04 May 2011

Spike At Ground Zero?

During his two and a half years in the White House, President Obama has visited New York City numerous times.  Mr. Obama made speeches at the U.N., attended political fundraisers and even visited Broadway for a date night with First Lady Michelle Obama. But until this Thursday, President Obama never deigned to visit Ground Zero, the place where the World Trade Center Twin Towers stood before being destroyed in a terrorist attack on 9/11.

Now that the long arm of American justice has been administered on Usama bin Laden, courtesy of American intelligence and the Pentagon, President Obama has hastily scrambled to arrange a visit to Ground Zero.  Clearly, this is intended to be an exclamation point on the fact that UBL, the mastermind of 9/11, has been vanquished.

Arguably, a ceremony marking the momentous moment in the War on Terror at the  footprint of the Twin Towers. But there is a cognitive dissonance between the assertion from the White House that there is no need to triumphantly “spike the football” at UBL’s demise and the insistence at having a Ground Zero event now.

Since President Obama announced that a Special Forces team, at his direction, conducted an operation that lead to the death of UBL, there has been a tawdry feeling of using this victory in the War on Terror as a political tool.  When awarding a Medal of Honor two days after the UBL operation, President Obama asserted that there is nothing that America can not accomplish when we all work together in a spirit of patriotism. Some might consider such rhetoric as political pap. Perhaps.  It certainly does echo the “Together We Thrive” t-shirts distributed at the University of Arizona rally for victims of the Tuscon shootings in January 2011.

The President urging lawmakers work together in a spirit of patriotic unity to get things done implies that there is a clear path and no reasonable recourse for dissent.  That seems less like leadership in a democratic Republic and either more like a ukase or an end around.

This spirit of politicking seems to permeate President Obama’s rushed Ground Zero visit.  President Obama will be meeting with a select group of 9/11 victim families. Certainly, this hand picked representation will not include people like Deborah Burlingame, who might oppose the President’s general conduct on the War on Terror.  Look for the likes of the Jersey Girls, who politically favor the President.  Fortunately, the White House has indicated that there will not be photographs or video allowed for the meetings.  But undoubtedly they will be in the background as President Obama makes his remarks.

 Former President George W. Bush was invited to participate in President Obama’s Ground Zero pep rally. But the 43rd President declined to attend as he wants to remain out of the spotlight, although he will likely go to the 10th anniversary memorial.  Remarkably, former President Bill Clinton, who loves the limelight, also can not attend, but he cited a scheduling conflict.  As a cynical political analyst, it seems to me to be too transparent of a connection between the triumphant visit to Ground Zero and 2012 campaigning.

As a wartime leader, President George W. Bush spent extended periods with grieving victims families and he was careful never to publicize these emotional visits.  As for Barack Obama’s demeanor, one only need to recall how he left his roses of remembrance the last time he visited Ground Zero.

Even though the White House used a football allusion about spiking the ball, it might be more applicable to use a hoops analogy.  POTUS needs to be cautious about being caught charging too many times. Such aggressive court tactics may open up the lane but it can also result in fouling out.

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