaugh's response. How perfect though that his attempt at sarcasm flew around the world as if he was genuinely lavishing praise on his cartoon enemy? Which just goes to show no matter what Limbaugh does, the media still wants to believe that in his heart he's a patriot. Can we correct that notion once and for all now?

I said to my wife when this was all going down, "The smart critics will let Obama have his day, the election is far enough away to allow that." Apparently even fewer on the right than I thought qualify as "smart." Take Andrew "Soylent Green Candidate" Malcolm here in the LA Times. First he writes a piece mocking the notion that the President should get any credit or took any risk, then he publishes a speculative piece about the hell he'll be in if it wasn't really Bin Laden. Late last night. Some call it treason indeed.

Of course the idea that any president since Lincoln is really taking personal risks versus political risks with the decisions he makes is idiotic beyond measure. And, of course, as if it went wrong the same people wouldn't have laid it all at Obama's feet. He risked his entire presidency on this. But unlike McCain, who would have begun bombing last year, he actually took the time to make sure it was done right. And he did it in the most bad ass manner possible.

brite said...

Chez, are you certain that Wikileaks did not have access to that information simply because it was not released, or did you and Mr. Assange have a conversation about the whereabouts of Bin Laden?
Wikileaks does not release every piece of information it receives as a matter of course and works quite diligently with other journalistic organizations and governments to minimize harm to both individuals and governments when they do release material.
I know you're no fan of either the organization or Assange, but this is really a cheap shot and is inaccurate.

VOTAR said...

I would offer one very small but significant edit to the conclusion of the first part of this post.

"...there's always been one very steady underlying message, and that's that President Obama is in charge, and they're not."

Chez said...

That's fair criticism to an extent, Brite. But Obama and his team played this one very close to the vest and with very good reason. Julian Assange may not release every single detail he has, but there's no denying -- and if you do you're being dishonest with yourself -- that his stated goal is the eventually dissolution of almost all state secrets. Even the ones kept in the interest of national security. His acolytes, incidentally -- and I won't bother naming them by name yet again -- are even more strident and radical in those beliefs. So, no -- it's not a cheap shot.

The Bacon said...

Chez (sorry if this is a double post)

We tend to find what we are looking for and discount what we aren't.

The reactions of Palin and Limbaugh fit nicely into your view of the right, so that's what you found.

I say Brit Hume, Steve Hayes and Charles Krauthammer heap praise upon the president for his courage and leadership.

Joining them in a chorus of praise for the president were Speaker Boehner; Former President Bush; Presidential hopefuls Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Trump (arghh) and Huntsmen; former presidential nominee McCain; Republican whip Eric Cantor; Senator Rand Paul.

The list goes on and on and on.

Limbaugh and Palin are asshats. It's slander to take their words and brush half the political spectrum with them.

Chez said...

It's not slander, Bacon. Please don't be melodramatic.

The problem is a) that people like Palin and Limbaugh still command an impressive audience, and tragically so do idiots like Jim Hoft and the trolls over at Red State, Breitbart, etc. ... and b) at least a few of the people you mentioned did in fact give a hat tip to Obama, but a lot of their comments were very carefully tempered. Of course not everyone is on the bandwagon -- and while I don't know how the left would have reacted had, say, Bush managed to nail Bin Laden, I can only speak for myself in saying that I know I would've been proud and congratulatory regardless of who was in office. There are times when you put aside partisanship -- and you don't even do it begrudgingly, you do it because it's right.

The Bacon said...

Sorry about "slander." My limited vocabulary got the best of me. I couldn't think of the correct word.

But I stand by my larger point. To quote Limbaugh and Palin and call it the reaction of the right would be like quoting Greenwald and Randi Rhodes and calling it the opinion of the left.

HB said...

During the Second Punic War, 200+ years before the birth of Christ, Hannibal Barca was a Carthaginian military commander who accomplished what no other leader could; he won multiple victories against the mighty Roman armies, eventually occupying most of Italy for 15 years. In fact, Hannibal literally stood at the gates of Rome on the verge of taking the city and thus, literally changing the course of human history forever.

More impressive is the fact that man was in his early twenties commanding an army of nearly half the numbers of what was the world’s finest army. Speaking some 40 different languages, his army was mostly mercenaries with Libyan heavy infantry, Numidian spearmen, Balearic slingers, Numidian archers and javelinmen, Numidian light cavalry, Berber cavalry, , Celtiberian cavalry, and Libyan-Phoenician cavalrymen.

The Romans engaged in a battle of attrition, literally refusing to fight, but always guarding the gates. So what did ultimately defeat Hannibal? Lack of support from his home country.

Despite starting the war with the full backing of full backing of Carthaginian oligarchy, that support began to wane. Carthaginian politics consisted of wealthy families and small city based dynasties, as well as a board of judges. The main political factions were divided into two parts; those who supported the war and those who did not. The leader of those who did not support the war (at least when the riches being sent home began to dwindle), Hanno II slowly strangled resources and public support, despite military victories heretofore unheard of such as the battle at Cannae.

In short, because of political hand wringing, back biting and back stabbing, Hannibal was never allowed to finish what he started. Some historians have made the same comparisons to the efforts of General Patton in Europe or even American efforts in Vietnam.

So today, we have a military commander who has just struck a tremendous strategic victory and within hours, the political hand wringing, back biting and back stabbing. Did you see the picture of President Obama in the Situation Room? If allowed, the man would have jumped through the screen and strangled Bin Laden himself.

Our enemies will remain our enemies whether we radically change our policies or not. Religion is being used to manipulate the people for a fight that is much more economically driven than anything else. Just like every other major conflicts in the history of mankind. The call to get out now only hands the sticks to the drumbeaters who wish to sound our eventual defeat.

This is not to say that dissent and disagreement is bad. But it is to say that to believe that the dissent and disagreement do not have negative consequences is either naive or blindly and willfully and irresponsible.

Chez said...

Thanks, Egon.

J. Dack said...

Supporting Wikileaks (at least philosophically) and believing the govt. shouldn't keep anything from us doesn't mean we're all dumb enough to think secret ops should be public knowledge BEFORE they're carried out.

We DO demand to know everything our govt HAS done. Only an idiot would expect covert ops to come with a press release before the fact.

Stephen said...

The emails have begun. My favorite one so far:

Subject: PASS THIS ON!

Let's be clear on this: OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN victory!!