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Tilting at Windmills

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May 2, 2011

IF CANTOR REALLY WANTS TO GO THERE.... House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), shortly after President Obama's remarks on Osama bin Laden, issued a related statement. It included this gem:

"I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice."

There's a fair amount of this rhetoric bouncing around this morning, and it's not especially surprising -- Republicans aren't going to credit President Obama, regardless of merit, so it stands to reason they'll try to bring George W. Bush into the picture.

If this is going to be a new GOP talking point, we might as well set the record straight.

In March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him.... You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.

In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."

And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.

I'm happy to extend plenty of credit to all kinds of officials throughout the government, but crediting Bush's "vigilance" on bin Laden is deeply silly.

Update: Donald Rumsfeld added this morning that Obama "wisely" followed Bush's lead. He either has a very short memory, or he's lying and hopes you have a very short memory.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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March 2002 was 6 months after 9/11, right? Or have I not have enough coffee yet this morning?

Posted by: Speed on May 2, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm just relieved they're not framing it as Obama eliminating his chief rival to head the new caliphate.

But I guess Beck hasn't gotten started yet.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on May 2, 2011 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Deeply silly" describes every word that comes out of Cantor's mouth.

Posted by: Norwood Woman on May 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Cantor was actually referring to GWB's success in making Osama bin Laden a household name.

Posted by: rk on May 2, 2011 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

It's official the Republicans are accepting Bin Ladin's death but are trying to claim that all Obama did was follow GWB's lead.

I went to the Fox website. There is a prominant story about GWB praising somebody, but Obama's name is totally missing from the front page.

Posted by: Ron Beyrs on May 2, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

This will all be in Corsi's next book, "Swift Helicopter Veterans for Truth,' about how Bush actually killed OBL, and Obama just discovered that fact, and that he staged this whole raid charade to take credit for what the rightious George W. Bush did.

Also, too, Trump will be clammoring for OBL's long-form death certificate, screaming "Show me the body!!!"

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 2, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

As you know probably better than most, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), being an idiot is not news.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on May 2, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Eric Cantor: Frank Luntz disciple and word-twisting weasel.

Posted by: goterpsgo on May 2, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Face it meatheads. Bush whiffed. There is no way to sugar coat it. Huff and puff all you want. No one is buying that horseshit except the zombies. God knows there are a bunch of them but that doesn't mean we have to listen to them.

Posted by: jSW on May 2, 2011 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Might be worthwhile to keep the fact prominent that 9-11 happened on the Bush watch in the first place. We know the Repub's aversion to factual history.

Posted by: jward23 on May 2, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

There will be confusion and anger coming from the right. When their primary enemy, President Obama, is being given credit for something, their first instinct is to simply deny the deed itself had much merit. The secondary instinct it to give credit to a Republican. And the tertiary instinct is to suggest a conspiracy theory. We'll see it all in the next few hours.

Posted by: walt on May 2, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Reading Michelle Bachman's statement made me reach for the sick bag, she praised the US military. never even mentioned the president. Others praising Bush do not seem to remember Bush refused to go into Pakistan and the presidential wannabees e.g. McCain & Pawlenty tried to crucify Obama for his strategy (which is what got Bin Laden).

Posted by: j on May 2, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yanno I would think Cantor would have a little compassion here and talk of how maybe this would bring closure to those who lost loved ones on 911.

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 2, 2011 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

This was the accepted narrative all over cable "news" this morning. I saw one clip of Bush, from 2001, vowing to get Bin Laden, played about half a dozen times. The one of Bush telling the press that he didn't spend too much time thinking about Bin Laden anymore seems to have disappeared down the memory hole. And oddly, the "attaboys" didn't extend back to Pres. Clinton, who warned Bush about Al Quaeda.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on May 2, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama had followed the vigilance of "President" Bush, bin Laden would have been the one making an announcement last night.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on May 2, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Cantor is a no class, lo rent kinda guy...I commend EVERYONE involved in this operation who KEPT THEIR MOUTHS SHUT and didn't allow Congress and their rush to the microphones to screw it up. YAHOO!

Posted by: SYSPROG on May 2, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

The selectively permeable membrane of Bushism:

Bush's fiscal policy = not responsible for current events.

Bush's anti-terror policy = YAY!

Posted by: Grumpy on May 2, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

It's my understanding that there has been a unit dedicated to finding bin Laden for many years now, formed during the Bush Administration. Bush's public comments de-emphasizing bin Laden as a priority target were for public consumption and didn't necessarily reflect the non-public prioritization.

This particular post by Steve is much ado about nothing. Of course, Cantor and other Republicans are going to mention Bush in order to make this achievement seem more non-partisan, and there's really nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: DRF on May 2, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

As it has many times before, the GOP reaction to anything that makes them look bad while making the Dems look good reminds me of a character from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: the father who is trying to marry his milquetoast son to his neighbor's daughter. After some major embarrassment, you can always count on them to say "Now, now, let's not argue about who killed who..." So today, when a Democratic President does somehting a Republican couldn't do, we hear, "Now, now, let's not argue about who should get the credit, we're all on the same team here." This after 9 years of calling Dems "objectively pro terrorist",etc.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on May 2, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I thik there is something wrong with that DRF. Politicians, IMO, are opportunists who will use either good news or a crisis to spin in their favor.

The only thing they wont spin in their favor is things they are responsible for..then its wielded as a mace to clobber their opponents with.

Either way its dishonest.

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 2, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

DRF...a classy response would have been 'we applaud all who have been involved in this ten year mission'. The reflexive response to Obama is no credit, no nothing. He's not a leader, etc. etc. 'Class' was Obama calling GWBush with the news before announcing it to the media.

Posted by: SYSPROG on May 2, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to the things you listed in the post, don't forget:

C. Rice quotes Bush as saying he is "tired of swatting flies" during the 9/11 hearings, referring to going after AQ in Afghanistan;

Prior to 9/11 both Bush and Rice (then NSA) ignored warnings, and just before 9/11 Rice was putting the final touches on a speech she was going to deliver on her number one priority, missile defense;

Bush's comment that he didn't want to waste a "million dollar missile" in Afghanistan;

C. Rice blew an undercover operation the Brits were conducting after they flipped an operative;

There were two occasions where someone in the White House refused to give the military permission to hit an AQ camp in Iraq north of the no-fly zone;

The Bush administration blocked any meaningful investigation into 9/11 for about a year before the Commission was established, long after most of the forensic evidence was carted away and sold overseas as scrap metal;

Tom Ridge admitted that terror warnings were hyped for political purposes.

All in all, the utter neglect the Bush administration gave to actually pursuing AQ, compared to the scary rhetoric about the existential threat of terrorism, was always deeply troubling. I dare say you could not find a thimbleful of integrity in the whole Bush White House.

Posted by: worcestergirl on May 2, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Under Bush, the priority was Saddam Hussein and finding the elusive "weapons of mass destruction"...not truly fighting terrorism or dealing with Afghanistan. You don't hear of strategy meetings in the Bush's administration, you just hear the question, "have we found him yet". The war on terror then amounted to a defense of torture. And the Taliban was allowed to re-group...

Posted by: golack on May 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

The real crazies haven't weighed in yet. Care to wager how long it will be before they demand Osama's death certificate or he isn't dead?

Posted by: CDW on May 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least Cantor hasn't made a stand of doubting the death of Bin Laden because of the burial at sea. But "deathers" are already making hay of that, since it left no direct evidence (DNA is said to have been obtained, but an initial and unofficial picture of dead OBL is retracted AFAICT due to evidence of 'shopping.) I suppose there will be release of personal effects that will help show identity, but don't expect ditto faux nation to go down without a fight.

Posted by: neil b. on May 2, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

'Class' was Obama calling GWBush with the news before announcing it to the media

Yes, it was classy to notify the family of the deceased before it hit the news.

Posted by: G.Kerby on May 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP is so predictable. Was there ever any doubt this was how they'd spin it in order to make their zero (Bush) into a hero?

Posted by: June on May 2, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Ron posted:

"I went to the Fox website. There is a prominant story about GWB praising somebody, but Obama's name is totally missing from the front page."

You must have been at the MSNBC website...the story on FOX not only has the headline of:

"President George W. Bush Congratulates Obama on Bin Laden Killing"

But the first paragraph is as follows:

"Former President George W. Bush congratulated President Obama and the members of the military after learning that the U.S. has successfully killed Usama bin Laden."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/02/president-george-w-bush-congratulates-obama-bin-laden-killing/#ixzz1LD2vbLcJ

Posted by: TIA on May 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting that so many of these folks who doubt the death of Osama accept without evidence the stories of both Christmas AND Easter.

Posted by: DAY on May 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

How nice of "orwell" to confirm Cantor's point that as far as dishonest talking points go, Republicans got nothin'.

Posted by: Gregory on May 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I live in Texas, on my way to work today, listening to the local news, you will think Dubya was president. No BS. They hardly mentioned Obama.

Posted by: Dude on May 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dude - I hear you. Funny how credit goes all retroactive when something good happens, but blame develops complete amnesia about the Bush years, when the partisan mind sifts out data.

This is equal parts emotion and denial. The wingers KNOW Obama accomplished this - those are the facts. But they are flipping it backwards - so that Bin Laden's death bears credit on them, their ideology, and George W. Bush.

Posted by: Bokonon on May 2, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

went over to memorandium.com to see what stories the wingnutosphere are blogging about...

since there was mostly radio silence over the actual news of osama's death, this was the big winner

Michelle Malkin: "All About Obama: Who's politicizing bin Laden kill? — Leftists are swarming Twitter to chastise any conservatives who dare give any credit to President Bush for his resolve and role in leading the post-9/11 counterrorism/national security response to the worst attack on American soil."

Discussion: Runnin' Scared, RealClearPolitics Video Log, Associated Press, The Gateway Pundit, Weasel Zippers, Le·gal In·sur·rec· tion, GayPatriot and The Sundries Shack

and so it goes....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 2, 2011 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Just a question: Under which president's watch did the WORST terrorists attack in US history happen?

Seems to me that he had an (R) after his name... Didn't this same president also say that he wasn't "really concerned" about finding Bin Laden?"

This is nothing new: The Republicans are trying to use some sort of "Jedi Mind Trick" into having the American people believe that 9/11 DIDN'T happen on Bush's watch and now they're going to try to convince everybody that somehow OBAMA didn't getting Bin Laden.

Killing Bin Laden is totally Obama's accomplishment...

Posted by: Hill on May 2, 2011 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy...

At lunch today, I got as pissed as I have been in a very long time (with chest pains to match it) when an asshole at the next table proclaimed that the killing of Osama bin Lauden proves that Bush's torture program at GitMo was justified.

Among the biggest failures and disappointments of the Obama administration is their failure to investigate (and prosecute as warranted) the Bush administration crimes, especially their torture programs.

Setting aside the immorality and criminality (both domestic and international) of torture, any American who justifies Americans torturing anyone is providing justification for others to torture Americans, including military captured on a battlefield or kidnapped!

The destruction of morality within the amerikan sheeple is one of the biggest tragedities of the Bush Criminal Enterprise.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on May 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's my understanding that there has been a unit dedicated to finding bin Laden for many years now, formed during the Bush Administration.

Actually Bush disbanded that unit in 2006, so to try to give him *any* credit for killing bin Laden is a load of crap.


Posted by: Kilgore Trout on May 2, 2011 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

So ... Malkin is all upset that Obama is "politicizing" bin Laden's death? And is offended that "leftists" are out celebrating, and trying to deny President Bush credit?

All I can say is this - that woman has got gall.

No matter what happens, you can always be sure of one thing in Malkinworld - somehow, in some way, the liberals are at fault, and you need to be outraged about it.

Posted by: Bokonon on May 2, 2011 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Think Republicans should run with the plan:
"If President George W. Bush hadn't screwed-up so much in his attempts to get Osama bin Laden, bin Laden would not have been around for President Obama to get him!"

Posted by: Brian on May 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Bush praise is nothing more than a headfake they'll drop in the next 24 hours, hoping to get us ranting about Bush again and make us seem petty.

The actual line I believe they will push is that it's the soldiers and CIA who deserve all of the credit, and Obama deserves none. They'll spin any argument against that as anti-military and anti-American.

But the truth is the 2012 election was won this week. The mushy middle will eat this up. I wonder how many exploratory committees will end up with candidates not running now.

Posted by: doubtful on May 2, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bush let Bin Laden go at Tora Bora.

I repeat: Bush let Bin Laden go at Tora Bora.

Posted by: The Fool on May 2, 2011 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I always thought the Bushies were going to time OBL's death to suit their PR needs, i.e., a crucial congressional vote, or to wipe some Rethug scandal out of the headlines, or just to make the already murderous president look even better in the eyes of his worshippers. Why Bush so publicly distanced himself from any ongoing search and assassination mission of OBL has always been a mystery to me since the political value of killing OBL was so high. A plausible explanation is that Bush was downplaying expectations so as to make even a bigger splash when the moment was right. Karl Rove had to be in there somewhere.

That all the players in the previous administration and the MSM don't seem to remember any of Bush's demurrals isn't exactly a surprise. None of them have any credibility among thinking people, which means of course they have an enormous audience.

Posted by: rrk1 on May 2, 2011 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but this covert action DID NOT require our invasion of two countries, the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. Not to mention the TRILLIONS of dollars we will ulimately pay when all the costs are tallied decades from now.

The Gitmo intelligence notwithstanding (I'm confident we could have secured it through other means), we could have avoided all of this if we had kept our heads in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and treated the attack as the INTERNATIONAL CRIME it was.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 2, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush family has long been very close to the uber-wealthy Saudis, which is the social group from which Osama bin Laden developed.

Obviously I have no proof, but I suspect that there was an understanding of some sort from one family to the next that the US wouldn't go all out to capture a friend of the Bush's friends. A friend of my friend is not my enemy, something like that.

Otherwise, why wouldn't have GWB moved heaven and earth to go after Osama when he had the chance? It would have made him a hero forever.

Posted by: pf on May 2, 2011 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Not saying Obama's a saint and all. But there is an explanation of why he gave Bush short shrift in his victory-lap speech that doesn't require psychoanalyzing Obama's "egotism" or parsing his political opportunism.

Bush was no help. At all.

Anybody really think Obama would not have credited Bush in the speech had W really been helpful? Anybody reasonable, I mean? Think of all the bipartisan brownie points he could have racked up. That he didn't credit W doesn't speak volumes about Obama. It speaks volumes about Bush.

Posted by: beejeez on May 2, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

While perhaps Bush wouldn't have allowed a mission such as this...

...Rumsfeld would have suggested it. So maybe he's just assuming his boss would've taken his advice.

Posted by: Crissa on May 3, 2011 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK
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