Monday, May 2, 2011

Limbaugh has the blues over Bin Laden's demise on Obama's watch

I awoke this morning to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed during a raid by U.S. forces on his compound in Pakistan. I’m sure it came as a complete surprise to most people, for whom Bin Laden had become somewhat of a bit player on the overall world stage. Nevertheless, the idea that Public Enemy Number One received his just deserts after years of thumbing his nose at U.S. efforts to apprehend him seems to be the only “logical” conclusion to this saga (a pacifist like commentator Mike Malloy might call this "murder," but I doubt the number of Americans who share that sentiment can be described as significant). If Bin Laden had surrendered and allowed himself to be taken alive, he would have had a forum to cause more mischief, inflaming the passions of his followers through impromptu propaganda speeches in court, and becoming even more dangerous as a living “martyr” while spending the rest of his days in prison. But given his own statements, he had no intention of being taken alive by the Americans, no doubt hoping that his place in "paradise" was secured by his crimes.

I was curious about how right-wing radio would deal with this success occurring during the Obama administration. I first tuned to a black-oriented radio station, where I listened to one caller say that this was one thing that the anti-Obama media could not take away from him—that history would record that Bin Laden’s end had come under Obama’s watch. I wanted to know what Rush Limbaugh had to say about that, but first I had suffer Glenn Beck and his radio show for a little while; he seemed to be in a somber mood, just happy that Bin Laden was dead. He did mention that he was unhappy about the jokes about him and his Fox News cohorts at the Correspondents Dinner, complaining about how everyone tells lies about them; actually, the “enemy” does nothing more than use their own quotes against them. What the Fox News contingent is really concerned about is that their commentary has been recorded for posterity, for the perusal of future historians examining the reasons why during a certain period of U.S. history, fringe-right media commentary contributed to an atmosphere where civil discourse could not prosper. Having a few more minutes to burn, I turned to KOMO, just in time to hear an elderly white woman on the street tell a reporter “Yea for OUR troops” when ask her opinion on the Bin Laden news. Her scornful tone made it clear that she was unwilling to give Obama any credit in the action. Something told me that this opinion was not an isolated one.

So what did Limbaugh have to say? Now, I did read with some amusement a brief Los Angeles Times piece that quoted Limbaugh saying that Obama was the "only" person in the room "qualified" to carry out the mission, in fact doing it all "singlehandedly." He ended his initial comments by declaring "Thank God for President Obama." Limbaugh's tone suggested, however, that he was being "ironic." The person who recorded the initial comments in the Times did a disservice to readers by not waiting to listen to Limbaugh's comments after the first break. I suspect Limbaugh made these initial comments right off the top because he knew the "lefties" were listening in, and once they got this "non-partisan" soundbite, they'd turn away. In allowing itself to be suckered-in by Limbaugh's jesting (which Limbaugh himself found amusing), CNN once more proved that in the reporting of hard news, it lacks credibility.

After the break, Limbaugh lifted his veil and told us what he really thought. One of the first things out of his mouth was that he was glad that “Obama—I’m sorry, Osama—is dead.” Limbaugh gave Obama “credit” only for “continuing the Bush-Cheney policies,” keeping the “team” that was allegedly already in place ready to take-out Bin Laden, and allowing Gitmo to remain open for business because of all the “valuable” information we were getting out of the detainees. Otherwise, Obama and his national security advisors contributed nothing of import. Limbaugh derided what he claims he heard in Obama’s announcement of Bin Laden’s demise that he did it all singlehandedly, as if anyone else was stupid enough to interpret Obama’s comments in that way; Limbaugh even claimed to have counted the number of times Obama used the words “I” and “me.” The man’s hatred of Obama cannot be over-stated. Is Limbaugh a racist? He once answered his own question if the opinions of the 13 percent of the population that is black matter in forming domestic policy: No,they don’t matter.

First of all, Afghanistan and Bin Laden ceased to be a Bush administration priority once the Iraq war began (which Bush declared as “won” a few months after it started). There were many theorists who though that Bin Laden was already dead as early as the initial attack on Tora Bora, and as the years passed, Bush insisted that the capture of Bin Laden was not a vital U.S. concern. Bush also continued to engage his “friends” in Pakistan, even though they failed to stop Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives from escaping unmolested into its territory. It is rather telling of the Bush administration’s failure to accurately judge a regime that apparently not only knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, but protected him, likely in exchange for keeping al-Qaida fighters from conducting attacks inside Pakistan. Obama stopped the failed policy of treating Pakistan as if they were our “allies” in fact (if not publicly), as the CIA was allowed to largely ignore Pakistani complaints about their operations inside the country; Obama rightly did not inform the Pakistanis of the operation before it occurred, due to fears that our “friends” would warn Bin Laden of his peril.

There was also no “quick strike” team set-up by the Bush administration sitting in Afghanistan for years waiting for an order to take-out Bin Laden; the Bush administration seemed satisfied with bombing his alleged hideouts, and then withdrawing resources and troops from the region. Although the CIA continued to operate in the area, their ability to maximize use of intelligence was hampered by the dilatory attitude of the Bush administration toward Afghan operations; it was only after the Obama administration committed resources into Afghanistan that it became possible to conduct the intelligence operations necessary to lead to success in locating Bin Laden. Limbaugh also over-estimated the value of the intelligence received from Gitmo detainees; it was no “revelation” that Bin Laden was employing couriers to send messages back-and-forth (information gleaned from waterboarding, according to Limbaugh). Is our intelligence services that bad not to have realized this all by themselves, since this was the logical modus operandi of someone in hiding trying to maintain communications secrecy? If in fact the identities of some of Bin Laden’s couriers was gleaned from the information provided by detainees, there couldn’t be any assurance that the information was current; it was fortunate that at least one of the couriers was still a trusted Bin Laden confidant. Nevertheless, it is still telling that it wasn’t until the Obama took office that this information was taken seriously to commit the resources to confirm it, and take advantage of it.

Obama does, furthermore, deserve all due credit for the success of the operation. He is, after all, the Commander-in-Chief who ultimately had to approve of the details of the operations, and make the decision to back the riskier, but more certain, attack plan; some of us still remember the ghosts of the disastrous operation to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. Again, give the president the credit he deserves for carrying out his responsibilities with care and fortitude. Limbaugh? He is just a bigoted, outrageously overpaid fat man with an opinion that he can stuff. And finally—and more despicably—while elsewhere the media is referring to “Bin Laden,” Limbaugh only refers to “Osama.” He does this for a reason: It gives him an opportunity to repeatedly suffer “slips of the tongue” by referring to Obama before “correcting” himself to say he meant “Osama.” Yes, it is his own pathetic attempt to portray Obama as a “terrorist” himself and an enemy of America.

There was a time, a long time ago, that Limbaugh actually was “witty.” Those days are long gone. Today, he is just a man consumed with irrational hate (especially of the racial variety) and an inflated sense of self as bloated as his girth.

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