Obama's perfectly choreographed Kabul address

Military personnel watch on a screen as President Barack Obama makes a live address at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

President Obama played two roles to perfection overnight:commander-in-chief and campaigner-in-chief.

Not entirely to his credit, the two have now totally merged.

For Barack Obama, every statement and every trip seems to be focused on a single aim: his own re-election.

The President addressed the American people from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.

It was perfectly choreographed. It was 4am in Kabul. But no matter - it was 7.30pm on the EastCoast: the perfect time for a President to reach into the American heartland and speak to swing voters.

As analysts have noted, it is the power of incumbency.

While the President was slipping into Afghanistan aboard a darkened Air Force One, followed by a small group of reporters in awe of the secrecy, Mitt Romney was eating pizza on the campaign trail.

This lurch towards full campaign mode began as the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death approached. President Obama began running campaign ads suggesting that by ordering the commando raid he had taken the most courageous decision since the Civil War. Well, not quite, but almost.

Still more politically charged, the White House implied that Mitt Romney would have let bin Laden off the hook. Let's be honest: any President would have authorised the Abbottabad raid.

There could never have been a repeat of the debacle of Tora Bora, when the al-Qaida chief escaped at the last moment.

Suddenly the heroism and professionalism of Seal Team Six is being hijacked by the Obama campaign strategists for their own purpose.

It's cynical stuff. But this is America in the months before an election. And there's more to come.

The trip to Afghanistan was just the warm up act.

More on this story