The long road home
How Osama bin Laden's death, and life, have changed America
May 5th 2011 | from the print edition
WHAT America needs, Sarah Palin is fond of saying, is a commander-in-chief, not a professor-in-chief. Like many other Republican critics of Barack Obama, the former governor of Alaska ought to be eating her words. Indeed, after the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden, America has discovered that its commander-in-chief is one cool cat. The president issued the order for the attack on Friday April 29th and it was executed on the Sunday. In between, on the Saturday night, a relaxed Mr Obama gave a wisecracking speech at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner. Flashing his toothsome smile, he poked fun not only at Donald Trump, the presidential wannabe who had questioned whether the president was a real American, but also at himself for his professorial ways and tanking poll numbers.
The joke now is on the critics of the president’s foreign policy. In one gloriously mistimed editorial, written just ahead and in ignorance of the raid on Abbottabad, Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, mocked Mr Obama for “leading from behind”. All the Republicans had to do, argued Mr Kristol, was to nominate “a real leader: a workhorse not a show horse; a steady hand not a flip-flopper; a profile in courage not in cleverness; a competent man or woman with strength and confidence in defence of liberty at home and abroad.”