Sunday night about 9:30pm, the news started breaking into all the TV shows. Apparently something big had happened, indeed, as K learned from the texts that started blowing up in the TCU library, Osama Bin Ladin had been found and killed. About an hour or so later President Obama got on TV to announce that indeed the news was true.
In theory, this was a big win for the US in the war on terror, but of course in our 24 hour news cycle, winning elections is the only thing that really matters, so immediately the talk began, was this a big win for President Obama? So jaded by political process, we couldn't even take 10 minutes to reflect on the reality our nation had chosen to assassinate this man, that his death would drag up issues for thousands of Americans whose lives were taken because of his leadership. No, we immediately have to make it political.
Not long after that conversation began of course, the criticism started. I saw it on facebook, from friends who couldn't bear to congratulate the president on the success of the military he commands to those who ripped into him for saying "I" too much.
Whether you support Obama as our president or not, whether you voted for him or not, I think this critique is a fascinating study in leadership. Reading the text of his speech, there are but 2 paragraphs in which he references his role in this event. He identifies in those 2 paragraphs his role as commander in chief to both authorize the following of leads and ultimately authorizing an incursion into another sovereign nation's air space.
Obama took a big risk on Sunday night. Had the helicopters not functioned, had the bunker been empty, had the Pakistani air force shot down a US chopper, had US servicemen died in the incursion, it would have been him standing there taking the failure. When you are the leader, it is you who are on the line. 30 some years ago, another Democratic President had to go on national television and own up to the fact that an incursion into a middle eastern nation's airspace, an incursion intended to free US hostages, had failed. Many attribute his loss in the next election to that failure.
When you are a leader, you have to say "I" a lot. Usually it is in defeat. You take the blame when things go wrong and you should. But occasionally, you get to say "I authorized that" and get a measure of credit for taking a risk. Time will tell if he actually will profit politically from this. And I can honestly say I hope he doesn't. Because this I believe wasn't a "political" move. This was a decision made for the safety and security of the world. It certainly will not free us of violence, for violence cannot possibly accomplish that. But today the world has one less bully in it, and it is because a man who the American people had given the authority to do so, said go. I for one, think we should give him some credit for that and then encourage him to get our economy moving again. Cause at the end of the day, "It's the Economy stupid..." that really matters.