Almost eight years ago, presidential candidate John Kerry accepted the Democratic nomination with the infamous line: “I’m John Kerry, and I’m reporting for duty.” His military service, in a war three decades old, became the centerpiece of his campaign.
Within weeks, the Republicans had turned what was seen as one of Kerry’s strongest assets against him. Swift Boats Veterans for Truth—which included over 200 Vietnam veterans, most who hadn’t even served with Kerry—succeeded in raising doubts about the heroic narrative Kerry was selling. What seemingly started as a scratch turned into a sucking chest wound for his campaign.
Yesterday, the Obama campaign got clawed.
Drudge blasted the headline from London’s Daily Mail: SEALS SLAM OBAMA FOR MAKING IT POLITICAL.
What was supposed to be an easy win—a victory lap on the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death, trumping up the president’s most militant moment—appeared to be slipping away.
The frustration—or, even anger—within the SEAL community is real, and has been brewing for months, particularly among a politically conservative core of operators. It started immediately after the raid, with questions among the Special Forces and intelligence community of whether the president should have waited to announce the kill to exploit the intelligence cache at Osama’s compound. It simmered after a Chinook helicopter was shot down, killing 30 Americans, 22 of them Navy SEALs from Team Six.
Was it a coincidence, SEALs asked themselves, catastrophe hit Team Six so soon after being named as the team responsible for the killing?
These brave men were just so much campaign fodder.
Don’t think so?
Then gaze upon the linguistic stylings of Dana Milbank, a leftist media member who has just about had enough of the Obama perpetual campaign:
In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a whole new level. According to statistics compiled for a book to be published this summer, the president has already set a record for total first-term fundraisers — 191 — and that’s only through March 6. Measured in terms of events that benefit his reelection bid, Obama’s total (inflated in part by relaxed fundraising rules) exceeds the combined total of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
It’s not just the gatherings officially categorized as campaign events. To a greater extent than his predecessors, Obama has used the trappings of his office to promote his reelection prospects even while handling taxpayer-funded business.
According to the same book, “The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign,” by Naval Academy political scientist Brendan Doherty, Obama was the first commander in chief in at least 32 years to visit all of the presidential battleground states during his first year in office. He has kept that pace, devoting nearly half of his travel to 15 swing states that account for just over a third of the population.
The election is still six months away, but it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish Obama’s political events and speeches from the official ones.
Outside the Beltway, maybe the victory lap isn’t such a winner after all. Osama – Obama…who could blame Team 6 if they mistook an “s” for a “b”?