We Got ‘Em!

Lesley Stahl reflects on Barack Obama’s much-needed triumph

As with any unexpected news story, reaction comes in steps. The first, in this case, is jubilation. As The New York Post said, “We Got ‘Em!” Sometimes when a monster is killed, though, something in you wants him alive – just so you can know he knows he actually lost in the end.

But forget that. The initial reaction is triumphant: a feeling of justice done; of unfinished business dealt with; of a hurtful wound cauterized.

The next step for me was thinking about Barack Obama and luck. If there’s one thing we Americans want and expect from our presidents, it’s that they’re blessed with good fortune, and that they then spray their fairy dust on the rest of us.

When Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office, you got to think the gods had turned against him, with his double-digit inflation and gas lines. You knew he had lost his mantle of heaven when his helicopter mission to recue the American hostages in Iran failed tragically in a sandstorm.

When Ronald Reagan took over, he seemed to be charmed. We often commented on his good luck. The luck of the Irish! It was part of his popularity.

And now President Obama – whose stars seemed to be aligning badly – may have his luck restored. Not a single American casualty in this operation. And he pulled off the mission just when the country most needs a jolt of self-confidence.

The next step for me was to ask: Why’d it take ten years to find OBL? There he was “hiding” not in a cave, but near or on a Pakistani military compound, apparently protected by the very government we’ve been propping up with billions in U.S. aid. Are we chumps?

Don’t answer that.

But my final step is back at the beginning – and that is overjoyedness. I want to go out and shake hands with strangers, my fellow Americans. This is one of those moments we can share without a squabble, without any words at all. Just a smile and a nod. We got ’em. It’s restorative.

31 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Bonnie O says:

    I agree.  This is a moment we can share without political squabbles…. or it should be such a moment, but, unfortunately, it is not.  I have already heard commentary from MSNBC about the political plus for the President while CNN talked about a political bounce in the polls for the President.  There are those who can hardly refrain from using superlatives to describe the President’s actions in tracking down and killing bin-laden.  Okay.  But I do think it was the military who did the tracking down and killing.  The President authorized the mission and for that I am grateful.

    Brennan at the White House said today that they would have captured bin-laden if they could have while Panetta at CIA said the mission was to kill bin-laden.  Whom to believe?  I believe Panetta.

    As for me I thank everyone beginning with former President Bush who said America would track down bin-laden; that it might take years but he could not hide forever.  I thank President Obama for continuing with that policy and not falling back on his legalistic training as to the legality of sending Navy Seals into a soverign nation without permission.  I fear a “senator” Obama would have taken to the Senate floor to raise objections to the mission while at the same time praising the military for following their Commander-in-chief’s orders to perfection. 

    But, most of all, I thank the military.  For almost a decade, they have perservered and suffered in their endeavors to find the terrorist bin-laden and make him pay for 9/11.  As I heard earlier today from a reporter who talked with an individual over at Defense …. they are very happy at DOD that the last thing Osama bin-laden saw before his death were the faces of the men of the USA military.

    Congratulations to all.     

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” – G.W. Bush,  responding to a reporter’s question about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts on March 13, 2002.

  2. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      Fake, but the words are true enough. (can’t believe I didn’t source check that and feel free to mock that one at will; I deserve it.)

    • avatar Pdr de says:

      Kudos to you – I’m relieved he’s gone but others will rush to fill his shoes. I think cheering in the streets because he’s dead smacks too much of all the cheering that took place in the Middle East on 9/11 which, at the time, horrified and angered the citizens of the United States.

      Bin Laden was evil personified – he rejoiced that the Twin Towers crashed to the ground killing far more people than he had anticipated. He thought only the people on the floors above and just below where the planes crashed as well as the passengers on the plane would die. It’s better he’s gone. The problems aren’t over! Everything remains the same except for the fact one very vile, hateful man is no longer alive.

  3. avatar Erika Muller says:

    “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”
    Mark Twain

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    The politics of this are as offensive as the jokes to those who lost people they loved on 9/11 – the deaths of those who died on  9/11 simply have finally, and properly, been avenged. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • avatar KarenR says:

      and the beat goes on

      one disturbing point – give the celebrating crowds AK-47s and they’ll look a lot like so much footage we see from the Middle East – I’m afraid many of the college aged kids who were young on 9/11 are lost to a mindset of lower ideals

  5. avatar Maizie James says:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me; why the killing of Bin Laden fails to arouse celebration within me even though he committed horrendous acts of terrorism against the US and her allies. Instead, I feel oddly conflicted about US sanctioned murder of evil villains. It seems a flawed philosophical premise to embrace ‘just murder’ in a government that revers human life/rights and justice as the higher moral goal instead of revenge, or an eye for an eye. Worse, I worry about the inherent hypocrisy and justification of murder, and the consequences of retaliation, based on Anti-American sentiment.

    Yes. Bin Laden was evil. Yet, I can’t bring myself to bring out the champagne to celebrate like spectators heckling in the stands of the gladiator arenas in ancient times.

    • avatar Kathy Ackerman says:

      Maizie, I too can’t celebrate this death. I think there are more of us than even we realize.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Avenging the deaths of innocents is not revenge.  They danced in the streets. Now we have danced int he streets. Perhaps some will finally get it. Perhas some will not.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      I think because we saw crowds of Middle Easterners celebrating the deaths on 9/11 and thought they appeared barbaric, some of us find celebrating bin Laden’s death, despite his evil, also barbaric. Was killing bin Laden murder, or an act of war? And was this death more practical than keeping him in custody for years and then trying him — all the while trying to figure out how to keep his jailers, judge and jury safe while carrying out their jobs? No option was a good one. But what occurred is probably the most pragmatic option.

  6. avatar Maizie James says:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will
    not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.
    Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper
    darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot
    drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot
    drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

    No. I could not confirm is this quote is authentic. If MLK didn’t say it, I agree with it nonetheless.

    • avatar KarenR says:

      A Detroit columnist looked into this going viral. The first line is not MLK’s but the rest is from one of his sermons.


    • avatar Pdr de says:

      Martin Luther King, Jr. did indeed make this statement on August 16, 1967 in a sermon entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” A very wise man, Dr. King. We need him badly! Dr. King and Gandhi – men of peace. It should be painfully evident by this time that war, killing one another, destroying lives, homes and businesses resolves nothing!

  7. avatar central coast cabin home says:

    I so hear you Maizie but then I have felt that way since 9/11. PLEASE, I realize that I am from the West Coast and, I was-not-there, but other atrocities on a much more global level far surpass 9/11. The ethnocentricity of 9/11 galls me, me who tears up at every color guard in any parade across America and have prayed for all who suffered 9/11. Take the blinders off America and see beyond your comfortable wee space!

  8. avatar Rosemary Butt says:

    you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you….so that you may be children of your father in heaven, for he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous, for if you love those who love you , what reward do you have? If you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?

  9. avatar Rosemary Butt says:

    But, having quoted the bible, I am a human with human failings, I am glad he is gone from this earth, hopefully with time, some of his followers will think how much better this world with be if we ALL turned the cheek. I loved being an American because we were founded on the premise of freedom from whatever, but now too many are trying to make us a christian nation, just like the Muslims want the world to be Muslim. So I guess we are becoming just as warped as Bin Laden and his followers are. We are each responsible for our own Souls, we are not responsible for others Souls.

  10. avatar isa says:

    Some of the 9/11 families have come together and founded a group called “common dreams”.  Yesterday they posted this statement, 


    • avatar isa says:

      The 9/11 families group is called “families for a peaceful tomorrow”, which was posted by commondreams.org

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        And I doubt they were dancing in the streets.  It is natural to want to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. It brings closure. But sometimes there is evil within the good.

        One of the harshest realities of Osama bin Laden is that while his actions cannot be defended by anyone, his words that followed the actions nonetheless were truth – we cannot continue to plunder nations as if their resources along to us alone nor can we continue to install leaders in those nations who oppress their people while we plunder their resources.

        Those who believe it is our right to do so will join Osama bin Laden in the fires of hell.

        • avatar Pdr de says:

          Well said! We were first guilty of doing that here in the United States when we slaughtered and relocated thousands of Native Americans so we could have their land. If something valuable was found on “their land” we moved them again. Greed, envy and money are the root of all evil.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            The Great White Man and his Great White God granting dominion over the earth and all those creatures of the earth who are here solely to serve the Great White Man and his Great White God.

  11. avatar Shelley Ackerman says:

    I’m with Kathy A:
    Bin Laden should have and could have been gotten a LONG time ago, but then again The Bush administration would have been hard-pressed to come up with excuses to invade two countries. And BTW, what is WowOWow’s issue with spelling our president’s name correctly? It’s Barack (Not Barak) 🙂

  12. avatar crystalclear says:

    Clinton missed an opportunity, too, and we can all say “should’ve could’ve would’ve” all day long  but the fact is Osama bin Laden is dead.   Many measures were put in place by our previous administration to bring bin Laden to this fate and I am very happy that President Obama kept these measures in place.   That was a very good move on his part.   Actually, Obama realized that GITMO could not be closed after he took office.   Before that, he had no frame of reference.     GITMO produced valuable information.   Now on to capturing the rest of our home grown defectors!

    Now we should focus on Afghanistan, our troops and Pakistan and their many costly flaws to the United States. We send them $1 billion a year to the tune of $6 billion for harboring the enemy for 6 years.     How will President Obama address these two issues?   That will be the true measure of his accomplishments in foreign affairs.

  13. avatar Mahulda Fite says:

    This is not “Obama’s triumph” and he did not “pull off any mission”. He gave the order on actionable intelligence. Seal team 6 are the heroes, it is their triumph. This has been their mission since 9/11. Finally, they get a good lead–all Obama has to do is OK it–not to do so–as Clinton did previously–would have been political suicide. Knowing Obama, he probably didn’t want to do it but was forced.

  14. avatar crystalclear says:

    Buzz is in the air that we should now leave Afghanistan.  

  15. avatar Bella Mia says:

    The Confusion is pouring forth fast and furious from the White House. Here’s what’s change since Sunday.

    The story when it started vs the story as it is today :
    1. BinLaden has been captured and killed and we have proof VS we won’t show the proof
    2. We watched it live VS there was no live feed video
    3. Obama ordered the kill VS Panetta ordered the kill
    5. Obama planned the kill himself VS he took more than 16 hrs to green light the kill planned by others
    6. OBL’s wife was killed VS his wife was hit in the leg and captured
    7. OBL hid behind his wife VS his wife attacked the SEALS
    8. OBL was shot once VS he was shot twice
    9. OBL was armed VS he was unarmed
    10 OBL had guards outside VS there were no guards
    11 Obama gave the speech to American people VS the pic were staged of him walking to the lecturn,

    What does all this chaos coming from the people who were in the same room, tell us about this White House?

    Making the appearance at Ground Zero seems dangerous and unreasonable. Talk about a fresh target – Ground Zero would be it.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      What does it tell us? I suspect it tells us that those in the White House are getting different stories from those who were in the compound. Sounds like it’s the Navy SEALS who can’t get their stories straight.  Not the people in the White House.

      I’d like to more more about this  “we knew about the compound in 2007 but assumed bin Laden didn’t live there.”  So who did they assume lived there? And let’s see. Who was in the White House in 2007. Oh, Mr. “bin Laden is not our priority” Bush.

      So many stories. So many lies.  Same old, same old.   Liars all.  

    • avatar isa says:

      “Making the appearance at Ground Zero seems dangerous and unreasonable. Talk about a fresh target – Ground Zero would be it.”

      Maybe President Barack Obama does not harbor the same fears as lots of people do.  Maybe President Barack Obama’s courage lies more in his heart rather than just in his ….for a lack of a better word…gonads.