On Sunday, January 27, 2013, the historic joint interview of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aired on CBS’s legendary show 60 Minutes, conducted by Steve Kroft. The Secretary of State and the President once again showed the entire world that their ability to work together was certainly not a fluke, as the two former political rivals now turned partners complimented each other so naturally that it almost seemed automatic.
Now overall, Kroft conducted a good interview with some decent questions, but when he told Obama and Clinton that their administration’s foreign policy cupboards are bare when it comes to a significant success in that field, one has to wonder which planet he was on and which cave has he been lost in for the past four years.
“This administration, I mean, you’ve generally gotten high marks. You’ve generally gotten very high marks, particularly from the voters for your handling of foreign policy. But there’s no big, singular achievement that—in the first four years—that you can put your names on. What do you think the biggest success has been, foreign policy success, of the first term?”
Was Kroft serious? Is his political memory that short? Obama answered Kroft’s critical question by focusing on the administration’s progress towards winding down the two wars, because ending something as monumentally draining as the Iraq War should not be treated like a minor accomplishment.
Although Obama talked about crippling the core leadership of Al Qaeda during his first four years–with the help of Secretary of State Clinton–the argument could have been made and should have been made that the signature foreign policy achievement was the killing of Osama bin Laden in a hostile, double-dealing country like Pakistan.
Compared to the trillion-dollar goose chase known as “the search for weapons of mass destruction” that was unleashed by the Bush 43 administration, it is arguable that the killing of Bin Laden should be viewed as the greatest foreign policy triumph since the Cold War talks between President Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The killing of the world’s top terrorist–who inflicted one of the deadliest attacks on American soil–has continually been treated like a fat husband taking out the garbage on a Monday night, whether it was Arianna Huffington marginalizing the bin Laden killing by calling the Obama administration “despicable” for politicizing it in an ad, or Mitt Romney when he said that “even Jimmy Carter would have given that order” (referring to taking the kill shot on bin Laden), or when President Bush 43 downplayed bin Laden’s continued existence during Bush’s time in office by saying:
“Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. I don’t know where he is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you,”
There is no way that Kroft doesn’t understand the importance of the bin Laden killing and, given that, he should have asked a question about it in relation to foreign policy accomplishments. Certainly either Obama or Clinton should have brought it up.
Steve Kroft is either a moron or pretending to be “neutral” because it is most unlikely he would have conducted the same interview with George W. Bush alongside Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice. No way he would have said their administration had no “big, singular” foreign policy achievement if they had been the ones who oversaw the bin Laden killing, and the same could be said for the minimizing statements of Arianna Huffington and Mitt Romney. People would have been carrying Bush 43 off of the political field on their shoulders, cheering like he’d won the Super Bowl single-handedly.
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton deserve the credit for the bin Laden killing, just as any other administration would have gotten and would still be getting, because of the strategical riskiness and enormous uncertainty involved with successfully getting from point A in Afghanistan over to Point B in the treacherous region of Pakistan that is the signature foreign policy coup for the Obama administration. It’s hard to believe that a seasoned, award-winning journalist like Kroft honestly fails to comprehend that point!
After all, if the slaying of bin Laden is truly as inconsequential as so many of these naysayers have suggested, then, instead of risking their lives to take out bin Laden, maybe the Navy SEALs should have just gone over, shaken his hand, and offered him the keys to another airplane, so Steve Kroft could have booked himself a first-class seat!