Wednesday, May 11, 2011

About that Obama’s ‘yea or nay’ raid decision

Express Staff Writer

Being a billionaire who inherited his job and wealth doesn't protect David Koch from making stupefying public statements. Think Donald Trump.

At a charity ball in New York City, Koch shrugged off President Obama's role in the Osama bin Laden hideout raid as inconsequential. "All that Obama did was say 'yea' or 'nay.' I don't think he contributed much at all."

Koch, whose father, Fred, founded Koch Industries in the 1920s—years before David and his brother Charles were born—was belittling Obama as an inconvenient interruption in the Koch dream of a Far Right presidency. Koch's funding of the Tea Party in search of a candidate says a lot.

However, Koch is partially correct about Obama's "yea or nay" decision. Obama indeed gave a simple go-ahead, now described even by Republicans as "gutsy," only after spending eight months poring over details of the operation's planning.

A final "yea or nay" or equivalent is the stuff of presidential history.

Imagine Abraham Lincoln's "yea" or "nay" choices in conduct of the Civil War and his determination to end slavery.

Franklin Roosevelt carried the crushing burden of rescuing the nation from economic collapse in the 1930s, plus the decision to build the atomic bomb and to authorize World War II's D-Day invasion.

Dropping the atomic bomb and sending troops into war in Korea, then firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur, were on Harry Truman's slate of tough "yea" or "nay" decisions.

Approving U-2 spy flights over the Soviet Union bore grave consequences for President Eisenhower, as did his gutsy decision to send troops to forcibly integrate Little Rock High. Ditto for John Kennedy's use of troops in Alabama school integration and his unpopular decision to cancel naval support of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Lyndon Johnson's disastrous "yea" decisions to expand the war in Vietnam and to restrict bombing targets unquestionably were not flip or casual in the making.

What of Richard Nixon's decision to visit China and reopen those doors?

One must wonder the agony Gerald Ford endured before announcing his decision to pardon Nixon for Watergate crimes.

Jimmy Carter's go-ahead for the Desert One rescue of American hostages in Iran—a mission that failed miserably and was studied exhaustively by the bin Laden raiders—was his presidency's toughest.

George H. W. Bush struggled before deciding to send troops into Kuwait in Gulf War I. Ditto for son Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

Ironically, Koch overlooks the most historic "yea" of our times—Osama bin Laden's go-ahead to wipe out the New York's World Trade Center towers.

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