Adam Serwer nails it when he says that Barack Obama is arguably more hawkish on terror than George Bush if slightly less lawless, and this has the disloyal opposition -- the people from Dick Cheney on down who have relentlessly averred that the president is a weakling -- piddling all over their wingtips.
The buffoonery from the right that has followed the capture of the Taliban's top military commander in a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation is a case in point. It was obvious that the Bush administration, busy chasing after the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks in Iraq (cough, cough), had taken it's eye off the ball in Afghanistan. The Taliban were resurgent and relations between Washington and the Pakistani regime had become downright toxic.
The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is easily the most significant member of the Taliban cadre to be nabbed in the eight-year war, his capture a consequence of stepped up drone attacks on the Taliban leadership ordered by Obama that had forced Baradar and others to relocate to Karachi, which is many hundreds of miles from the action in southern Afghanistan. (The detention of two other Taliban leaders in Pakistan was announced today, as well as the arrest of several Al Qaeda operatives.)
But rather than congratulating the White House and CIA for a job well down, rightniks have snarked about whether killing insurgents in drone attacks is preferable to torturing them and whether Baradar will be read his Miranda rights like Umar Abdulmutallab, the Undie Bomber.
Then there was Cheney acknowledging on a Sunday talk show that he embraced waterboarding and other torture techniques, a "confession" that seems bizarre on its face were it not for the fact that the likelihood of Attorney General Holder bringing the former veep up on war criminal charges is zero to none.
The sour grapes over Abdulmutallab are especially squishy since the young Kenyan has been singing to investigators without having a finger laid on him.
The key here is that his family pressured him to talk on the condition that he would not be mistreated -- and he has not. The result has been a treasure trove of inside information on several other English-speaking recruits at the Al Qaeda training camp in Yemen where he graduated from.
"Ultimately it all amounts to superstition," Serwer notes of all the whinging. "Obama isn't saying the right words or performing the right rituals to make the bogeyman go away. The actual results of his policies are irrelevant, because he's not stepping over the cracks in the sidewalk or prancing around in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier. . . . At any rate, in the aftermath of Baradar's capture, it's clear that the only way al Qaeda or the Taliban is going to take Obama seriously is if he says 'terrorism' more often."
So now what are the people who kept accusing Obama of being weak going to do with all those smelly yellow stains on their wingtips?
Move the goalposts, of course.Top photograph by The Associated Press