Should Richard Nixon Have Taken Credit for the Moon Landing?

Written on:May 3, 2012
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Should Richard Nixon Have Taken Credit for the Moon Landing?

Good question. This wouldn’t have been any more fatuous than The One’s attempt to take credit for, and base his campaign on, the bin Laden raid. The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto makes the analogy:

Imagine if President Nixon had decided to base his 1972 re-election campaign on the boast that he landed on the moon. His predecessors tried and failed for eight years. It wasn’t an easy decision–what if something went wrong? But that’s why you hire a president, to make those gutsy calls. Which path would George McGovern have taken?

That’s analogous to President Obama’s effort to campaign on the killing of Osama bin Laden. His absurd braggadocio is turning one of the few successes to occur under his leadership into a political liability.

Last week the Obama campaign released an advertisement featuring Bill Clinton (the president who actually did pass up opportunities to get bin Laden) praising Obama’s leadership and suggesting that Mitt Romney would have let bin Laden go. Nonsense, Romney replied: “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” the New York Times quotes him as saying. (James Fallows, who worked in the Carter White House, grudgingly confirms Romney’s surmise.)


In a Washington Post op-ed, Jose Rodriguez, a CIA veteran and author of the new book “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives,” concedes that Obama “deserves credit for making the right choice.”

But he notes that like the moon landing, the killing of bin Laden was merely the culmination of an effort that predated the incumbent’s arrival in the White House by years: “[Obama's] administration never would have had the opportunity to do the right thing had it not been for some extraordinary work during the George W. Bush administration.” Rodriguez notes further that “much of that work has been denigrated by Obama as unproductive and contrary to American principles.”


Even John McCain is criticizing Obama, the Hill reports:

“I say any president, Jimmy Carter, anybody, any president would have, obviously, under those circumstances, done the same thing. And to now take credit for something that any president would do is indicative of [the kind of] campaign we’re under–we’re–we’re seeing. . . . So all I can say is that this is going to be a very rough campaign,” McCain told Fox News in an interview set to air Monday night. “And I’ve had the great honor of serving in the company of heroes. And, you know the thing about heroes, they don’t brag.” . . .

Last week, McCain issues [sic] a statement denouncing an Obama campaign commercial heralding Bin Laden’s death as “the height of hypocrisy” and accused the president of “a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected.”

“Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad,” McCain said.

Which leads us to ponder an interesting counterfactual: What if McCain had campaigned against Obama in 2008?

As bad as Nixon was, even he had some standards.  Unfortunately, our current President does not.  Of course it should be noted that the media would not have allowed Nixon to get away with a stunt like this even had he wanted to.  Obama, on the other hand, can do no wrong in the eyes of the 4th estate. Indeed they’re even praising him for doing it.  What a difference a Party makes. Read Taranto’s entire piece here.

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