What if it had failed?
What if the daring decision of President Obama one year ago this week to deploy the now mythic Seal Team Six to finally take out Osama bin Laden – the architect of the September 11, 2001 attack on this country – had ended in catastrophe for America?
If that clandestine raid of bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan – where he hid essentially in plain sight in the small town of Abbottabad – it wouldn’t have only been a catastrophe for America, it would have been politically catastrophic for the Obama presidency.
The Republicans who with titanic hypocrisy lamented the politics of the one year anniversary of the killing of bin Laden – and the president’s mastery of the moment – would have ripped him to shreds with great glee, IF he had failed. And that failure would have almost assuredly sealed his fate as a one term president.
But, he didn’t; Obama’s big gamble paid off and America won. Osama bin Laden ultimately ended up at the bottom of the ocean with a bullet in his head.
“For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s leader and symbol,” said President Obama in a televised speech to an ecstatic nation. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al-Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that Al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad,” he said.
But, so much could have gone wrong on that fateful night in Pakistan and for that reason many of the most experienced and trusted members of President Obama’s cabinet advised him to stand down.
Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all essentially said `no.’
President Obama literally stood alone.
He said the mission to kill bin Laden was, “the longest 40 minutes of my life.” And they were 40 minutes wrought with peril for all involved, from the heroic men in Abbottabad to the man who made the call in the situation room in Washington, D.C.
It was his call and his call alone and he made it.
Now the Republicans led by Mitt Romney, the president’s presumptive opponent in November accuse him of “spiking the ball,” one year after the death of bin Laden.
They accuse the president of, “playing politics.”
Well, what would the Republicans do?
We know what President George W. Bush did at the onset of the second Gulf War, and it can be described in two words; “Mission Accomplished.”
Romney begrudges President Obama this moment and he decries the politics of it.
Then he literally cries foul when the president questions whether Romney would have had the guts or the acumen to make the same call.
Romney is the same man who ham-handedly said Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon during an Obama second term and they would not obtain a nuclear weapon during a Romney presidency.
Romney is the same man who on the one-year anniversary of the death of bin Laden showed up at a firehouse in lower Manhattan that lost 11 men during the terrorist attacks on 911 with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and an armful of pizzas.
Yet, Romney accuses the President of the United States of playing politics?
Of course President Obama is playing politics as every president since George Washington has done.
Pat Buchanan –of all people – once said President Obama was one of the greatest political athletes he has ever seen. And he plays the game with the elan of Magic Johnson.
Over the course of many years prior to that terrible Tuesday in September 2001 I made the sojourn from Baltimore up 95 North to New York dozens of times, because even though I loathe the Yankees I love New York.
And every single time I crossed out of New Jersey and closed in on the Holland Tunnel I glanced to my right to catch the awe-inspiring sight of the Twin Towers rising above the island of Manhattan. And every single time I had the same visceral reaction like a shot of adrenaline awakening me to the fact I was about to enter the greatest city in the world.
On that terrible Tuesday in September 2001 bin Laden’s henchmen knocked down the Towers, killed 3,000 people and changed life in America forever.
But, now the man who crafted that diabolical plot – who evaded us for 10 long years after 911 – is gone too.