Rep. Chabot Breaks With GOP Presidential Candidates, Says Obama ‘Deserves Some Credit’ On Libya

ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.

With the six-month-long civil war in Libya apparently drawing to a close and dictator Moammar Qaddafi losing his grip on power, Republican presidential hopefuls have pointedly refused to give President Obama any credit for the United States’ intervention in the North African country. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, none of the leading Republican candidates offered praise for the commander-in-chief. Rick Santorum even declared that “this indecisive President had little to do with this triumph.”

However, one Republican congressman broke ranks with his GOP colleagues and offered credit where it’s due.

ThinkProgress spoke with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) following a town hall meeting last night in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chabot, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, conceded that President Obama “deserves some credit” for his decision to endorse the NATO intervention earlier this year.

KEYES: Do you think President Obama deserves any credit for [Qaddafi’s] imminent ouster?

CHABOT: I think he deserves some credit. I also think, however, there were a lot of missteps. There were a lot of decisions that should have been made earlier. I think it’s never a good idea for the United States to so-called “lead from behind.” And there were mistakes made in this, as there are in all endeavors.

Though Chabot is correct to credit Obama’s intervention with the eventual success of the Libyan uprising, the Ohio congressman’s criticism of the “lead from behind” approach is misguided. The Libyan rebels’ victory can in many ways be seen as a vindication of Obama’s approach, as it allowed the matter to remain largely directed by the Libyan people rather than foreigners.

In any case, Chabot’s willingness to offer some credit to Obama on Libya is a refreshing reminder that politicians can still cross the aisle with praise when the truth warrants doing so. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen over the past 48 hours, even praising Obama for an obvious victory like this one is still a bridge too far for Republican presidential hopefuls.