For more than a week we have watched the GOP trot out the line: “President Obama’s hyping of the killing of Osama bin Laden is ‘spiking the ball’. Both inappropriate and unseemly.” Really? Just to set the record straight.
Mr. George W. Bush showed us what that was all about in 5 easy steps.
1) Fly in Air Force One to California.
2) Leave Air Force One at an AFB, don a flight suit, get on a fighter jet.
3) Fly just 30 miles off shore, as a passenger, on that jet to the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier (nicknamed “The Liberator”), instead of taking your ready to use and in range helicopter, Marine One, or waiting for the carrier to dock. The ship, just returned from its mission in support of the Iraq War is a perfect setting to celebrate a victory especially if it is still under way “at sea”. Even better your jet is accompanied by three other escort jets so the flight deck fly-by is impressive.
4) Land on the deck, climb out of the cockpit in a flight suit carrying your helmet, and waving at the TV cameras and “your comrades in arms”. As you stroll across the flight deck packed with several thousand crew greet them warmly, shake hands and pose for lots of pictures. Eventually go to a ready cabin to change into business attire. (When the cameras move away the pilot of “your” jet climbs down and moves quickly below decks.”)
5) After changing clothes deliver a full-throated 35 minute victory speech saluting the ease with which our forces won the Iraq War as a HUGE, White House ordered banner waves in the background announcing: “Mission Accomplished.” The banner’s display motif is that of a U.S. flag. Begin your speech with these words: “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
NOW THAT’S SPIKING THE BALL…but as it turned out it was more like spiking the ball at your own 10 yard line with 90 yards still to go.
When Bush’s jet landed on the aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. That was over 4100 US fatalities and 17000 wounded ago. 100,000 Iraqis would be casualties in a war that had 9 years to go before the U.S. exited. It would cost the U.S. more than one trillion dollars in immediate expenses to prosecute the war and more than two trillion when the services to returning troops are added in and more than three trillion when we add in the cost of aid to Iraq and the cost of maintaining a presence in the country. What did we get? A further destabilized Middle East, an emerging Iran no longer balanced by a stable Iraq, a broken and exhausted army accompanied by a record number of soldier and veteran suicides, no oil bonus, and lots of disrespect from the world community.
Mr. Bush….“History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.”
Mr. Obama is not prone to overconfidence.