Osama Bin Laden was the bane of the Bush administration, and his death may just prove the savior of Obama’s administration. If Obama plays his cards right, this could get him a tipping point on the reelection scale. I do not like the four year terms of the US presidents–they are really too short to do anything meaningful and their actions can be undone rather easily (as the Republicans in Congress strongly like to hint). Even though Obama has done some questionable things, he hasn’t been horrifically bad, and I’d like to give him time to make good on his promises, many of which I think should be given time to be developed and tested.
Further implications beyond Obama’s reelection? Well, Bin Laden was a symbol of the Al Qaeda movement, and so Al Qaeda will be stalled a bit and demoralized, that is, if there’s not a sizable saint movement happening for him and another charismatic and strong leader waiting in the wings– but these reactions will take time to formulate. America is the one that has momentum now, and it can further cement its allies’ commitment to fighting Al Qaeda (“hey! we did it! we killed him! we actually have purposes in fighting wars!”). The drone attacks in Pakistan may seem less controversial in the US for the time being as well. We will definitely regain some of that old American swagger in international politics and perhaps this will be reflected in a more aggressive military policy. There is a lot to consider, and as just a lowly undergraduate who can only think of questions and can only inadequately provide vague answers, I suggest you read The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times tomorrow morning for Op-Eds and analysis.
My general reaction watching the Obama’s statement:
Appearance: Obama was wearing a red tie, and he was in a hallway with red carpet. There was no one with him. He walked in by himself and walked out by himself. This ties in with the theme of him being the lone commander-in-chief; he even said, “I gave the direction…” and “I ordered…”–though this is a group effort, Obama focused on his part. Interesting. Subtle reelectioneering? Or paranoid Michelle?
Demeanor: Obama was not looking at the camera while speaking. I’ve been told this is because he looks more ‘respectable’ and ‘handsome’ from a certain angle. Obama is also known for being a cool intellectual, and he certainly was that here. He was not angry, he was not even happy. He was mature, like he knew all along this would happen. And as the adult in the room, he reminded us that despite Bin Laden’s death, we need to still be vigilant. However, I wish he was more reassuring and paternal rather than the strict uncle.
International Relations: Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, and Pakistan has been an uncertain ally of the US. Obama reaffirmed their good relationship, and then branched onto Islam. Personally, I believe this part on Islam was most important, that America is “not at war with Islam” because we often get portrayed like that, to our huge detriment. We have no real allies in the Middle East (Egypt? Israel?). If there’s one world relationship America can improve tremendously, it’s Middle East. China can ignore us at Copenhagen, but the Middle East wouldn’t even bother to show up.
Bush comparison? The biggest thing that struck me was the difference between Bush’s seemingly precipitous decision-making process and Obama’s meticulous process that apparently took months. Subtle reelectioneering? You bet. Anything to get The Trump from holding office.
Speech quality: on the high end, but I wouldn’t say a classic rhetorically. No major doctrinal introductions, no major memorable phrase (“justice has been done”… I half expected “justice has been served!”). It will be a classic because of the subject matter, though. Ending with the pledge is genius. Obama opened with the concept of the one American family, and he reverts to one thing that all American citizens (should) know: the pledge.
I am sure all these analyst monkeys at WSJ, Economist, & NYTimes are working at breakneck speed now. This monkey blogger here will read all 495886 opinions tomorrow. And maybe write a blog post on it.
Click to see my original notes as I watched the live statement– if that sort of thing interests you: