I was harshly critical of Obama’s Correspondents’ Dinner speech Saturday night, and I still am.
The speech was petty and unnecessarily divisive, and the video played just before the speech — which at best bordered on mocking traditional patriotism — was no better.
But in hindsight, the speech was even more remarkable because as Obama took the podium to lash out not only at Donald Trump, but at numerous Republicans figures, the operation to kill Osama bin Laden either was in progress or was imminent.
The speech could have set the stage to bring people together, because regardless of the outcome of the military operation, national unity would be important. If the operation failed, we needed to come together and value the attempt. If it succeeded, as it did, it could be a moment to lessen the harsh linguistic attacks on each other, to change the tone.
Instead, the Correspondents’ Dinner speech set a tone we saw played out all last night into today on Twitter and elsewhere, with mocking derision directed towards George W. Bush and Republicans in general, as if the hunt for bin Laden really only started on January 20, 2009. (We now know that in fact a key piece of intelligence was gleaned approximately four years ago,
likely from a detainee at Gitmo.)
I congratulate Obama on giving the green light to the assault on bin Laden’s compound, it showed a maturity of thought. I wish I could say the same about the Correspondents’ Dinner speech.
Update: Jake Tapper reports that the operation was given the final go ahead on Friday, and was planned for Saturday night but was delayed a day due to weather.