The insult to the American soldier
“Can’t anybody here play this game?” The president, revealing himself to be Barack Obungle, has done what nobody else could have done, not even the spectacularly hapless original New York Mets, who drove Casey Stengel to his famous cry of terminal frustration.
The White House converted a picture-perfect military operation into a public-relations disaster that will be cited as what not to do and how not to do it in flackery textbooks for a hundred years. Days after the raid on Osama bin Laden’s “mansion” they still can’t get the “fact pattern,” in the language of the White House, even close to straight.
Even that ubiquitous photograph of the president, the secretary of state and assorted minions bravely watching the operation in “real time” looks now to have been a “photo-op” taken after the fact. This is the scene that the goofy John Brennan, the president’s anti-terrorism chief, described as one of unbearable tension endured heroically by the magnificent minions. Hillary seemed to be clutching her throat, choking back terror as she watched the raid unfold, but now Leon Panetta, the chief of the CIA, reveals that 24 minutes of the 40minute video were “blacked out” by some kind of electronic malfunction. Maybe she was only wishing she had ordered pepperoni with extra cheese when the president sent out for pizza.
What a roller coaster ride: Osama bin Laden engaged the SEALs in a firefight. Well, no, actually, it turns out he didn’t. But he did seize a woman, probably one of his wives, to use as a human shield. Uh, well, actually he didn’t do that, either. But he was armed, we know that for sure. Ummm, no, not really. OK, but we’re positive that woman was killed. Uh, not exactly. But we definitely, positively, absolutely know that Osama is dead. We have the photographs to prove it and the public can see them. Er, no, not quite. The president has them but you can’t see them. Everybody will just have to take his word for it.
That won’t happen, either. There was a time when everybody took a president’s word for everything. But nobody trusts the government on anything anymore. Lies have withered public patience. Too bad, Mr. President, but you’ll have to show us the death certificate. No reasonable man can doubt that Osama is dead, dead, dead, but we’re talking now about the Middle East.
You might think the president would have rehearsed his minions in a story, even if concocted, so everybody would tell it like it is. The White House finally shut up with the explanation that “the fact pattern” is still being evaluated. It’s only now dawning on the president that he has done everything possible to guarantee an enduring worldwide harangue over whether Osama is in fact dead, how he was killed, whether dumping the body in the sea was wise, whether how he died violated the decencies of international custom, and whether burial traditions of Shariah law were followed before Osama became the ultimate fish dinner.
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and one of the most distinguished criminal lawyers in the land, says “burying his body at sea constituted the willful destruction of evidence.” The doubts that will be contrived by Muslim redhots would have been prevented if Osama’s body had been subjected to the usual forensic testing, extensive examination of entrance and exit wounds, and paraffin testing for gunpowder residue. “Dead bodies,” he writes in an essay in the Wall Street Journal, “often talk more loudly, clearly and unambiguously than live witnesses.” He notes that when a Muslim or a Jew is murdered in the United States “religious considerations do not trump civil circumstances.”
But the real offense of the Washington wimpery is pushing a weakling’s canard against the military, asserting that the photograph can’t be shown because it would make Muslim terrorists cross at us. But surely the Army and the Navy can take care of themselves; soldiers, sailors and Marines aren’t Campfire Girls. Can anyone imagine FDR and his generals canceling D-Day because an invasion might infuriate the Germans? Or that a Muslim terrorist will now salute an American soldier in Afghanistan and put down his rifle and grenade launcher, telling him “we really appreciate your president’s keeping that ugly photograph to himself.”
Americans come from Mars, so the witticism goes, and Europeans are from Venus. But that doesn’t include this president and his bungling minions. They’re weepy refugees from Pluto.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.