Sunday, May 08, 2011

Obama's Seven Days in May

In a 1964 movie, a U.S. President has to overcome a plot by the Joint Chiefs to depose him for being too weak a leader to keep the nation secure. Titled "Seven Days in May," it was a cautionary tale about maintaining civilian control of America's might.

This May, in real life, Barack Obama and his military-intelligence apparatus worked together seamlessly to track down and kill Osama bin Laden and, in the President's retelling of these seven days on 60 Minutes, for a triumph of textbook leadership as it is supposed to function, very much like JFK's approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The boggled mind tries to imagine John McCain in the Oval Office with his quick-on-the-trigger temperament as opposed to the months of information-gathering, planning and what-if gaming that preceded last Sunday's attack. The even more boggled mind fantasizes about any of the Republican 2012 intellectual dwarves in control.

No less critical is what happens now after the deed has been done.

"We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," the President says. "But we don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate."

That next stage will require the same kind of leadership and judgment in dealing with a nuclear-armed, unreliable Pakistan. The answers won't come from any old movie but the qualities of the Commander-in-Chief in today's White House.

Hold the popcorn.

Update: Politically the week has brought the President an uptick in approval from 46 to 51 percent and "solidified his credentials as commander in chief in a way that eluded his most recent Democratic predecessors and has undercut broader attacks on his leadership before 2012." Doing the right thing sometimes actually works politically. Who knew?

1 comment:

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

In my undersea community, there is a controversy raging about whether it was best to kill bin Laden or capture him for trial. I have not participated in these discussions - seeing merit in both sides of the argument and a reflection of my own ambivalence. Given a choice between performing seals versus kangaroos holding court, perhaps this is the final irony fit for our times: Carp got the last of bin Laden.