How Obama made the 3 am phone call ad obsolete

During the 2008 Democratic primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama there was that now infamous 3 a.m. phone call ad. At the time the fear mongering-style ad was intended to scare Texas primary voters into voting for Hillary Clinton over the inexperienced new kid on the block Senator Barack Obama.

The spooky voiceover said, “It’s 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep…But there’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing…Who do you want answering the phone?”

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In the wake of the incredibly historic news that reviled dictator Muammar Gadhafi, who rulked Libya with an iron fist for 42 years, was captured and killed yesterday, doesn’t the 3 a.m. ad now seem utterly ridiculous?

At this moment in the Obama presidency does anyone with a little common sense and a television set really believe that President Obama has not proven both able to answer that 3 a.m. call but also give the proper orders to whoever is on the other end?


Let’s recap for a moment: President Obama came into office and experts said he wasn’t ready to be a leader on the world stage. During the primary fight with Hillary he specifically was attacked for saying that if as president he if learned that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, he would send in troops to take him out whether or not he had the Pakistani government’s permission.

Everyone called him naïve. Obama was opening mocked by both Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain for his position on Pakistan.

In May, when the President Obama learned that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, he sent in Navy Seals to take Bin Laden out. And as Americans coast-to-coast celebrated, no one dared call President Obama naïve anymore.

Last month, a drone strike in Yemen killed yet another prominent Al Qaida figure, Anwar al-Awlaki who was suspected of orchestrating a number of terrorist plots including the two on U.S. airlines in 2009. With the U.S. decision to intervene in Libya, the critics came from the left and the right. President Obama was attacked for avoiding a vote in Congress and for instead going to the United Nations to create an international coalition of allies to take on the Gadhafi regime as Libya descended into turmoil.

President Obama was steadfast in his decision to assist the Libyan people, not by sending in hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops like the previous administration, but instead choosing to spread out the responsibility and conduct an Arab League approved operation with our European allies. In the end, Gadhafi is dead and there was not one U.S. soldier killed.

When asked about the development during the White House press briefing, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said, “Well, I think I’ve made clear that we believe that the President made the right decisions to work with our allies, to work with NATO, to work with the United Nations, not to do something on the cheap but because it was the right policy answer to the situation that presented itself, taking a long-term view about what outcome do you want in Libya.”

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Vice President Joe Biden also noted that this is the new normal for American involvement overseas. Biden said, “This is more of the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past,” in an effort to make it clear that the Obama administration doesn’t do things like start boondoggle like the war in Iraq.

As President Obama racks up win after win in the realm of foreign policy, the ultimate irony is the role that Secretary Hillary plays as President Obama’s chief diplomat given their long and complicated political history. Secretary Clinton is literally implementing the so-called Obama doctrine that she once shunned. It’s her job to do so of course, and Secretary Clinton is a good soldier, but in the face of so many successes, her now infamous ad meant to scare voters into thinking President Obama is not up to the many challenges that come with being leader of the free world, is now unintentionally funny.

In some ways, you can even imagine a scenario where Secretary Clinton is the one making the 3 a.m. call to President Obama alerting him to an international incident which he handles with his trademark precision.

Future generations will look back at this period and that 3 a.m. ad and pair that with the foreign policy achievements of this administration, from his speech in Cairo to the killing of Gadhafi, and everything in between, and agree that President Obama is the one you want answer that late night call. And dictators of rogue states will hope it goes straight to Obama’s voicemail.