John Bolton picks the wrong fight

As a matter of policy and politics, John Bolton isn’t making any sense. (thanks to reader V.S. for the tip)

Speaking before a crowd of veterans in Hilton Head, SC at a campaign event for Mitt Romney, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton dismissed the notion that President Barack Obama deserves any credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden:

“The irony is [Obama] is campaigning on the basis that he is a success as a foreign policy president. This is amazing. Navy Seal Team Six killed Osama bin Laden. That is his definition of success. In 1969, when Americans landed on the moon, it is like Richard Nixon taking credit for that. It happened to occur during his presidency.”

For anyone with even the slightest understanding of the relevant events, this is gibberish. President Obama, in his role as Commander in Chief, took an enormous risk and ordered the strike. The responsibility for weighing the evidence and the dangers was his alone, and it was up to the president to make the call. Bolton would have us believe Obama was merely a bystander to events, which is plainly untrue. Indeed, if the mission had gone poorly, it’s the president who would have received the blame.

But it didn’t go poorly; it was a national security triumph for the administration and the president who gave the order.

OK, so Bolton was simply wrong on the policy. But what about the politics? This is nearly as dumb a mistake.

Of all the issues Republican campaigns want to talk about, the U.S. mission that killed bin Laden should be near the bottom. It’s really not complicated: there’s no GOP upside for reminding Americans about one of President Obama’s most notable successes.

Indeed, Bolton was speaking as a prominent Mitt Romney supporter, which makes this even worse — Romney wouldn’t have ordered the same strike that killed the al Qaeda leader. We know this because he’s said so.

During Romney’s first presidential campaign, he took an entirely passive attitude towards the al Qaeda leader, saying “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth” to get the terrorist responsible for 9/11. Around the same time, Romney said he would not order a strike into Pakistan to get bin Laden, rejecting Obama’s willingness “to enter an ally of ours” to target the terrorist leader.

For Romney and his surrogates to even pick this fight, only offers Dems to promote videos like this one, showing just how “courageous” and “gutsy” Obama’s decision really was.

Maybe Dems will get lucky, and the Romney camp will keep John Bolton up front and center for the rest of the campaign?