Obama’s stolen valor

White House can’t stop politi­ciz­ing the bin Laden raid

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

The more the White House brags about the bin Laden raid, the more it is di­min­ished. Yet the ad­min­is­tra­tion will not stop ex­ploit­ing the mis­sion for po­lit­i­cal gain.

The lat­est case of ex­ces­sive self-praise comes from Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den Jr. Speak­ing Mon­day at a fundraiser in Mor­ris Town­ship, N.J., Mr. Bi­den in­voked half a mil­len­nium of his­tory to ex­tol Pres­i­dent Obama’s dar­ing lead­er­ship. “You can go back 500 years,” he said. “You can­not find a more au­da­cious plan.” Se­ri­ously? A state­ment that over-the-top has a tinge of des­per­a­tion.

As a nod to Mr. Bi­den’s grasp of his­tory, the U.S. Naval In­sti­tute has be­gun to com­pile a list of 500 au­da­cious acts of plan­ning from the last 500 years. It’s an im­pres­sive chron­i­cle of mil­i­tary achieve­ments both fa­mous and less well­known. Some are large-scale and high-risk, like the D-day in­va­sion or the In­chon land­ing dur­ing the Korean War. There was the “Mir­a­cle at Dunkirk” in which the Royal Navy and or­di­nary Bri­tish cit­i­zens res­cued around 340,000 cut-off troops from death or cap­ture by Hitler’s forces. The April 18, 1942, raid on Tokyo led by Jimmy Doolit­tle, a com­plex, highly risky but suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion boosted morale on the home front and earned its leader a Medal of Honor.

On July 4, 1976, 100 Is­raeli spe­cial forces flew 2,500 miles to Uganda to res­cue more than 100 hostages seized by Pales­tinian hi­jack­ers on Air France flight 139. The Is­raelis lost only one man, the com­man­der of the as­sault unit Lt. Col. Yonatan Ne­tanyahu, brother of the cur­rent prime min­is­ter. Four years later, the United States at­tempted a sim­i­lar but un­suc­cess­ful plan to res­cue Amer­i­can hostages in Iran. The Desert One op­er­a­tion is of­ten cited as con­tribut­ing to the fail­ure of Pres­i­dent Carter’s re-elec­tion bid. “Do any one of you have a doubt that if that [bin Laden] raid failed, that this guy would be a one-term pres­i­dent?” Mr. Bi­den asked rhetor­i­cally. To the con­trary, had the bin Laden raid been un­suc­cess­ful, the Amer­i­can peo­ple would never have heard about it, so the down­side risk was min­i­mal.

One of the most truly au­da­cious plans in U.S. mil­i­tary his­tory un­folded 50 miles south of Mr. Bi­den’s fundraiser. On the day af­ter Christ­mas 1776, Ge­orge Washington led a small but de­ter­mined force against the Hes­sian gar­ri­son at Tren­ton. Washington risked more than his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer; he was bet­ting his army, his per­sonal safety, per­haps the fate of the nascent United States. The ro­man­tic paint­ing of Washington cross­ing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze at­tempts to cap­ture the grav­ity of that mo­ment. It’s an event rightly en­shrined in Amer­i­can myth, a mo­ment when destiny truly hung in the bal­ance. Washington’s army pre­vailed at Tren­ton, and he then boldly marched north and routed the Bri­tish at Prince­ton.

Those who have had the honor to meet gen­uine he­roes know they are mod­est about their ac­com­plish­ments. Their au­dac­ity speaks for it­self. So while Mr. Bi­den chest thumps and Mr. Obama fist bumps, five cen­turies of he­roes look down on them and shake their heads in si­lence.

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