I heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden the same way a lot of other people across the country did – while I was doing something else on a Sunday night other than watching cable news on TV. In fact, I was sitting outside, finishing off a mediocre but still satisfying stogie while in the midst of firing up my trusty dusty laptop when S. opened the door, all ready for bed with her curlers in her hair, and said “they killed bin Laden.”
It took me a few moments after she had closed the door to process everything she’d said. Then I sat the laptop down, laid my cigar down gently and went into the house to get the phone, for the words my buddy had uttered back in the spring of 2009, soon after the death threats against President Obama had escalated and the Tea Party had been born, came back to me.
“…come on man…I think if he gets bin Laden they will forget he’s black.”
My buddy has young children, which means I have long since given up calling him after nine o’clock, but I figured he wouldn’t want to miss out on this. As the phone rang I puffed sparingly on the last two inches of my cigar, my free hand tapping the keyboard of my laptop as I perused the web pages of my favorite political internet sites.
My buddy sounded very drowsy when he answered the phone, as if he was fading in and out of sleep. “What’s up?”
“You got your TV on?”
“Yeah, I’m watching a movie.”
“Turn the channel to CNN. Bin Laden is dead.”
And like that, he was instantly awake. It only took about a minute of the requisite questions anyone snatched from the threshold of slumber would ask, the volume now blaring on his TV as Wolf Blitzer’s animated voice filled the background, before he too went back to the spring of 2009.
“Remember what I said? Remember what I said about what would happen if Obama got bin Laden? You know what this means.”
I was on Twitter, tired of the same stories on the major news sites, the columns on my TweetDeck application flying by, all of them chock full of missives opining on the demise of America’s most wanted enemy. “Yeah, I remember what you said about what will happen to the naysayers if Obama gets bin Laden.”
I was almost sorry I’d called my buddy now. “Hey man, don’t you listen to what I’ve been telling you these last few months? These people are committed to their narrative.”
“Yeah, but HE GOT BIN LADEN, man!”
I paused for a minute, the heat from the foreshortened tip of the cigar warming my hand. “They are about to throw the kitchen sink at the president during the next year and a half. This doesn’t matter.”
After watching President Obama’s speech about the mission and the impromptu celebrations being featured on the all the cable news channels, I began to wonder about the conversation I’d had with my buddy. Just how were the right wing extremists taking this? So while most of the people in the nation who were still up were tuned to the celebrations in the streets, I was touring the comment sections of Redstate, Free Republic, and Michelle Malkin while CNN played in the background, which made for a very surreal reading experience.
“I am reading George Bush’s “Decision Points” at the moment, and the differences between a confident, humble, loving Commander in Chief and a virulent, pip-squeak Marxist ideologue narcissist who detests the projection of American power are stunning in the context of cold, hard reality.
Barack Obama taking credit for the killing of Osama Dust Bin Laden is akin to the Batboy taking credit for the World Series Win. Yeah, he was there, but the bats would have made it to the plate without him.”
“It’s probably true that a Navy Seal killed him. But it’s even more likely that the defining characteristic of the bullet wounds was freezer burn around the edges. ‘Damn, we were holding onto this for a really opportune moment, not for the opportunism of Obama trying to divert attention from yet another birth certificate-related fraud, the destruction of the economy, the U.S. oil infrastructure, the coal industry, the nuclear power industry, the health care industry, etc’ must be going through the minds of many.”
“I hope that the savage is dead. I can not believe anything that this socialist, America-destroying administration says; nor trust anything that it does. Burial at sea is the last alternative that I would have expected, admittedly likely partly due to my ignorance of such matters. But, it does give the first impression of an alternative chosen by former hippy/SDS-ers/war protesters/Weathermen sympathizers who, for political reasons, are now trying to look tough and smart. Nothing this administration says/does passes the smell test. Nothing.”
These comments weren’t made after the daylong drumbeat of talk radio had drilled the latest talking points into these people’s heads, but in the wee hours just after midnight on Monday morning. The handful of comments like this one:
“Though I also despise Obama, credit should go where it's due. Personally, I wish this kill had happened during the Bush administration, but... it didn't.”
were practically invisible amongst the hundreds of extremely negative posts on these sites.
Back when George Bush was being vilified for not knowing that we were going to be attacked by Al Qaeda, I spent way too many hours on this very same internet explaining why it was ridiculous to expect our intelligence services to find the security equivalent of a needle in a haystack, even though I was no fan of President Bush. And while the cold eyed pragmatist in me understands how much standard intelligence procedure rather than political policy had to do with finding the location of Osama bin Laden, I am equally as invested in making sure that President Obama’s decision-making in this same matter ten years later is neither belittled or denied.