We must also reaffirm that the United States is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
He did not gloat. Instead, the gloating was done for him around the country, and while people are justified in being satisfied with the Al Qaeda leader's death as a point of closure to horrific events in our history, the current hysteria may look to the world exactly like the joy Islamic militants had demonstrated on 9/11. Obama's calm hopefully countered that image.
The cheers may also signal a blow to the Right, for those jubilant crowds at Ground Zero are the people the Republican Party counted on to destroy Barack Obama. After all, they are cheering Obama's "gutsy" but intelligent strategy. Not...George...Bush's.
And it's very obvious that conservatives across the country are holding back tears of frustration. After all, Bush's "cowboy diplomacy" was an oxymoron: it was no diplomacy at all. His desire to wear a white stetson and go into the Middle East with guns blazing was loutish and engendered more fear of the U.S. than admiration. It was the result of an excuse to annihilate Saddam Hussein, an act of bravado that cost more U.S. lives than were lost on 9/11 and spiraled the economy down into debt. Bush was derided as a brute - history's greatest diplomatic dimwit.
Reactions by Republicans have tried to temper their commendations of Obama with references to Bush:
Eric Cantor: "I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice."
Tim Pawlenty: In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice -- and we did."
Donald Rumsfeld: " All of this was made possible by the relentless, sustained pressure on al Qaeda that the Bush administration initiated after 9/11 and that the Obama administration has wisely chosen to continue."
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And some didn't bother to commend the President at all: reactions eliminating any mention of Obama include Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Darrell Issa, Sen. Marco Rubio to name a few.
Those Amazing Conspiracy Guys
Perhaps the most loyal adherents to cowboy diplomacy are the country's conspiracy theorists: Obama's comparatively restrained militarism helped them paint him as un-American. And on the outset, the publication of the long form birth certificate coupled with Bin Laden's demise should render the brand of un-American moot and pointless. Of course, conspiracy theorists are still having a field day because of the manner in which the body of Bin Laden was disposed of: dumping it in the ocean was not (to them) conclusive. No matter that the comprehensive coverage
of the assault by CBS IN THE WAR ROOM leaves no doubt that Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and other officials viewed the assault in real time. No matter that one woman in the compound made a positive identification of the body. No matter that photos were taken. No matter that positive DNA results were released.
We have Birthers (some refuse to believe the legitimacy of the long form) and now there will be (Bin Laden) "Deathers" as well. Ho hum. We can only hope that all these theorists whose raison d'etre is to "get" Obama at any cost may find their numbers dwindling, not because of the last two events, but because the pile up of conspiracy theories may increase to such a point that the industry itself may implode. Too many jokes founded on too many theories will eventually bore the public and adamant theorists will be looked upon for what they are: rubes who will grasp at anything to discredit him and make him look un-American.
And when that happens, let's hope that they will take cowboy diplomacy along with them. It's too expensive. We can't afford it any more.