Eric Cantor Credits Bush For Killing Bin Laden


Well, I was wondering how Republicans were going to spin this now that Osama bin Laden is dead. Today we got our answer -- credit George W. Bush.

I think Doug over at Balloon Juice may have had the best headline of the day on this -- Midway through the Obama recession, George W. Bush wins the war on terror.

And as Steve Benen wrote and you can see Cantor repeating in the video above from Cavuto's show on Fox, the House Majority Leader just had to go there:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), shortly after President Obama's remarks on Osama bin Laden, issued a related statement. It included this gem:

"I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice."

There's a fair amount of this rhetoric bouncing around this morning, and it's not especially surprising -- Republicans aren't going to credit President Obama, regardless of merit, so it stands to reason they'll try to bring George W. Bush into the picture.

If this is going to be a new GOP talking point, we might as well set the record straight.

In March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him.... You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you."

In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.

In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."

And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.

Rep. Barney Frank weighed in on Cantor's statement as well -- Barney Frank On Cantor Crediting Bush For Killing Bin Laden: ‘That’s Just Sad’:

But many on the right also want to give credit to President Bush — who regularly said that getting bin Laden wasn’t his priority. House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said in a statement, “I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice.”

ThinkProgress asked Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to respond to Cantor’s comment and Frank didn’t mince words:

FRANK: Well first of all, I think, let’s give discredit where it is due. For Eric Cantor to phrase it that way, to say he followed the vigilance of President Bush is a degree of key partisanship that exceeded what I even expected from Cantor. That’s just sad. [...]

If Bush had gotten Osama after Clinton had failed do you think Eric Cantor would’ve given Clinton credit and said, “Oh good Bush got Osama bin Laden, he showed the same vigilance as Bill Clinton”? No. Not even close.

“There’s been a striking absence of Republicans willing to repudiate” right-wing attacks on Obama for allegedly not being “interested in protecting America,” Frank noted, adding:

FRANK: Maybe we’ve got two outrageous lies refuted within a space of a week. First, we had the birth nonsense and now the nonsense that the President is not committed to fully defending American security.

Video available at the link above.

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