Obama Starts To Emerge
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
One of the encouraging aspects of the events of the past few days is the emergence of a new and more confident President Obama. This wasn’t always the prospect in the first two years of his presidency, in which he seemed indecisive and reluctant. When he did move, as in Libya, it struck us that he did so impulsively, without adequate vetting in Congress. Eighteen months ago we wrote in these columns that he hadn’t yet emerged. But we acknowledged a certain element to Mr. Obama’s personality evinced in, say, the daring and elan of his presidential campaign. “We wouldn’t,” we wrote then, “rule out entirely the idea that President Obama could emerge not only as the de jure and de facto commander in chief but also as a true war leader in the classical sense of the term.”
This, we would like to think and certainly to hope, is what we are seeing in the wake of the triumph at Abbottabad. Mr. Obama is starting to emerge as the kind of war leader we had in mind — cool under fire, able to keep a poker face while golfing and entertaining the press between high stakes briefings in the situation room, and sagacious in battle, as he surely was with his decision to send in the SEALs into the lair of Osama Bin Laden. His capacity for secrecy and unilateralism speaks well of him, and it happens that we agree also with his decision to dispose of bin Laden’s corpse at sea. And not to worry about it afterwards.
The president’s leaderly qualities here are being thrown into ever sharper relief with each round of carping and handwringing, either from some elements in the press, or the some of the Republicans, or the far left. By our lights the performance of our uniformed and covert services in Abbottabad and the civilian leaders directing their efforts were as close to flawless as one gets in a war, and even if there were things that might have been better to have done differently, we wouldn’t waste time worrying about them. We haven’t seen a lot of combat, but we’ve seen enough to leave us proud and grateful at the whole performance.
We still have all our policy differences with Mr. Obama — on the economy, monetary and fiscal matters, on social issues, and in the realm of culture. But our own hope is that the events of these past few days will incent Mr. Obama in dealing with communist Korea and Iran and no doubt other places where diplomacy has failed. Even as NATO warplanes are flying Libya, we continue to favor sending a team to Libya to fetch Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi., and bring him to an American jail time serve his time for his role in the downing of Pan American Flight 103. It is our hope that the triumph we’ve saw in the last few days will as it humbles us all nonetheless embolden Mr. Obama as a war leader, with his own growing appreciation for the possibilities of military and covert means in a twilight struggle in which our cause is just. If that happens it could be more important than the death that was brought to bin Laden.