Presented with the conundrum of whether or not to show Osama bin Laden’s death photos, the administration is telegraphing loudly and obviously the fact that they are “in discussions” and not sure it’s the right thing to do. For two days now, administration spokespersons have said, in one form or another, that they are considering releasing photos but are weighing many factors.
So, why this appearance of hemming and hawing over a decision that seems like an obvious one? It’s clear that, to passify people around the world, both Obama-haters in the USA and those who are skeptical in other countries, the administration will have to release at least one photo, perhaps more. The few images we’ve seen of the room where bin Laden was killed are not enough, though they are a good beginning.
Here’s why they are hemming and hawing: the release of these images is going to be cataclysmic in some foreign quarters, even under the best of situations. But, by being very outwardly reticent to release them and by being seen very visibly as thinking long and hard about this decision, the Obama administration is sending a message to our enemies and those who are on-the-fence about the USA and its intentions after eight long years of Cowboy Chutzbah and Frat Boy Braggadocio. He is telling them that he’s not putting his foot on the dead body of bin Laden and thumping his chest. He’s not shouting to the heavens how tough or how cavalier he is.
In other words, he’s not George W. Bush.
Instead, he’s showing the world that he’s thoughtful and that he’s aware of the impact of his decisions around the world.
It’s strategically the best possible way to do this. He’s going to do it eventually but he’s laying the groundwork to make it look like he’s being made to do it rather than because he wants to do it. This will help in our country’s relationships with Muslims and other groups across the globe. Brilliant.
UPDATE: Turns out the Obama administration is NOT going to release photos of bin Laden’s dead body. Suits me. That’s an even better signal to send and doesn’t force him to appease anti-Obama zealots both here and abroad. At this point, I think he’s got enough political credibility to weather any minor pushback he might get because of it. I mean, who the hell cares what Eric Cantor or Andrew Breitbart think about it???
I’m just sayin’…