Jonathan Freedland (The UK Guardian): Last week, when Barack Obama released his birth certificate to silence those who had long questioned his American identity, he explained that he did not normally respond to such nonsense because “you know, I’ve got other things to do”. Now we know that those “other things” included meticulous planning for an event that could well transform his presidency, reshaping both the way he is seen and the foreign policy he pursues.
… the success of the operation in Abbottabad now makes Obama’s rivals look small indeed, Lilliputians chasing wild fantasies while Gulliver deals with the things that matter. He has rendered even more laughable Donald Trump’s declaration that “I feel proud of myself” for flushing out the proof of Obama’s Hawaiian birth. The president has shown what a true achievement looks like.
For, like it or not, no trophy mattered more to American public opinion … Obama’s role in slaying the dragon may not make him a national hero, but it will take a special kind of stupidity for Republicans to question his patriotism now.
The killing in Pakistan will bury another criticism, rarely articulated explicitly: the suggestion that Obama was somehow insufficiently tough, insufficiently macho, to be America’s commander-in-chief … Crude though it may be, Obama just passed that test with flying colours of red, white and blue.
He did it, though, his own way … he avoided the crass cowboy talk that was a hallmark of the previous administration: the official statement of Saddam’s capture began with the words “We got him”. Obama’s style was, by contrast, measured and steady, recalling 9/11 and speaking movingly of the images of “that September day” that the world did not see, starting with “The empty seat at the dinner table”.
From now on Obama will be viewed slightly differently at home and abroad, his coolness understood to be unflappable and poker-faced, rather than chilly and professorial. One former foreign minister who has seen the president up close believes that Bin Laden’s scalp will lead other world leaders to conclude that, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, “Obama may speak softly – but he carries a big stick”…
…he has scored a valuable victory, one that lifts his own standing but also arrests the gloomy, declinist mood that has gripped some in his country, convinced that American power is on the slide. He has done in two years what his predecessor failed to do in eight. But Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner should stay in the White House basement: al-Qaida remains, the war in Afghanistan is not over, and there is still so much more work to do.
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