Appalled. That is the only word I can use to describe my reaction to the Obama and Romney campaign’s efforts to politicize the one year anniversary of the successful raid on Usama Bin Laden.
It was my sense that president Obama was pushing the envelope by running a television ad a couple of days before the anniversary trumpeting his success. My sense was that this was the sort of circumstance that probably should not have been talked about in a political ad before the anniversary. While I guess that it is appropriate to take credit for a national security victory, to then couple that with Mitt Romney and what he said four years ago struck me as an unnecessary and destructive initiative that would only serve to do what Pat Caddell and I said that president Obama would do during the campaign which is to further divide the country.
It is regrettable that the Obama campaign would use both the president and former president Clinton as a means of doing an attack ad on Osama bin laden. I was saddened as an American.
I do not think that it is necessarily good political strategy but going beyond political strategy, as an American who could not have been more proud and pleased with our nation and our president and the spontaneous displays of unity across the country when the president announced the success of the raid.
I was equally appalled by the reaction of the Romney campaign. Rather than come forward immediately and praise the president for a job well done and to say that he governor Romney would hope that he would have done the same thing if he were president, the governor attacked president Obama for being divisive through his surrogates and waited until today, may first to do what he should have done immediately which is to celebrate the success and pride that all Americans feel with regard to the raid.
On Sunday, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs insinuated in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Romney might not have given the order to kill bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Asked if Romney would have made the same decision as Obama, Gibbs said: “I don’t think it’s clear that he would.”
And yesterday in New Hampshire, the Governor did something that suggests more than simply having a tin ear. He attacked Jimmy Carter “Of course. Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said, referring to the former Democratic president known for his reluctance to use military force.
Jimmy Carter served seven years in the navy and is responsible for a number of foreign policy successes like the Camp David accords, as well as launching a failed raid in 1980 to get the hostages out of Iran.
My recollection is that neither the Carter nor the Reagan campaigns politicized the hostage crisis – which was a great national tragedy rather than a political failing.
The fact that governor Romney sought to politicize and attack prior presidents in a cheap aside and waited five days to issue the statement that would have demonstrated a united and unified America tells me how out of touch he is with what the American people are looking for.
Douglas E. Schoen is a Democratic pollster, strategist, and commentator. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of several books including the forthcoming “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield). Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.