You read that headline correctly – and if you watched any news on CNN or MSNBC you know how things got reported.
I must preface this commentary by resurrecting an old joke that suggests that if President Trump walked on water, the press reports for the next day would be that he can’t swim. In the coverage of the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killing, we saw that joke played out in reality.
Of course, the initial reports were fairly straight forward. We got him. Baghdadi was dead … dead … dead. Much deserved praise was heaped on our finest military leaders and operatives – those special forces that take on the toughest and most dangerous jobs. These reports came before Trump was to address the nation.
He spoke for about 50 minutes – offering his high praise for our men and women in uniform. He noted that this was a particularly dangerous mission since it required flying over an active war zone, landing to attack the compound and flying out over hostile territory. Trump opined that this was an even more important achievement than taking down Osama Bin Laden.
Trump repeatedly complimented American intelligence agencies and officials for the outstanding work they did in making the raid possible.
While on the ground, our troops engaged in an exchange of gunfire, killed several terrorists, took two into custody even as they shepherded woman and children to safety. They pursued Baghdadi into a tunnel where he blew himself and three children up. Trump described Baghdadi’s approach to Hell as a man crying, whimpering and screaming.
Trump thanked nations that had supported the operation – especially Russia and Turkey because our aircraft had to fly over their airspace. He thanks the Kurds for their intelligence that led to pinpointing the movements and location of Baghdadi.
He explained that we would be leaving troops in Syria to defend the oil fields in the Kurdish region. The two purposes were to (1) keep the oil from being used by ISIS to finance its terrorism and (2) to use oil money to financially support the military needs of the Kurds.
The positive reporting did not last long. The hosts, reporters and the panelists of print newsies began to evolve their anti-Trump narratives based on distorted interpretations or created out of whole cloth.
Here are a few samples.
Trump provided too much intelligence detail – risking the security of future operations. In fact, Trump had declined to answer some questions based on intelligence security. Those raising the issue gave no examples – and no leader of our military or intelligence services expressed any such concern. Ironically, the media maintained constant inquiry to gain more details of the operation – details that would compromise our intelligence operations.
Trump said that he did not inform members of Congress because of the culture of leaks that has reached nuclear proportions in recent years. For sure, this was a change from past protocols. Under the War Powers Act, presidents have ordered military actions without informing Congress. It is always controversial, but not unheard of. Consider the high risk to this action, keeping advance information closely held seems reasonable – and whether the so-called Gang of Eight knew in advance or shortly afterward makes no difference to the reality of things. It is just an ego issue.
Talking about oil made it look like the United States was only interested in getting the oil. Trump explained the reasons for guarding the oil – and frankly, it made sense.
Democrats disagree that getting Baghdadi was a bigger deal than getting Bin Laden. That is in the eye of the beholder. Bin Laden produced the biggest attack on the United States since the English invaded in the War of 1812. On the other hand, Baghdadi built the biggest and most vicious terrorist organization in the world – and a califate to host it. This is a political peeing contest that has virtually no importance. It is just cheering the home team without paying attention to the score.
Along the same line, Democrats and the anti-Trump media undertook narratives to marginalize the significance of Baghdadi. He was not all that important. He will be easily replaced. That is just wrong. Democrats seem to have forgotten the wave or grizzly killings as Baghdadi-led ISIS grew from a “junior varsity” team to a dominant force in the Middle East during the Obama administration.
To back into Trump’s removal of troops from the Turkish/Syrian border, Democrats claimed that the Baghdadi raid would not have been possible without boots on the ground. In fact, America had no boots on the ground in that region of Syria because it is held by hostile actors.
Democrats criticized Trump for informing Russia before telling members of Congress about the raid. Here Democrats are being disingenuous. Russia was not informed of the details or purpose of the military action, but under the policies of deconfliction (avoiding an accidental conflict), it was necessary to let Russians, Turks and Syrians know that we intended to enter airspace they controlled. Failure to do so could have resulted in direct engagements with aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons in the possession of any of them.
Democrats chose to believe that Trump was exaggerating Baghdadi’s reactions to the raid without any evidence to the contrary. Yes, Trump is known to hype a story – and maybe he did it to damage the reputation and memory of Baghdadi among his followers. So, what is the benefit to the United States in challenging that description? Is it the desire of the Democrats to build up Baghdadi’s reputation and postmortem influence among ISIS terrorists?
Proving that nothing was too trivial or petty to attack Trump, several talking heads noted that Trump spoke for 50 minutes while President Obama spoke only nine minutes when announcing the killing of Bin Laden. Perhaps they want to add that factoid to the list of impeachable offenses. I mean really … what difference does that make?
Democrats and their media cronies used more time by multiples to nitpick Trump’s statement and his role in getting Baghdadi than they did applauding the biggest fact – the world’s number one terrorist leader is dead. It happened on Trump’s watch and with his strategic involvement. Good on him.
CNN’s Jake Tapper said that he was “not trying to take away from the celebration” of Baghdadi’s demise and then proceeded to do just that.
This was an instance when the political leaders should have come together – should have left partisan politics at the water’s edge – and focus on an important accomplishment in the war on world terror. The target of Democrat disdain should have been Baghdadi, not Trump.
So, there ‘tis.