|Official White House photo by Pete Souza.|
It’s odd, you know, when I first read in the NY Times of President Obama’s personal culpability in selecting targets for death by drone, I was stunned. I believed this would effectively end Obama’s hopes for a second term. Americans simply would not stand for this.
After all, Obama was originally elected on the basis of his anti-war speech as an Illinois state representative. Recall also that shortly after his inauguration, he received a Nobel peace prize for his lofty vision. We had a right, I thought, to expect this man to lead the nation toward a more ethical and just role in the world.
So then I began to read accusations from Republicans that the Administration intentionally leaked the story to the Times to bolster Obama’s image as a tough, macho leader who had no qualms about dealing death to alleged enemies and any noncombatants who happened to be within range of his drone-fired missiles.
Could this be true?
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes:
What is remarkable about the recent leaks is the coincidence -- it can only be that -- that they all made the president look good, heroic, decisive, strong, and even a touch cruel -- born, as the birthers long suspected, not in Hawaii but possibly on the lost planet Krypton. The leak that displayed all these Obamian attributes was the one that said the president personally approves the assassinations of terrorists abroad. He gives his OK and the bad guys are dispatched via missiles from drones.
The leak that troubles me concerns the killing of suspected or actual terrorists. The triumphalist tone of the leaks -- the Tarzan-like chest-beating of various leakers -- not only is in poor taste but shreds a long-standing convention that, in these matters, the president has deniability. The president of the United States is not The Godfather.