Eight years to the day after Bush declared “Mission Accomplished”, it’s finally over.
Osama Bin Laden is dead, and as he died in a hail of American Special Forces bullets, the first shots in the attritional campaign that will decide America’s next president were fired.
In a practical sense, Bin Laden ceased to be relevant a long time ago. Being the most wanted man in the world has a limiting effect on one’s ability to organise a global terror network, and his public pronouncements have been few and far between over the last few years.
But when the chance came, Barack Obama took it. He stood before the press corps over the weekend, wielding the scalpel as he dealt with the dark horse challenge of the Donald. Just as the world digested his clever roasting, the sledgehammer blow to America’s right came.
Last week, he released his long-form birth certificate to put paid to probably the stupidest political conspiracy theory ever. Then on Sunday night he ordered his forces to do what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the hawks couldn’t manage. He ordered the death of Osama Bin Laden.
In one fell swoop, much of the wind has been removed from the sails of America’s right. He decisively delivered the trophy they felt owed to them by Bush, and in doing so he has stolen a march on the middle ground of American politics.
It is fascinating to hear the talking heads rush to the pumps this morning and try to quantify and analyse the death from two perspectives- that of the “Arab street” and Ground Zero. Neither are relevant, and it’s almost like these commentators are deliberately missing the point.
His death will have no bearing on the Arab spring, simply because it is not ideological in nature- it is anti-tyranny. As for Ground Zero, the death of Bin Laden will not bring back a single fireman, or office worker, or police officer. Relief? Maybe. Revenge? Definitely. Closure? Doubtful.
What is relevant is the massive effect that this will have on the American public, thanks in no small part to the hysterical babbling of much of the media.
Many in Middle America love their death penalty as much as they love their guns, and having been subjected to ten years of media nonsense about the clear and present danger that was Bin Laden, they will naturally be relieved and overjoyed at his death.
Obama’s orders to the US Navy Seals put down an early marker to those who would challenge him for the White House, and the further right they are, the worse it gets for them.
He will not be seen as un-American. He will not be seen as soft on terrorism. He will not be seen as shirking his duty. And following his healthcare compromises, that’s basically all the right has on him.
So after the constant harping about the birth cert and the attempts to equate him with Bin Laden, Obama has come out on top in his propaganda war.
In a delicious irony the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh et al have in fact handed Obama an even greater victory – he has given them what their boy (Bush) couldn’t.
And however hard they try to deny it, the right-wing American media now finds itself at the crux of Wilde’s statement about there being two tragedies in life. One is not getting what you wish for.
The other is getting it.