This week, Republicans have been criticizing President Obama for his surprise trip to Afghanistan marking the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. By accusing the president of hyping the commemoration, they apparently hope to undercut the political potency of his biggest foreign policy coup. Instead, the GOP critics may merely make themselves look a bit silly.
They must think Americans are suffering from amnesia and cannot recall President George W. Bush and his "Top Gun" moment in 2003. Just in case anyone really has forgotten, allow me to recap: Bush tucked himself into a flight suit emblazoned with the words "commander-in-chief," climbed into a Lockheed S-3 Viking fixed-wing aircraft and helped fly and land it on the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln, just off the California coast. There, under a huge banner declaring "Mission Accomplished" (a banner White House officials initially denied, but finally admitted, was their creation), the president said, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
Though years premature in claiming victory, Bush and his team were clearly staging an event they thought would provide great images for future campaign ads. Bush's spectacle makes Obama's brief round of handshaking with troops in Afghanistan look pretty lame by comparison.