Losing control of the narrative: The headlines on morning three of the post-Osama era are not good for the White House. NYT: “Account Tells of One-Sided Battle in Bin Laden Raid.” WaPo: “White House goes silent on bin Laden raid.” LAT: “Trail to Bin Laden began with CIA detainee, officials say.”WaPo: “In bin Laden victory, echoes of the Bush years.”
The problem for the White House is that they have no credible explanation for why Obama’s policies deserve any credit for Osama’s capture. Politico reports: “White House officials have … repeatedly made it clear that Obama’s breaks with his predecessor — his refusal to describe the fight as a “war on terror” and his opposition to waterboarding — contributed to the successful hunt for bin Laden.” Huh? Bush ended waterboarding years before Obama even declared he was running for President. And what part of Osama’s capture had anything to do with how Obama chose to describe the fight against al Qaeda? No wonder Obama’s Osama-bounce has been mixed and limited at best.
Ground zero gambit: The Huffington Post reports that the White House is frustrated that “the news over the killing of Osama bin Laden has turned into a debate over the efficacy of harsh interrogation techniques and torture.” Obama’s visit to Ground Zero today is an obvious effort to hit the reset button on the post-Osama message, refocusing the conversation back onto the “unity” line that the White House first tried to peddle on Sunday on Monday.
But former President Bush has stepped on that message by declining Obama’s invitation to appear in New York today. And why should he attend? As RedState‘s Moe Lane notes, “perhaps Bush didn’t feel like being insulted to his face by President Obama, in much the same way that Obama went after Rep. Paul Ryan and the US Supreme Court in venues where they had to sit there and take the hits.” If Obama’s “unity” message falls flat, he only has his own arrogant and reflexive partisanship to blame.
Preseason begins: Neither the Associated Press nor Reuters will be covering tonight’s Fox News debate in South Carolina, citing Fox and GOP rules forbidding photos during the event. The event was already set to be a low-key affair with Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty the only big name candidate set to attend. The forum will still provide a preview of how Pawlenty can perform in debates and what his message will be.
Daniels: Politico’s Jonathan Martin headlines his write up of yesterday’s Mitch Daniels speech at AEI as “Mitch Daniels campaign only lacks candidate.” And inside the Beltway that definitely rings true. Daniels is very popular among conservative elites. Outside the beltway, however, Daniels message is not resonating with conservative activists.
Conservatives are still fuming over Daniels admission on Monday that he is not ready to debate Obama on foreign policy. Hot Air‘s Allahpundit writes: “If Daniels is the nominee and Iran does something nutty next September, how does he explain away saying that he wasn’t ready to debate Obama on foreign policy a little more than a year earlier? This is the sort of thing that, had Palin said it, would be cited by the George Wills of the world as proof of her alleged “intellectual incuriosity” and as evidence that she should never, ever be nominated.”
Rush Limbaugh was not impressed with Daniels tone either. Ryan Streeter reports: “Limbaugh mocked the notion that a conservative should be praised for not being combative and asked his Long Island, NY, caller what he thought of the idea. The caller said it made him think Daniels was a wimp. And then Rush got whipped up and riffed on how our founding fathers were combative enough to go to war, etc. etc.”