President Obama just succeeded where former President George W. Bush failed for seven years — he brought final justice to the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks. So if you generally believe everything Rush Limbaugh tells you, you can now rest assured that Democrats didn’t really “want the terrorists to win.”
But more than that, it’s clear that had Republicans been in charge, Osama bin Laden would still be at large.
But McCain wasn’t alone. In 2007, then-candidate Obama said in a speech, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won’t act, we will.” He was roundly mocked by right-wing figures, which watchdog Media Matters has documented in full.
Radio and TV personality Sean Hannity called the remarks “frightening” and blasted Obama’s “willingness to invade an ally against their will.” Karl Rove lamented that “it highlights a weakness of Sen. Obama, which is his inexperience in international affairs.”
Limbaugh rushed to defend Musharraf. “Well, we’ve got another tape from — I get these guys confused — Osama bin Laden. Another tape says he’s going to invade Pakistan and declare war on Pakistan and Musharraf, which, ladies and gentlemen, puts him on the same page with a Democrat presidential candidate — that would be Barack ’Uss-Obama. … All right, so, we’re going to attack Pakistan. Poor Musharraf’s going to get it on both ends if Barack’s elected.”
On Fox News, “analyst” Ralph Peters got the vapors. “[I]t betrays both the panic that’s starting to set in, in the Obama camp, on military affairs and foreign policy because Iraq’s going so well, and it also betrays his utter naiveté.”
John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post, “This country is never going to insert military forces to conduct a major campaign against al Qaeda inside Pakistan without the permission of that country’s government.” Oops. Meanwhile, neocon Bill Kristol — who has never been right about anything in his life — was derisive: “Barack ObamaBarack ObamaConway: ‘We would welcome a call’ from Lewis Obamas make MLK Day visit to homeless shelter Booker will attend inauguration MORE, losing ground to Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonConway: ‘We would welcome a call’ from Lewis Laura Ingraham mulling Senate run: report 19 companies that Trump has tweeted about MORE because he seemed naive about real-world threats, frantically suggest[ed] that he would invade Pakistan.”
Now Republicans are scrambling to claim at least a sliver of glory for themselves. House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorRyan reelected Speaker in near-unanimous GOP vote Financial technology rules are set to change in the Trump era Trump allies warn: No compromise on immigration MORE (R-Va.) released a statement saying, “I commend President Obama, who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing bin Laden to justice.”
That, of course, is the same Bush who said in 2002, “I don’t know where [bin Laden] is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.” Such vigilance! And in 2005, Bush closed the CIA unit specifically tasked with hunting down bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Bin Laden was useful as an excuse to expand the security state and justify yet more wars.
While killing bin Laden doesn’t magically end the threat of international terrorism, it is a cathartic marker in this struggle — justice served against the author of the horrors of 9-11.
And the reason we get to celebrate this at all is because Republicans weren’t in charge.
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos.