Now that we got Osama bin Laden, we need to do something about Obama bin Hussein!
(It’s cold and raining and shitty the way only spring in Alaska can be. I’m standing on the concrete apron in front of a huge old hanger with the roar of military jets echoing periodically off the towering doors. They say the screaming roar of jet fighters is the sound of freedom, but the Raptors are grounded today and these are cargo planes so the sound is more like the Delivery Trucks of Freedom instead. There’s cold water dripping down my back and every broken bone, sprain, and injury I’ve ever had is clamoring for attention in the damp chill – this tends to make me even more irritable than usual. I’m waiting for a guy. He’s late. While I wait, I’m stuck talking to a couple of maintenance types I shall henceforth refer to as Blowhard and Dude)
Me: Say what now? (Argh! Brain to mouth, what the hell are you doing? Are you mad? Don’t encourage him! Disengage! Disengage!)
Blowhard: The terrorist in the White House, Barry bin Hussein. (Ah. Yes. At this point a wise man would have faked a phone call and gone to sit in the car, or maybe thrown himself into one of the huge roaring turbines of a taxiing C-17. I am not a wise man. Alas)
Me: Ah, I see. Well at least you got his name correct. More or less. (Insert eye roll, derisive head shake, and mocking grimace).
Blowhard: Heh heh. Yeah that’s … wait, what? (He suddenly realizes that I’m mocking him and not agreeing with his assessment of the President)
Me: Bin, from the Persian root ibin, means “son of.” Barry bin Hussein therefore would be “Barack, son of Hussein.” (I tend to drop into lecture mode when confronted with booger eaters, mouth breathers, and people who haunt abandoned amusement parks. Sue me)
Blowhard: Whatever. More like “son of a bitch” if you ask me. (See, that’s just it, I didn’t ask (except, of course, I sort of did. Stupid mouth). I was looking to do a hanger survey and got sucked into this conversation. I wish I’d have gotten sucked into an airplane engine instead)
Dude: Well, at least they got bin Laden. (Unlike the pessimistic Blowhard, Dude is a glass half full kind of guy)
Blowhard: Yeah, and fucking Barry’s taking credit for it! (Hmmm, maybe instead of throwing myself into a turbine… Say is that Sarah Palin naked? Shove! It could work)
Me: Let me ask you a question, if the mission had gone all Jimmy Carter, you know crashed and burned in the desert with the SEALs dead instead of heroes, would that have been Obama’s fault?
Blowhard: Oh fu-uck. (He makes this kind of shuddery dismissive gesture. He reminds me of somebody, but I can’t quite put my finger on it)
Me: Come on, it’s not a trick question. If the mission failed and bin Laden had escaped, you would have blamed Obama. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t. Right? (It’s right on the tip of my tongue. I think it’s his little shitty goatee)
Blowhard: No. Maybe. Well, okay, but it is his responsibility! (Ah. I’ve got it. Blowhard sort of reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, only not as bright).
Dude: Exactly! (If Blowhard is Scooby, and if you squint your eyes in the pouring rain, Dude might be Daphne. Maybe I’ll get lucky and somebody will kidnap him)
Me: Yes. It is his responsibility as president. He could have ordered an airstrike. The Air Force could have nuked the place from orbit, or the Navy could have dropped a Tomahawk on it. Obama could have backed off, and asked the Pakistanis to do it. Bin Laden was hiding within their sovereign territory and by law that’s what the President should have done. Going in we violated a couple of treaties and our status of forces agreement. If the mission had gone bad, the team would have been caught red handed in clear violation of international law. If you win, well, nobody argues with success. If you screw the pooch, well, then we’ve committed an act of naked aggression within the borders of a foreign ally and we’ve got to ask pretty please for the bodies of our people and our classified equipment back. But the risk is much worse than that. See, the SEALs went into that compound on the orders of the President. An operation that big, there’d be absolutely no way to deny that the President was involved. If it goes bad it’s an act of war. On an ally.
Blowhard: Fuck ‘em. Fuck Pakistan. (honestly, I don’t know why Shaggy isn’t working high up in the State Department as a diplomat instead of wasting his international policy acumen as a low-level wrench turner in remote Alaska)
Me: You’re just not getting it. Obama, Instead of playing it safe, instead of taking the conservative approach, he chose the high risk mission – the one with the biggest payoff for the United States. We could have bombed the compound without risking a single American life – but we would have never known if we got bin Laden for certain. Then Al Qaeda could have claimed that bin Laden was still alive and we couldn’t have proven otherwise. They could have also said the house was nothing but a daycare center full of fat happy babies or kitten factory or some such. And dropping HE on a target has side effects. Remember, it was a residential neighborhood, we’d have probably killed a lot of innocents in the surrounding houses.
Dude: Yeah, but…
Me: If you finish that sentence with “…they’re just towel-heads” I’m going to toss you into a jet engine. We’re the good guys. Blowing people up in their sleep and not giving a fuck about killing innocents and non-combatants and women and kids is what people like bin Laden do. If you remember right, that’s exactly how this thing started. (I shouldn’t have to keep explaining this to Americans)
Blowhard: Okay. Fine. But it’s not like Obama was out there with the SEALs. The guy never even served.
Me: What’s that got to do with it? If the Founders thought that was important, they’d have put it in the Constitution. Look, you were in the Army, what? One tour? Long enough to know that the senior man is responsible. Period. Obama, as President, assumed the risk of command. He assumes the risk, it’s his responsibility. This isn’t just some bullshit idea, it’s the law as defined by the Constitution. As Commander in Chief, he decided how the mission would be carried out and he assumed the risk for it. He gets the blame if it goes wrong, but that also means he gets credit if it goes right.
Blowhard: Then Bush should get credit too. He did more to find bin Laden than Obama.
Dude: Yeah! (No, not Daphne, more like Scrappy-Doo or maybe Scooby-Dum)
Me: Seriously? Again, if the mission had failed, would you say that Bush shares the blame with Obama? Never mind, don’t hurt yourself thinking about it. Bush deserved credit the same way the previous coach of a Championship football team deserves credit for when the team wins the Super Bowl.
Blowhard: I don’t follow you. (This? Yes, this is my surprised Velma face)
Me: Look, if a coach spends eight years building a team, but never goes to the championships, then retires and you take over and two years later you take the team all the way to the Super Bowl, who gets credit? You might give the first guy a hat tip for leaving you a great team, but it was you who got them to the gold ring. It doesn’t matter how much the previous guy wanted it, or how much he cared. He never went all the way. You’re the coach, it’s your victory. Bush hasn’t been the coach for two years, this was Obama’s show. If you’re going to give Bush credit, why not give credit to the frogmen in WWII from which the SEALs originated? Or the UDTs in Vietnam? Or Kennedy for having the foresight to listen to Admiral Burke? (not that I’d actually expect either of these lugnuts to know who Arleigh Burke was)
Dude: I get what you’re saying, man. But they should give credit to the SEALs instead of Obama. (No. What “they” should do is make a law that lets you taze stupid people. Repeatedly. Right in the Mystery Machine. Just sayin’)
Me: Look, if you give credit to the coach of a winning team, does that take credit away from the quarterback?
Dude: No, I guess not. (This guy’s brain is like a spawned-out salmon, gray and wet and rotten around the edges. Bludgeon it enough and it finally stops flopping)
Me: Same thing. (Jesus Fucking Christ, where is the guy I’m waiting for? Did he get sucked into a jet engine? Scooby-Doo, where are you?)
Blowhard: Yeah. Whatever. We got him. It only took twenty years, it’s time for Barry to quit grandstanding. Gas is five dollars out in the Valley! (speaking of football, who just moved the goalposts? Zoinks! It’s weird old Mr Jenkins, the airport maintenance man!)
Dude: Exactly! It’s five dollars! When’s Oblamo going to do something about that? (And I’d have gotten away with it to, if it wasn’t for you rotten kids!)
Me: So, you guys are communists then?
Dude: (looks at me like I said “gay” instead of “communist”)
Blowhard: (looks at me like I just said “gay liberal vegetarian tree-hugging evolutionist who gives $5 hummers at the truck stop” instead of commie.”)
Me: Because, you know, that’s what it is when the government controls the price of stuff. Marxism. (Rut roe, Shaggy!)
Blowhard: The president can lower the price of gas if he wants to! He just doesn’t want to.
Me: Again, I don’t think you understand the concept of a free market. You’re saying that the president sets the price of commodities like gasoline? I’m pretty sure that’s not how capitalism works. (Seriously, do they not teach this stuff in school anymore? Do they spend all day watching cartoons?)
Dude: Yeah, but he can do stuff to force the oil companies to lower their prices! (Scoooby Scooby Doooo!)
Me: Stuff? What kind of stuff? (It’s cartoon magic! All the problems solved in thirty minutes minus time for commercials and a Scooby-Snack!)
Blowhard: Hey, there’s your guy coming through the gate.
Me: Nothing, it’s about time.
I was more of a Johnny Quest fan, love that science and logic stuff.
I never much cared for Scooby-Doo.
Now I remember why.