Eight years after he released an inflammatory video just days before election day that may have helped George W. Bush win a second term, the late Osama bin Laden has become a political talisman for Barack Obama and the Democrats — a reminder of the president’s most tangible accomplishment since taking office.
Between the video of Bill Clinton praising Obama for ordering the Navy SEAL mission a year ago that found and killed bin Laden in Pakistan, and Vice President Joe Biden’s new slogan, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” it’s clear the White House has decided the killing is a legitimate — and especially useful — campaign weapon, as the AP reports:
Obama’s re-election campaign is portraying his risky decision to go after America’s top enemy as a defining difference with his Republican presidential opponent, suggesting Mitt Romney might not have had the guts to order a mission that put lives and perhaps a presidency at stake.
Obama himself is opening up on the raid again — and opening the secretive White House Situation Room as an interview stage — to hail the one-year anniversary.
The broader goal for Obama, whether through campaign web videos or the trappings of the White House, is not to just to remind voters of an enormous victory on his watch. It is to maximize a political narrative that he has the courage to make tough calls that his opponent might not.
“Does anybody doubt that had the mission failed, it would have written the beginning of the end of the president’s first term?” Vice President Joe Biden says in laying out Obama’s foreign policy campaign message. “We know what President Obama did. We can’t say for certain what Governor Romney would have done.”