Just a quick thought here before I go to bed. It’s prompted by my (over?) reaction to something someone said on Twitter. He was admonishing partisans on the left and right who were using Bin Laden’s death to make political points. In so many words, he said they should grow up, that an historic event like this one isn’t the time or place. I took issue with that.
I have no stomach for laments over “petty politics” or the divisions that manifest themselves at important moments. In most cases, our differences are not petty. We are divided by deeply-held and opposed points of view. I have spent years listening to warnings about liberals’ “pre-9/11 mentality” and a GOP that insisted it was responsible for “keeping America safe” while rejecting criticism of misguided wars, failing strategies, and unconstitutional policies. The specter of 9/11 and Osamba Bin Laden were evoked again and again to justify or defend decisions that I and many other Americans found utterly repugnant. They were evoked to discredit alternate points of view, to defeat every effort to alter the broad outline of our national security strategy from the template established during the Bush administration.
So when Osama bin Laden is killed during a Democratic administration, the moment is already loaded with implicit partisanship. There is nothing beyond the cold comfort of a murderer’s death around which the country can come together. Every other aspect of this war has been defined by political conflicts that have had very real consequences here and around the world. The illusory unity produced by Bin Laden’s death cannot and should not change that.