Two nights ago, President Barack Obama made an announcement from the East Room of the White House that was even more stunning than the release of his “long form” birth certificate earlier in the week: “Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”
Bin Laden, 54, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, had reportedly eluded American intelligence for the past 11 years. He was also the enigmatic scion of the extraordinarily wealthy Bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia. The family made their fortune from construction contracts awarded by the Saudi royal family.
Political leadership is about perception. Obama not only has been catching hell in the press about his lack of a coherent “end-game” addressing regime change in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria, but, the release of his birth certificate was regarded as a capitulation to Donald Trump, the New York real estate mogul and 2012 GOP presidential hopeful.
Trump waged a campaign in the press about the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, weakness as a leader, Affirmative Action baby status, and his lack of qualifications to be the leader of the free world. If there were an election held today, Trump would win hands down as Carnival-Barker-In-Chief. However, Obama’s announcement that American military operatives killed Bin Laden may very well have guaranteed a victory in the 2012 presidential election.
Last week, President Obama was justifying his birth as a U.S. citizen. Last night, he proved he is “one of us” by announcing the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.
Bin Laden’s head, literally speaking, is a huge trophy that President Bush could not deliver. More than two years into his presidency, Obama was able to “kill” Bin Laden and, in effect, send the message to his detractors that he is not simply a liberal smooth talking president. No, Obama is prepared to use military power to protect the American empire and interests against Muslim terrorists, not to mention Muslims who do not know their place.
How the assassination of Bin Laden will play out officially and unofficially in the Arab and Muslim world remains to be seen. The larger question of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the United States will obviously be debated. Pakistan is supposed to be an ally of the United States.
Did the Pakistanis provide a safe haven to Bin Laden? Afterall, Bin Laden’s compound was reportedly in a neighborhood where retired high ranking military officials resided. It was also very near to Pakistani military headquarters. The entire matter provides a breathtaking level of intrigue and raises questions about the American intelligence community.
To a large number of Americans, Bin Laden’s assassination brings a simplified version of closure— “us versus them” triumphalism. The very sight of U.S. citizens waving American flags and honking their horns outside of the White House and at Ground Zero in New York last night on CNN was almost reminiscent of the day when Obama was elected. It is a major historical event that will undoubtedly impact Obama’s popularity numbers.
It is unlikely that the president will be able to win reelection running on the resuscitation of the economy, which before last night seemed to set the stage for the 2012 Presidential Election showdown. According to many economists, the human carnage of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans—including those impacted by budget cuts and shifting social “safety net” public policy— will remain a constant in American life for years to come.
By contrast, Bin Laden’s assassination may be the very ground work needed for Obama to run for a second term as a talk softly and carry a big stick president. Given the country’s near-hysteria over the demise of Bin Laden, it is an image that Americans seem to delight in.
Hakim Hasan is a contributor to Newsone.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org