When word emerged Sunday night that President Obama would be making remarks from the White House at 10:30 pm, viewers knew it must be important. When it began to leak that America had finally found and killed Osama bin Laden, there was joy from sea to shining sea.
The nagging pain that this radical Islamic assassin had never received American justice was finally relieved. Crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero to chant joyously "USA! USA!" But for most, it wasn't jubilation. It was the silent fist pump, and a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the safety of our extraordinary military. And a thanks to this president for his leadership in bringing justice to that monster.
Unfortunately, while the president spoke for the whole country in remembering the pain of 9/11, his remarks left a gaping hole. He made no generous bow to all the efforts of his predecessor George W. Bush as well as his team. My one regret is that Bush 43 didn't get this scalp. He deserved it more than anyone.
Instead, Obama played subtle and wholly undignified games. He underlined that Osama had "avoided capture" under Bush and "continued to operate" during his tenure. But "I directed" CIA director Leon Panetta to make getting Osama the "top priority" (as opposed to?), and "I" gave the go-ahead to the final mission. Obama also avoided Bush in a Medal of Honor ceremony on Monday afternoon. Even in a Monday night "bipartisan" event at the White House, Obama honored the "military and counter-terrorism professionals" and "the members of Congress from both parties" who offered support to the mission....but no credit for Bush.
If the roles had been reversed, you know Bush would have been more generous. It's what Bushes do.
What about our media? No one in the media wondered if Obama was being rude. No one seemed in any hurry to give Bush credit, either. In the media's mind's eye, Bush just doesn't deserve it. They didn't like him then, they don't like him now.
Will the media have any apologies for the abuse they inflicted on President Bush over the Osama bin Laden issue? Let's review a few occasions where Bush was unfairly maligned.
1. Start in 2003, where NBC's Bob Costas interviewed radical filmmaker Michael Moore on his HBO show. Moore insisted - quite seriously - there was a Bush-Osama alliance. Costas asked, "He's under the protective watch of the United States?" Moore answered yes. "I think our government knows where he is and I don't think we're going to be capturing him or killing him any time soon." Moore was then further applauded by the Bush-hating media for forwarding that thesis in "Fahrenheit 911."
2. In a puffball 2004 CBS "60 Minutes" interview with John Kerry and John Edwards, Lesley Stahl asked "Ron Reagan Jr. was very critical of President Bush invoking religion when it comes to policy, particularly in the war in Iraq. He said something like he felt that Bush was justifying the war in Iraq by citing God. And he said that is what Osama bin Laden does, and he said that there's no place for that. What do you think of that?"
Kerry replied by merely laying out the Abe Lincoln quote that he hoped to be on God's side. He didn't suggest comparing Bush to Osama was distasteful. Instead, he said, "It is not the job of the president of the United States to decide what the religion of America is or what the religion of the world should be."
3. Days before the election in 2004, when Osama released a tape attacking Bush, former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite went on CNN's "Larry King Live" and insisted with a straight face that Karl Rove "probably set up" this tape with al-Qaeda.
4. In January 2006, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty also insisted Bush colluded with al-Qaeda: "The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows?"
5. In that same month, Chris Matthews asked Bush aide Karen Hughes on Osama's behalf that our military presence in Saudi Arabia was "insulting his country" and was to blame for 9/11. "Are we sometimes to blame for the hell that we've raised?" It was the kind of question the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would likely ask.
Imagine any of these people suggesting an alliance or a similarity between Obama and Osama. Hell would freeze over. Why did our media so easily and carelessly smear Bush with an Osama brush? They still have much to answer for.