President Obama rightly called for national unity in announcing the successful strike against Bin Laden, but his own rhetoric won’t make that unity easier. He took pains to emphasize his personal role in the operation, declaring that “I directed Leon Panetta….to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden a top priority”—as if President Bush hadn’t emphasized precisely the same priority with his own Directors of Central Intelligence!
President Obama made a gracious gesture by calling President Bush before he made his televised statement, but he could have cited that call when he spoke. The non-partisan note the president sought demanded that he emphasize the role of others—and especially our military—rather than his own. No one can take away credit he’ll receive for a triumph under his watch, so why make a special point of claiming it?