In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's death, many on the left have rushed to congratulate and extol President Barack Obama for this momentous act of justice.
Liberal pundit David Corn declared that Dick Cheney owes Obama an apology. He also noted that Cheney "and other conservatives who denigrated Obama's devotion to national security have lost a much-valued possession: the Obama-is-weak-on-defense card."
Writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cynthia Tucker boldly anointed Obama with the "walks softly (and) carries a big stick" slogan. Lamenting the attacks against Obama as being weak on national security, she noted that, "The death of Osama bin Laden, in a raid executed under Obama's explicit leadership, ought to quell that sort of foolish talk permanently."
After bin Laden's death, democratic consultant Bob Shrum pronounced the Obama presidency "renewed and transformed." He went on to assert triumphantly that, "On the eve of big decisions about the debt ceiling and the budget, the president has new strength and credibility - and his Republican opponents and 2012 rivals have a stature gap that was always real but is now apparent.
"The gap will only widen as the gripping insider story of the nine-month saga of the mission to get Osama is told and retold. Not since the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis has there been a story of leadership equal to this in drama and appeal. The best sellers are already on the way."
The anonymous left-wing blog posters were bolder still. A young New York entrepreneur even created "Obama got Osama" T-shirts, reportedly making $120,000 in two hours. It was as if Obama, channeling his inner "force," had fired a proton torpedo and single-handedly destroyed the Death Star, saving us all from the evil Empire. (If Dick Cheney is Darth Vader, I suppose Obama can be Luke Skywalker.)
We shouldn't be surprised. After all, remember, "Yes we can!" and "We are the ones we've been waiting for!" and "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."?
However, when one actually examines the facts behind the downfall of bin Laden, Obama does not come across quite so heroic. As John Yoo points out, "In the war on terror, it is easy to pull the trigger; it is hard to figure out where to aim."
It turns out that Obama didn't need "proton torpedoes." All he needed were the military and intelligence architecture laid down by the George W. Bush administration.
I'm talking about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, enhanced interrogations, wiretapping, the Navy SEALs who are part of the Joint Special Operations Command, and so on. In other words, as Michael Barone notes, "For years we heard supposedly enlightened people excoriate our leaders for torture, lawlessness, unilateralism - the list goes on and on. Now the president they have wanted has used the tactics and methods they excoriated to get bin Laden."
Oh, the irony. To get to what is almost certainly the high point of his presidency, Obama had to channel his inner George Bush - and liberals across the country are fawning all over him for it.
Remember Obama's promise to close Gitmo? Remember the change in the "War on Terror" semantics incorporated by Obama's national security team? The "Global War on Terror" became "Overseas Contingency Operation;" "enemy combatants" ceased to exist; and even the word "terrorist" was awkwardly avoided.
I mean, Obama's administration not only rejected Bush era policies, they didn't even want the same terminology. But now Obama is the greatest thing since Eisenhower.
Don't get me wrong. Obama deserves some credit for delivering the final blow in bringing Osama to justice.
However, when drawing conclusions on Obama's foreign policy and military strengths and successes, one must consider all of his actions and not an isolated success that was possible only because of the efforts of the previous administration.
Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist.