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But while Obama takes the high road, his aides have made sure there are proxies to exuberantly brag on him.
The White House clearly blessed the dramatic reconstruction of the mission by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker — so vividly descriptive of the SEALS' looks, quotes and thoughts that Schmidle had to clarify after the piece was published that he had not actually talked to any of them.
"I'll just say that the 23 SEALs on the mission that evening were not the only ones who were listening to their radio communications," Schmidle said, answering readers' questions in a live chat, after taking flak for leaving some with the impression that he had interviewed the heroes when he wrote in his account that it was based on "some of their recollections."
The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of bin Laden to counter Obama's growing reputation as ineffectual.
The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made "The Hurt Locker" will no doubt reflect the president's cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.
The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.
It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president's image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a CIA ceremony celebrating the hero SEALs.
Just like W., Obama is going for that "Mission Accomplished" glow (without the suggestive harness). At least in this president's case, though, something has been accomplished.
Maureen Dowd is a New York Times columnist.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.