Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vanity thy name is politics

For three-quarters of my life I’ve worked in and around egos – from theatre and movies to entrepreneurs.  My own roles (professionally and volunteer) inevitably are rooted in my own sense of self-worth as with the work itself.  It’s true for all of us.  One doesn’t need to be a Freudian scholar to realize the role that ego plays in our lives.  There is a particular manifestation of the ego in politicians, however, that sets their vanity on a whole different plain.
This week Vanity Fair released its November edition with an exclusive article claiming that President Obama considered putting Osama bin Laden on trial if he had been taken alive.  The sources?  Top national-security officials and the President himself.  This claim is a whopper and proves that the id, ego and super-ego are on full display in the 2012 Presidential campaign.
On May 1, 2011 Navy SEALS raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.  The President has been unapologetic about the action, in fact has touted the action as proof of his foreign policy expertise.  The White House then leaked that President Obama maintains a kill list.  CIA Director Leon Panette stated on PBS NewsHour: "The authority here was to kill bin Laden.”
"No Easy Day" was released a few weeks ago and was written by a SEAL who was part of the mission.  The book details that bin Laden didn’t represent any threat, was unarmed and was just killed.  It was an assassination pure and simple.
The action is one of the most popular things Obama has done – with 93% of the country supporting the killing.  I have been a vocal part of the 7%, criticizing the President’s actions as being inconsistent with American ideals and a tradition of law.  The voices of dissent have been small and infrequent.  Until this article in Vanity Fair at least President Obama was unapologetic about his philosophy and his action, however inconsistent I might think it is with the Rule of Law.  The October surprise is that integrity is now gone.
If President Obama wanted to take bin Laden alive he could have.  The Navy SEALS are a highly skilled and highly trained cadre of professionals.  All reports concur that bin Laden was unarmed.  This sudden suggestion – in total contradiction to numerous statements by the White House, the Defense Department and the soldiers themselves – can only be the work of a politician wanting it all ways.  He wants to get credit for thinking of putting bin Laden on trial while reaping the benefits of exerting military muscle in murdering the man.  The sniping, lying and name calling of Campaign 2012 was bad enough.  Now political vanity rears its ugly head and the result is more cynicism, which I didn’t think was possible.

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