Osama, Obama, and 2012

Obama did what any president should have done. However, because Osama was killed by U.S. forces on Obama’s watch, much of the glory will redound to Obama. But the glory really belongs to the team of Americans who conducted the raid on Osama’s lair, to the intelligence apparatus that led the team there, and to everyone directly involved in command and support of the operation.

The killing of Osama, at this late date, probably will have little or no effect on the operations of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The killing of Obama is a symbolic act of justice, and that’s about all it is. But that, in itself, is worth a lot to any American who abhors the 9/11 attacks for what they were: murderous attacks on innocent persons by cold-blooded fanatics. Anyone who is celebrating today but who said ten years ago that “we asked for it” is a hypocrite who should be wearing sackcloth instead of celebrating.

It remains to be seen whether the almost-certain surge in Obama’s popularity will last. There is much about the man and his policies that deserves deep unpopularity. Yesterday’s events will recede from view before long, and Americans will return to their struggles with unemployment, inflation, intrusive government, and mounting debt. It is those things that most likely will occupy Americans’ minds when they cast their votes in November 2012.

A case in point: Bush senior enjoyed a surge of popularity following the decisive (but incomplete) victory in the Gulf War of 1990-91, but he was nevertheless unable to win re-election in 1992. The third-party candidacy of Ross Perot had a lot to do with Bush’s unseating. But had the election taken place right after the defeat of Saddam’s forces, Bush probably would have won handily. Unfortunately for Bush — and the country — the election took place 20 months later, by which time Americans’ discontent with their economic lot led too many of them to vote for Perot and Clinton.

As Yogi says, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”