Liberal Ezra Klein: Osama Bin Laden "Succeeded"


By Rory Cooper

Less than 48 hours after Osama bin Laden was killed in a skilled military operation, The Washington Post’s liberal pundit Ezra Klein is already stretching to find a reason bin Laden actually “succeeded,” albeit partially.

Klein’s hypothesis: Because Americans spent money in ways Klein doesn’t support, bin Laden succeeded by bringing us closer to “bankruptcy”. He conveniently throws in a myriad of policies he finds unappealing, mostly conservative of course, and chalks them all up as supporting the terrorist’s goals. It’s really mind-boggling.

Unfortunately, this is what liberals who objected to our military supremacy, intelligence gathering and global leadership must now do. Objecting to the term Global War on Terror for years now, it is difficult to celebrate a hard-fought achievement of it. They must not accept that many of President George W. Bush’s national security policies continue to be extended by our current president and for good reason.

If you supported fighting terrorists and the Taliban in Afghanistan, ridding the world of the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein, beefing up homeland security and apparently any domestic spending decision not supported by Ezra Klein, then you apparently helped Osama bin Laden succeed, somehow.

Aside from the meritless claims Klein makes, he gets the very few specific details he mentions wrong. First, although he will never admit it, the Bush tax cuts did the opposite of bankrupting America. The inflation-adjusted 20 percent government tax revenue increase between 2004 and 2006 was the largest two-year revenue surge since 1965-1967.

It might be in Klein’s contract that he writes tax cuts (i.e. you keep more of your money) are ‘unpaid for’ in every column. He is certainly welcome to debate the merits of tax policy, but he cannot honestly assert tax cuts pushed our nation toward “bankruptcy” or ridiculously add bin Laden was somehow celebrating them.

Military spending is obviously too high for Klein, but was it too low for bin Laden? If it were not for hard power and unilateral action by the American military, bin Laden would not have been killed. Soft power and diplomacy were not an option. Without a strong and appropriately-funded U.S. military, these victories will not be achieved and future attacks may not be prevented. Our troops deserve the best available equipment to carry out vital missions like these and providing it to them certainly does not help the terrorists.

Klein adds the cost of rebuilding Ground Zero and the health care costs of first responders as part of bin Laden’s plan to bankrupt us. Again, Klein asserts this was about economics and not “body count”. Can you imagine telling the families, victims and first responders of 9/11 (yet alone any of the other heinous acts bin Laden committed) that the terrorist’s end goal was to drive up health care and construction costs?

But then we get into the reason why Klein wrote this opportunistic article. He says: “But it isn’t quite right to say bin Laden cost us all that money,” and continues: “Bin Laden didn’t — couldn’t — bankrupt us. He could only provoke us into bankrupting ourselves. And he came pretty close.”

In this, Klein ignores, as the left has done for decades now, the rising costs of entitlements, rejected spending reforms and his favored stimulus form of government that has made the spending habits of the Bush administration look practically frugal. The national debt has skyrocketed on his watch, as have most other areas of federal spending. But Obama’s spending programs are favored by Klein so they are obviously not part of what is pushing us towards “bankruptcy” and Osama bin Laden’s success.

Which gets us to Klein’s point. We are being pushed towards bankruptcy, but not by any dollar he has ever favored spending, but by every other dollar. And these specific Klein-not-approved dollars are the very dollars Osama bin Laden hoped we would spend.

Klein calls this perceptible financial wizardry of bin Laden a “smart play against a superpower.” See, bin Laden just wanted us to spend money in ways Klein rejects. That was his whole plot. Liberal economics and security expenditures are good, conservative economics and security expenditures support terrorism. Get it? This was bin Laden’s “success.”

In the end, Klein says: “But then, we can learn from our mistakes.” Let’s hope Klein indeed can.


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