American Elephants


Reactions: Pride, Dismay, Surprise, Vengeance, Confusion. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama signed off on a daring pre-dawn raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, believed to be the hideout of Osama bin Laden. The raid by the Navy’s SEAL Team Six ended the long search for the al Qaeda leader and evoked a great sense of pride and gratitude from the American people.  It was, perhaps, President Obama’s finest moment. It was a courageous act on the part of the president.

Liberals have been overwhelmed. The president they were beginning to think would not properly stand up to the hated Republicans exhibited a daring that was a shock to the system of any card-carrying  leftist. E.J. Dionne Jr. expressed it in a column titled “After the Raid We Find Out Who Obama Is.”:

Barack Obama is not the man many Americans thought he was. This sudden realization has transformed American politics. The sheer audacity of the successful operation against Osama bin Laden has forced Obama’s friends and foes alike to reassess what they make of a chief executive who defies easy categorization and reveals less about himself than politicians are typically drawn to do.

Obama is hard to understand because he is many things and not just one thing. He has now proved that he can be bold at an operational level, even as he remains cautious at a philosophical level. …

The president’s rhetoric has often emphasized caring, compassion and community, the language one expects from a moderately liberal politician. Yet as one of his close aides told me long ago, there is inside a very cool, tough, even hard man.

The American people celebrated with emotions ranging from finality to euphoria to vengeance satisfied.  Long overdue, it was universally hailed as a very good thing. But the management of the aftermath began to fall apart. The raid was flawless, after a dramatic firefight, bin Laden was found cowering behind a woman, presumed to be one of his wives, and as he tried to get off a shot, he was killed with a double-tap to the head.

Then the story started changing.  No firefight, no returned fire, wasn’t hiding behind a woman. Everyone was unarmed.  Everyone was watching in real-time from the Situation Room in the White House.  We saw pictures of the President and his Security team watching. No, there was no real-time video.  Of course there was video. The body was evacuated on the helicopter, treated with all reverence and buried at sea with full Muslim ceremony. A daughter says Osama was shot right in front of the family. Some suggest that he was already dead.  The Pakistanis were surprised to find that bin Laden was there. The Pakistanis have known he was there since 2009.

Whew!  The raid may have been elegantly managed and executed by our very capable military. The management of the aftermath — explaining to the American people what happened — has been so incompetently bungled it is astonishing.

The indecision and dithering about releasing pictures of Osama have taken two days. They need to be released to prove to the world that he is dead. They are too gruesome to behold. Because they are disturbing they might provoke Muslim reaction.  We must beware a violent Muslim reaction.  Osama’s attacks on Muslims in Iraq were the last straw and he is no hero.

Hot Air had a wide-ranging column on liberal reactions to bin Laden’s death, and IowaHawk has a hysterical piece, as usual.

The Justice Department is still trying to investigate the CIA personnel who had anything to do with the enhanced interrogation (waterboarding) that produced the intelligence that led to the final location of bin Laden.

Obama will go to Ground Zero tomorrow to lay a wreath. President Clinton and President Bush declined to accompany him.


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