Musadeq Sadeq, File, Associated Press
This May 3, 2011 file photo shows Afghan newspapers in Kabul, Afghanistan headlining the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The killing of Osama bin Laden, first presented as a moment of national unity by President Barack Obama, has become something else: a political weapon.
I'm responding to Blaine R. McCann's letter ("Obama, 'My Fair Lady,'" Reader's Forum, May 16) in which he compares Obama's taking credit for Osama bin Laden's killing to how Professor Higgins takes credit for Eliza Doolittle's performance at the ball in "My Fair Lady."Although his analogy made me chuckle, I disagree with his view.
In sports, a coach gets credit when a team wins and gets fired when it loses. Yet a coach doesn't actually play in any of the games. In business, a CEO gets credit when a company does well and gets fired when it does poorly. He or she receives credit even though most or all of the actual work is done by employees. And in politics, a standing president gets credit for anything good that happens, whether his policies affected it or not.
In like fashion, a president gets voted out when enough bad things happen on his watch. For people who are old enough to remember the incident, Jimmy Carter's unsuccessful attempt to free American hostages in Iran in April 1980 resulted in the deaths of eight American servicemen and the loss of two aircrafts. Carter took a major hit politically, and this incident was a contributing factor to his losing the 1980 presidential election.
Carter accepted the responsibility for sending the strike team and received the blame for the mission failing. President Obama faced a similarly difficult situation in sending a strike team to assassinate bin Laden. He made a difficult and risky decision, and unlike the Iranian hostage situation under Carter, this mission turned out well.
It was Obama's decision. He would have taken a major political blow had it failed. Because it succeeded, he should receive the credit. The president applauded the amazing work by the servicemen who executed the mission. He graciously shared the credit with those involved in the decision and those who carried out the mission.