Note to all those criticizing Representative Jahana Hayes for her congratulatory tweet to the president: lighten up. She didn’t say he was a good man—or a man at all; even so, the elimination of a terrorist threat is something behind which we can all rally.
Note #2 to Jahana Hayes: pay closer attention from now on. The president had absolutely nothing to do with the elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Congratulating him even obliquely is ludicrous. Trump has no concept of foreign policy beyond property in foreign cities, and he considers all those experts conversant with world affairs to be part of some deep state his paranoia has formulated.
This was a military operation that he was undoubtedly apprised of, but he never followed protocol afterwards and used the raid for his own self-aggrandizement. I watched his speech Sunday and it all seemed wrong. This morning I read this from Bret Stephens, a Republican and former harsh critic of Obama. During a conversation with another journalist, Stephens summarized the Trump debacle better than I ever could .
I wasn’t exactly Barack Obama’s No. 1 fan when he was in office," he said. "But after watching Trump’s performance on Sunday, I went back and watched Obama’s 2011 announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. It was dignified and eloquent. And then I watched George H.W. Bush’s February 1991 announcement of victory in the gulf war, when he said this was “certainly not a time to gloat.” What a contrast these two presidents provide! What depressing reminders of what presidential behavior used to look like!"
Later in the conversation, he added the following:
I’m as glad as anyone that al-Baghdadi is dead, and glad also that he was killed thanks to American action. I’m also sorry he murdered three children in the bargain. But whatever we accomplished against ISIS with his death we undermined with our withdrawal from northern Syria, which has jeopardized the continued imprisonment of thousands of captured ISIS terrorists.
Jahana Hayes may be new to politics, but she isn’t so young as to be unaware of what it means to be presidential and what it means to be a bully and blowhard. And for all Trump’s bluster about al-Baghdadi whimpering like a baby, Trump doesn’t even understand the concept of martyrdom.
The abhorrent act of blowing up three children makes al-Baghdadi both a martyr and a savage. I don't understand his final act, but I doubt if it evolved out of cowardice, or if there was any whimpering.
Finally Jahana Hayes must know, as we all do, how foreign the whole idea of military service is to Trump. The personnel involved in last weekend’s raid worked within a framework of integrity, precision, and patriotism—pretty much the other side of the coin to Trump’s dishonesty, fecklessness, and egoism.
I’m glad we have able men and women to carry out maneuvers like that, but they might be the first to affirm that death deserves some solemnity. We have all heard of people witnessing executions of mass murderers— criminals with no redeeming social graces—and feeling disheartened afterwards. The taking of a life will do that: it's staggering in its finality. To joke about it shows a savagery that should be beneath us.
It isn't, obviously, beneath all of us.