Commentary Magazine


Topic: Veterans for a Strong America

SEALs to Attack Obama’s Football Spiking?

The group is called Veterans for a Strong America, and they’ve already released one ad blasting President Obama’s handling of the bin Laden death anniversary. BuzzFeed reports there’s more on the way:

In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for “spiking the football” on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.

“We’re looking to [put together] a coalition, to field SEALs and operators that want to come out publicly,” executive director of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel Arends, tells BuzzFeed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with former SEALs and current SEALs. I’ve been talking to operators in the community. There is palatable discontent.”

Arends, a 35-year old Iraq war veteran who has spent the last six years in conservative activist circles, started the group last fall during the Republican primaries.

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The group is called Veterans for a Strong America, and they’ve already released one ad blasting President Obama’s handling of the bin Laden death anniversary. BuzzFeed reports there’s more on the way:

In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for “spiking the football” on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.

“We’re looking to [put together] a coalition, to field SEALs and operators that want to come out publicly,” executive director of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel Arends, tells BuzzFeed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with former SEALs and current SEALs. I’ve been talking to operators in the community. There is palatable discontent.”

Arends, a 35-year old Iraq war veteran who has spent the last six years in conservative activist circles, started the group last fall during the Republican primaries.

The campaign is already being compared to the ‘04 Swift Boat Veterans. And while this is probably the most effective tactic to take against the White House on the bin Laden issue, Allahpundit raises some concerns:

Turning the bin Laden raid into a story about Obama’s ego would break one of the biggest arrows in his electoral quiver. And needless to say, the optics of SEALs criticizing O for making the OBL raid all about him are … not so good for the White House. Are they worse, though, than Obama having to defend eight-plus percent unemployment? He’d much rather have an argument with conservatives over the OBL raid than the economy since every minute spent talking about Bin Laden is (a) a reminder that O did in fact give the order to liquidate the bastard, however shoddy his behavior might have been afterward, and (b) a minute not spent talking about the thoroughgoing crappiness of, oh, pretty much every other part of his record.

And that’s if the Veterans for a Strong America campaign is actually successful at turning the story into one about Obama’s ego. There’s also a chance it could backfire. Yes, Obama is politicizing the bin Laden raid to death (which is the crux of the VSA criticism), but what will SEALs think of a campaign bashing Obama for this on their behalf? If many of them found Obama’s football-spiking tasteless, quite a few would probably object to a campaign like this as well.

And the Obama campaign will not be blindsided by this line of attack, nor will they go down without a fight. They’re not about to relive the perceived failures of the 2004 campaign.

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