Over the last few days I have been watching and listening closely to the post bin Laden talking points from both the Left and the Right and have come to one final conclusion: their isn’t a toxic waste dump big enough to throw most of them into.
The chest thumping on the Left has been deeply embarrassing to me personally. As a progressive, I have always taken great solace in knowing that for the most part my side, while certainly no stranger to zealousness, at least had integrity and truth on its side. A bit too high-minded and lofty, perhaps, for its own good, and definitely lacking that essential ingredient of pragmatism needed to win the political skirmishes its opponents kept prevailing in, but no matter. Despite the frustration, I always slept well at night.
That is until this week. The last few days have made my skin crawl. The Left has taken this bittersweet moment in American history and turned it into a freakish sideshow. Not even Barnum would’ve been so brazen and callous. How bad was the gloating on MSNBC? I was actually forced to watch CNN, that’s how bad. Between Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz, I damn near threw up. I expect such deplorable acts of grandstanding on Fox News; I don’t expect them on MSNBC.
While most of the media focused, and correctly so, on the superb job the Navy SEALs did in the operation, MSNBC spent the bulk of the week making this all about Obama and his courage, wisdom and guts. While the President deserves credit for making the right call at the right moment, making what he did out to be the greatest military action since Sherman’s march to the sea is absurd. When Obama made the decision to ostensibly follow most of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy virtually hook, line and sinker, the Left lit him up like a firework’s display on the Fourth of July. Now that one of those policies – enhanced interrogation perhaps – appears to have netted something tangible, it can’t wait to wrap it up in one of its flags. The disingenuousness of the motives behind their selective amnesia is obvious, self-serving and revolting.
But if you thought the hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement on the Left was bad enough, the Right’s deplorable conduct went above and beyond even their usual loathsome extremes. To hear them, Obama might as well have been the water boy – yes I use that word and not as a pun – for George Bush. It was Bush who had the guts to respond to the attacks of 9/11 by sending in troops to Afghanistan and toppling the Taliban, thus forcing bin Laden into Pakistan where Obama was finally able to nail him; ergo it was Bush who deserves virtually all the credit for last Sunday’s mission. A real mission accomplished if ever there was one. Yes, that was meant to be ironic.
Of course the fact that bin Laden was able to make his way into Pakistan in the first place was due directly to Bush’s decision to pull a substantial number of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan to fight his fraudulent war in Iraq. We had him trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora. He escaped because we got distracted. Funny how that little bit of news never seems to find its way onto the Fox News Channel or the AM talk-radio shows. But then that would just ruin the whole damn narrative, wouldn’t it? Can’t have that. Why spoil a perfectly good fairytale with something so inconsequential as facts?
And speaking of facts, if I may, I’d like to “spin” my own yarn as it were, just to set the record straight. First, both sides need a serious time out and a good shower to cleanse themselves of the crap that has permeated every pore of their collective consciousness. As I said on Monday, we got the bastard. It’s a good day to be an American, regardless of whether you call yourself a Democrat or Republican or whatever. Second, the real heroes are the rescue workers who risked – and in some cases lost – their lives by running into the towers on 9/11, as well as the Navy SEALs who carried out the mission that killed bin Laden. Any number of things could’ve gone terribly wrong, resulting in disaster. Instead, everything came together and a grateful nation celebrated.
And finally, it’s time to give this president at least some measure of credit for doing something right. By insisting on a special ops mission instead of a drone attack, Obama made sure the world knew we got the right guy. And yes we got him. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, the DNA matched. Yes, I’d like to see the photos, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it if I don’t. Fact is, Obama may be a little too calm and collected for our tastes sometimes, and a tad bit emotionally detached as well, but when we needed the ice water that flows through his veins most, we got it. That “poise” sure came in handy Sunday, didn’t it?
The irony of the Obama Administration has been that its harshest critics have come from both flanks of the political spectrum. The Left sees him as a corporatist sellout; the Right as a socialist ideologue. Never has a sitting president been subjected to such ignominy as this one. And now, even in a moment of genuine celebration, both camps can't resist the urge to make it all about him, can they?
Somebody pass me the barf bag.
And so we are left with a bittersweet moment to reflect once more on what happened to us, how we recovered and, more importantly, how we move forward as a nation. The fact that Osama bin Laden is dead closes but one chapter in a very sordid and complicated book. It’s a book that chronicles a nation still defining its position in a world that is ever changing and dynamic. How well that nation – America – adapts to this world will go a long way towards determining whether it will thrive as a leader, or sail off into the same sunset that consumed so many other empires of the past.