Trying Too Hard

I understand that reporters want to hold the Obama campaign accountable for its rhetoric and tactics, but there’s a point where that goes from sensible to absurd. In the latter column is a “gotcha” from ABC News:

The Obama campaign opened up a new line of attack on Mitt Romney Friday, suggesting that as commander-in-chief Romney might not have made the same decision to order an attack by U.S. forces to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden that President Obama did.

In a new web video titled “One Chance,” the Obama team features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for deciding to launch the strike last year. “Why path would Mitt Romney have taken?” the clip asks.

But four years ago this April, the Obama campaign criticized Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using Osama bin Laden in a political ad.

On the eve of the 2008 Pennsylvania primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television commercial featuring an image of bin Laden and invoking President Harry S. Truman’s quote: “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”

As Benjy Sarlin jokingly noted on Twitter, “there’s a subtle difference between fearmongering Bin Laden as a scary ghost, and you know, pointing out ya killed him.” There’s nothing illegitimate about campaigning on foreign policy successes, especially when it’s something as significant as the death of Osama bin Laden. And in a campaign where the Republican nominee accuses Obama of “apologizing for America”—I can see why the campaign would want to highlight the extent to which Obama has had an aggressive foreign policy presence, disagre or otherwise.