Obama on bin Laden raid: Michelle didn't know

During his appearance on '60 Minutes,' President Obama acknowledged some of the pressures of the job, including having to maintain presidential secrecy – even from his wife.

By , Staff writer

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    In this screen shot released by CBS, President Obama speaks with '60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft at the White House in Washington, May 4. The interview was aired May 8.
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Here’s a bit you may have missed from President Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview, broadcast Sunday night: he didn’t tell Michelle about the Osama bin Laden raid before it happened.

From the way he talked about it, it sounds like he didn’t even confide in Bo the Portuguese Water Dog during a Rose Garden walk.

“I didn’t tell my own family,” Mr. Obama told CBS interviewer Steve Kroft.

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Most people, they have a big presentation coming up at work, or a client meeting on which their continued employment depends, they get to confide in their spouse or significant other to try and off-load some of the tension. It helps to share your worries. Keeping it to yourself while you’re lying away, staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m.? That’s a great way to develop premature gray hair.

But imagine you’re commander-in-chief and actually sending people into combat. You don’t even get to look worried! You have to fly off to inspect tornado damage in the South, then come back and be relaxed and funny at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and look like you think you’ve got your problems under control. As Obama noted, the presidency demands that you do more than one thing at a time.

Most of the people in the White House didn’t know that last weekend would be one of the most fateful of the whole Obama administration. Most of Obama’s senior aides, even, were in the dark.

“There were times where you wanted to go around and talk this through with some more folks. And that just wasn’t an option. And during the course of the weekend, you know, there was no doubt that this was weighing on me,” Obama told “60 Minutes”.

And it wasn’t like Obama was pretty sure things were going to turn out right. Any military operation is inherently risky. Plus, the conclusion that Osama bin Laden was present at the Abbottabad compound was based on the “slenderest bits of information,” Obama noted.

“At the end of the day, this was still a 55/45 situation. I mean we could not say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then there would have been some significant consequences,” Obama told CBS.

Obama is far from alone in having to handle a tense situation like that in secrecy. Every recent US chief executive has faced a similar situation – or situations. It’s just another reminder of the extraordinary demands of the job that used to also be called the Leader of the Free World.

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