Bush the cowboy vs the Obama the egoist 

George W. Bush was a cowboy, and Barack Obama is more mature, right?

That's what Hollywood PR guy Howard Bragman said yesterday during an MSNBC segment with me (you can watch the relevant clip below). Here's Bragman on Obama post-Osama: "He wasn't boastful. As he said, he wasn't going to spike the football.... He's very different from what we've seen in the past. He's a non-cowboy."

Later in the segment I rejected the idea that Obama was not boastful. Here, for instance, are some excerpts from Obama's White House announcement about getting bin Laden:

shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al-Qaida...

I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

On Twitter, one MSNBC viewer was in disbelief that I said Bush wouldn't have been quite so boastful, pointing to his "Mission Accomplished" stunt. Now, I was as critical of "Mission Accomplished" as the next guy -- it was possibly the premature declaration of victory in the history of war. And the fighter jet landing and flight jacket were cowboyish.

But in his "Mission Accomplished" speech, as in most of what Bush did, there wasn't the self-aggrandizement we see in Obama. Read the speech. You won't find "I" or "me" in there. Lots of "you"s directed at the sailors. There's plenty to criticize about George W. Bush, but when it comes to egotism, it seems to me Obama's got him by a mile.

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Timothy P. Carney

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