Governor Christie’s outspoken style and demeanor often bring him criticism, but he has displayed a touch of class in his comments about the Barack Obama’s role in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Whereas many top Republicans made no mention of the Democratic president in their comments on the incident, Christie praised the Obama administration for “its commitment and dedication to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice” in a statement he issued shortly after the news about bin Laden broke.
The Republican governor elaborated on the president’s role during a news conference on Monday:
I commend him and his administration. If you read the stories of the extraordinary work that went into this operation, the intelligence portion of it and then the execution of it, the President, as the Commander in Chief, deserves extraordinary credit for what he was able to do here and I commend him for it. Because these decisions are never easy. They always look easy in retrospect. When you’re the person sitting in the chair having to make some of these calls, you recognize that these are really difficult decisions to make. He’s putting men and women in harm’s way and just as well as things went, they could’ve gone poorly. And then there would’ve been a whole chorus of second-guessers out there who would’ve been second-guessing the President’s judgment in every step along the way. So if they’re going to do that, when it goes real well, like it did for our country last night, then the man in charge deserves the credit. The President deserves the credit for doing really an extraordinary job.
Make no mistake: It was the Navy Seals who put their lives in harm’s way and displayed tremendous courage and skill. But as Politico’s Mike Allen relates in his excellent account of the steps that led to bin Laden’s killing, President Obama was actively involved in the process. Just four months into his term, Obama directed the CIA to develop “a detailed operation plan” for locating bin Laden and bringing him to justice, Allen reported. He also said the President personally chaired numerous National Security Council meetings on the plan and made the decision not to bomb the complex, opting instead for a helicopter raid in order to minimize civilian casualties and increase the likelihood that bin Laden would be positively identified.
As we learn more about the mission, we are likely to hear divergent views on the extent of the President’s involvement, but I believe Governor Christie’s opinion carries more weight. As a governor, Christie understands the dynamics between a chief executive and the agencies responsible for public safety. As a former U.S. Attorney — in a part of the country that has been a target of terrorists, he is well-acquainted with what is required to combat terrorism. And on a personal level, he knows what it was like to have loved ones in New York City on September 11, 2001.