Now that the world’s most infamous killer has been taken out of circulation, how should conservatives feel? I mean, apart from the pride in our military and intelligence personnel and the satisfaction that there is one less thug to direct the forces of evil against Western civilization.
It’s true that some questions remain, particularly with the White House’s abominable handling of the facts in the case. One can’t blame those who have doubts about many of the details surrounding the killing and disposal of bin Laden. Indeed, recent reports indicating that a deal may have been made between then-presidents Bush and Musharraf permitting U.S. missions to capture the Al Qaeda chief within Pakistani borders, would explain a lot.
But aside from these considerations, why are some conservatives feeling a bit queasy about the whole thing? Has our inveterate dislike for the policies of our president so hardened our hearts that we are no longer capable of giving credit where credit is due?
I don’t think so. It has more to do with Obama’s take on the killing and the reaction of his supporters to it.
Maybe it was the swooning and drooling that rolled across the print and airwaves of America like a tsunami in the aftermath of the killing. Chris Matthews summed up the dizzying exuberance of the media when he pronounced it “best week ever” for the country. This unrestrained glee over the death of bin Laden after ten years of pursuit was, shall we say, in sharp contrast to the left’s reaction when George W. Bush issued his famous “dead or alive” ultimatum while the rubble at Ground Zero was still smoking, which was dismissed as “wild west rhetoric.”
But it is now Barack Obama and the powers behind his teleprompter that are dishing out the gunslinger talk. In an interview Sunday on 60 Minutes, the president said, “[O]ne thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out. Justice was done.” Added to this new portrayal of himself as a cool dispenser of vigilante justice was the role of courageous wartime leader. How do we know this? Because he was not too humble to deign to explain it all to his subjects. As he elaborated in his most Churchillian fashion for the CBS cameras:
You know, every time I make a decision — about launching a missile, every time I make a decision about sending troops into battle — you know I understand that this will result in people being killed. And that is a sobering fact. But it is one that comes with the job.
Yet Obama does deserve credit for courage; especially in the face of his own base. This should answer any questions about the absolute certainty of his re-election chances. Now I’m not suggesting that the president acted on any other motive than a sincere desire to rid the world of our sworn enemy. No, it’s the pose that he’s chosen to employ in its wake that seems to imply that he needs to fire up the independents, or as they used to be known, Reagan Democrats.
The thing is, Obama’s action against Osama — and the manner in which the intelligence for the mission was gleaned — doesn’t square with the stated foreign policy objectives on which he campaigned. His past record can’t help but make his opponents feel that the whole business carries with it a decided whiff of opportunism.
And maybe this is at the core of what disturbs conservatives about last week’s events. George Bush fought two wars that he felt served the same end; defending an American way of life he strongly believed in, while asserting our right to act unilaterally in pursuit of same. There just isn’t the same sense of conviction with Obama.
Maybe I’m wrong; I hope that I am. I want to believe that being in close proximity to the intelligence to which he is now privy has changed Obama into the sort of leader of which all Americans can be proud; one who has been transformed by witnessing the actions of those who are ready to give their lives for our country and its Constitution. If the rest of America can ever be convinced of that — and not just that he was the right man in the right place at the right time — he might indeed be a candidate to be reckoned with. But don’t bet on it.