No-Drama Obama Keeps His Cool—and Trumps His Critics

No-Drama Obama Keeps His Cool—and Trumps His Critics

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When Alanis Morissette sings “Isn’t it ironic?” she could very well be crooning about President Barack Obama’s last few days.

Obama produced moments rich in irony during a five-day span— from Thursday morning to the wee hours of Monday—as he put his thumb in the eyes and plugs in the mouths of Donald Trump and other birthers by releasing his long-form birth certificate, poisoned any chance of a credible Trump Republican presidential run with his scathing jokes aimed at a sour-faced Trump at a Washington press dinner and ordered up a successful hit on long-sought-after 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Through it all, Obama was “Cool Hand Luke,” keeping a poker face and not letting on what he was up to until it was finally done. And in the process, he left a string of ironies that weren’t lost on his supporters or rivals.

Right before the birther-embracing Trump and his helicopter landed in New Hampshire for a campaign test or tease tour, Obama up and released his Hawaiian long-form birth certificate, essentially—at least among rational people—quashing Trump’s signature issue.

Obama sent Trump home steaming from the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday following a staccato attack of jokes about the real estate mogul and television reality show host’s presidential aspirations.

“No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” Obama said with a stone-faced Trump in the audience. “And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter—like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

Obama cracked wise against his foes at the black tie dinner a day after he had secretly green-lit a Navy SEALs mission to fly into Pakistan uninvited, raid bin Laden’s hideaway, take down the terrorist, bring his body to a waiting ship for identity verification, then feed him to the sharks.

He authorized the raid on the week before the anniversary of former President George W. Bush’s May 1, 2003 premature victory lap, for which he donned a tight flight suit, dramatically landed in a jet onto an aircraft carrier and proclaimed hostilities with Iraq over while standing under a huge banner that read “Mission Accomplished.”

Obama was all smiles at the dinner even as “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Myers, the comedy act for the night, joked about bin Laden hiding in plain sight as the host of a show on C-SPAN, the low-rated government affairs network.

Even the night of the raid had irony. Photos released by the White House Monday showed Obama and his national security/diplomacy team huddled in the Situation Room grimly monitoring the mission.

Obama is seen leaning forward in his chair, eyes transfixed on a screen, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seated across from the president, has a seemingly surprised look on her face and a hand covering her mouth as she watches the same screen.

“Okay, we know how the president reacts to a 3 a.m. phone call - he does it very well,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told The Huffington Post Tuesday, recalling then-Democratic presidential candidate Clinton’s suggestion in 2008 that candidate Obama didn’t have the intestinal fortitude (or some part in the lower region of the anatomy) to handle a 3 a.m. international crisis call.

By taking out bin Laden the way he did, Obama neutralized potential criticism from Republicans and Tea Party supporters who’ve accused him in the past of being soft on terrorism. In authorizing the SEALs raid, Obama selected the riskiest option presented to him. The other choices included a Stealth bomber or drone aircraft attack to level bin Laden’s compound or large-scale commando attack.

A bomber attack may have leveled bin Laden’s compound, but would have offered no guarantee of confirmation of his demise – a sure-fire potential talking point for congressional Republicans.

A large scale assault on the compound could have cost Pakistani civilian lives and further alienate the Pakistani government, which didn’t know about the SEALs raid until after it was successfully conducted.

Invading the compound and bringing bin Laden back alive would have likely created a GOP feeding frenzy about where the Obama administration would jail bin Laden, whether he would face a military tribunal or civilian trial and where would it be held. The White House went through that once in trying to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and didn’t want to go through it again.

By going the risky route – the raid, taking bin Laden’s body and running DNA testing on it before slipping it in the ocean in a weighted bag – left Obama’s detractors precious little to complain about.

Indeed, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, who normally can’t breathe without bashing Obama, gave him credit for doing what former President George W. Bush couldn’t: Get bin Laden.

But some Republicans still couldn’t bring themselves to give the president full propers. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who embraced conservative thinker Dinesh D’Souza’s theory that Obama has a Kenyan world view and is driven by his late African father’s alleged anti-colonial bent, first credited Bush, “who led the campaign against our enemies for seven long years,” he said, and then Obama, “who intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Some Tea Partiers had a hard time, too.

“Is this part of Obama’s re-election plan?” one Tea Party supporter grumbled on the Tea Party Nation Web site. “America’s problems still exist, Mr. President, and you have probably added some more ... We entered another country without their knowledge and carried out a military action. Does our Commander-in-Chief not think there will be serious repercussions from this action?”

Meanwhile, Obama continues to be “Cool Hand Luke,” not getting too high or low in public about recent events, perhaps mindful that former President George H. W. Bush was on top of the political world after he successfully waged the first Gulf War. But Bush found himself out of the White House after one term, the victim of a bad economy and Democrat Bill Clinton’s charm in 1992.

White House officials believe Obama won’t meet the same fate, and the president said at the press dinner Saturday that he has a sure-fire self-help tool to avoid arrogance, hubris and keep him humble.