Osama bin Laden is dead. Yesterday, I said there was little to say. Today, a few scattered thoughts come below, of varying degrees of seriousness.
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* Last night, everyone was rushing to make grand strategic pronouncements about the implications of killing Bin Laden. Is the War on Terror over? Can we leave Afghanistan (or Iraq) now? Will al-Qaeda strike back stronger than before? I feel like everyone needs to take a deep breath about this, because for most of these questions the only answer is: time will tell.
* Count me in the "pro-celebration" camp. I don't think it is unseemly to celebrate a great American victory, anymore than it was inappropriate to celebrate on V-J Day. Somebody claimed it was "unseemly" for Americans to be acting like we just won the World Cup. I kind of think that killing one of the great terrorist masterminds of the world is a little less frivolous a reason for celebration than winning a soccer match.
* Folks who don't believe Osama is really dead will henceforth be known as "deathers".
* While most folks (across the political spectrum) were on their best behavior last night, there were a few grump-o-sauruses. Spot the differences between the far-right message board nuts, and the Jihadi message board nuts!
* Poll-wise, the CW seems to be "remember George H.W. Bush, who had rocket-high approvals at this point in his presidency due to a major foreign policy victory (winning the Gulf War)." The point is that a bad economy can still take down an incumbent, even one flush with success. Very true, but I want to push back a little. First, I think this is a symbolically bigger deal even than the Gulf War, though maybe that's just a lack of perspective talking. But more importantly, something like this can overcome some polling inertia, starting Obama from a higher base. If the economy tanks, he's still toast. But if the economy is simply "meh", it might not be enough to budge Obama's numbers either way. If, as appears, the trend of the economy is going to be slow improvement going into 2012 -- not enough to set off celebrations, but enough to stem serious electoral bleeding -- this could be a major difference.
* Once I heard Bin Laden wasn't killed by a drone strike but through a human operation resulting in a firefight, I immediately started wondering which video game would make this into a mission first. Seems to fit the Rainbow 6 oeuvre best to me.
* One of the better one-liners I read: "The guy who killed Bin Laden is going to get laid way more than 72 times.
* Another thing folks pointed out -- Obama knew about the operation during the White House Correspondent's Dinner (but obviously didn't know how it would turn out). Cool as the other side of the pillow.
* Meet the guy who accidentally live-tweeted the Bin Laden operation.
* Hamas condemns Bin Laden killing, Palestinian Authority praises it.
* Rep. Peter King (R-NY), whom I typically dislike, was impressively magnanimous -- when being interviewed by CNN, the anchors started talking about how this was a great accomplishment for Robert Gates and Leon Panetta as well as President Obama. Which is true, but Rep. King observed that if this operation went wrong, nobody would be talking about Gates and Panetta, but the Commander in Chief. Which means that since it went right, same rules apply.
* So in the same spirit of bipartisanship, I'll leave you with the words of Mike Huckabee: "Welcome to Hell, Bin Laden."