This pirate crisis appears to be another one of those political Rorschach tests that shows how detached from reality some people can get when it comes to defending or attacking a politician. Over at the DKOS, there are multiple glowing diaries all but calling for a CMH for Obama:
And at the Washington Post, this diabetes inducing story:
An Early Military Victory for Obama
It was one of the earliest tests of the new American president — a small military operation off the coast of a Third World nation. But as President Bill Clinton found out in October 1993, even minor failures can have long-lasting consequences.
Clinton’s efforts to land a small contingent of troops in Haiti were rebuffed, for the world to see, by a few hundred gun-toting Haitians. As the USS Harlan County retreated, so did the president’s reputation.
For President Obama, last week’s confrontation with Somali pirates posed similar political risks to a young commander in chief who had yet to prove himself to his generals or his public.
But the result — a dramatic and successful rescue operation by U.S. Special Operations forces — left Obama with an early victory that could help build confidence in his ability to direct military actions abroad.
Folks, this was not the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Meanwhile, over at alt.fantasy.wingnut.redstate, they are doubling down with their alternate history of the event:
The Story of a Successful Rescue (and a Democratic Administration’s Attempt to Claim Credit)
After four days of floating at sea on a raft shared with four Somali gunmen, Richard Philips took matters into his own hands for a second time. With the small inflatable lifeboat in which he was being held captive being towed by the American missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, and Navy Special Warfare (NSWC) snipers on the fantail in position to take their shots at his captors as soon as the command was given, the captive Captain of the M.V. Maersk-Alabama took his second leap in three days into the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean.
This diversion gave the Navy Special Warfare operators all the opening they needed. Snipers immediately took down the three Somali pirates still on board the life raft, SEAL operators hustled down the tow line connecting the two craft to confirm the kills, and a Navy RIB plucked Philips from the water and sped him to safety aboard the Bainbridge, thus ending the four-day-and-counting hostage situation.
That was written last night, after everyone on the planet was aware that the initial reports about the Captain jumping a second time were inaccurate. From the Navy Times:
U.S. Navy snipers opened fire and killed three pirates holding an American captain at gunpoint, delivering the skipper unharmed and ending a five-day high-seas hostage drama on Easter Sunday.
Capt. Richard Phillips was in “imminent danger” of being killed before snipers shot the pirates in an operation authorized by President Barack Obama, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.
He said the pirates were armed with AK-47s and small-caliber pistols and were pointing the rifles at the captain when the commander of the nearby destroyer Bainbridge gave the order to open fire.
From the NY Times:
Two of the captors had poked their heads out of a rear hatch of the lifeboat, exposing themselves to clear shots, and the third could be seen through a window in the bow, pointing an automatic rifle at the captain, who was tied up inside the 18-foot lifeboat, senior Navy officials said.
It took only three remarkable shots — one each by snipers firing from a distance at dusk, using night-vision scopes, the officials said. Within minutes, rescuers slid down ropes from the Bainbridge, climbed aboard the lifeboat and found the three pirates dead. They then untied Captain Phillips, ending the contretemps at sea that had riveted much of the world’s attention. A fourth pirate had surrendered earlier.
It is pretty safe to say that Red State is doing what they do best, which is to “make shit up.”
Maybe I am alone, but I hardly view this as a test of the President. Unless I am mistaken, all he had to do was sign off on rules of engagement and stay out of the way, and I don’t mean that to denigrate Obama, but because that really is all any President could do. We have a massive Navy with several hundred ships, highly trained professionals in the SEALS, highly trained professionals in the FBI and in the crews of the naval vessels tailing (and in one case towing) the raft, and you just need to let them do their job. This didn’t happen because heroic efforts by Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod in consultation with Obama produced a dashing plan a la the The West Wing. This happened because our very entrenched military and national security apparatus can handle little things like this without flinching.
That isn’t to take anything away from what the guys on the scene did, as that appears to have been one helluva shot they took. They also deserve real credit for their prior restraint, and waiting until the right moment to make things happen. They really acted like, well, professionals. But heaping all sorts of praise on Team Obama seems to me to be just as silly as flaming them for this. They acted prudently and cautiously, as anyone who has watched the President for any period of time would have expected him to behave.