By now it's reached viral proportions. The news of Osama bin Laden's death has echoed like wildfire around the world. It's worth the media attention, worth the fanfare and demonstrations and all the people who have flocked to the 9/11 site and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The President's words have resonated with many, and have united our country around this incredible moment.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. At times, I feel as though the world has changed once again, that unity of the American People is just around the corner. I feel as though this may be the catalyst that puts the dissension and conspiracies and dividing hatred to rest. I can hope that, with this momentous occasion, America can lay aside its divisions and join together in a way that we haven't seen in nearly a decade.
At other times, I'm not so sure. When things went our way during the early years of the Iraq War, Bush was praised and his polls shot up. In a way, this is appropriate, and the same can be expected for Obama. This will undoubtedly come to be one of the turning points in his presidency, perhaps the act that will secure him a second term. But I fear that the partisan rifts in our politics and our country are too deep to be buried even with this. I fear that opponents of Obama will turn this victory around and use it against him, somehow. They will question why he didn't attack sooner, why he didn't tell people how close they were. They will argue he tried to use this for political gain and neglected the safety of the world. I fear that bin Laden's death will be turned around and used as a weapon against Obama.
And this really isn't fair. This is a man, a president, who has accomplished more than any of the three previous presidential administrations (yes, I include Clinton). Two of those administrations made capturing bin Laden a priority. Both failed. One of those three was nearly assassinated by bin Laden. But Obama did it.
It's ridiculous to think that Obama was directly involved with the bin Laden operation. He gave the order after hearing the evidence that others had gathered, he wasn't in a flanking chopper, he didn't fire the shot that killed the world's most notorious terrorist. But Bush wasn't directly involved in the operations in Iraq. No president has ever been a direct operative in any military operation that they are famous for. Obama is the commander-in-chief. He ordered the attack after months of intelligence gathering. He was careful, purposeful, and didn't jump the gun and endanger innocent lives until he was sure. That's something to be proud of in a president, not something to condemn. He weighed the value of bin Laden's death against that possibility of innocent civilians losing their lives, and waited until he was sure he had his man.
I hesitate to say that this is a historic day. I doubt it will be as long remembered as 9/11, even though May 2nd, 2011 is now linked to that day in the minds of many Americans. I may be wrong. This may turn into books and movies and a whole industry meant to feed off of people's patriotism. It may become marketed like 9/11 has been. But the backlash from this, the possibility of greater terrorist atrocities because of bin Laden's death is already circling at the edge of the country's consciousness. Our intelligence agencies and military are already warning the world against possible attacks.
Let's all take a moment today, consider what has happened in the last ten years, and remind ourselves that we are blessed to be safer today than yesterday, that we have lived through history, and come out the other side. Let's take this opportunity to shake hands with those we thought were our enemies, but are merely American brothers and sisters. We're all winners today, we're all related, we're all proud.
God Bless America.