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Monday, May 2, 2011

The man who shot Osama Bin Laden

I'm sure that many fascinating details about the raid against Bin Laden's compound just north of the Pakistani capital (what did Pakistani intelligence know and when did they know it?) will emerge in the coming days and weeks. Despite its huge symbolic importance, however, it is unclear how much Bin Laden's death will impact Al Qaeda's terrorist operations around the world, as former CIA agents and other talking heads are already pointing out.

What seems more certain is that this momentous event will have a huge effect on domestic politics in the United States. The far right, Tea Party fringe will have a very difficult time from here on out questioning Barack Obama's patriotism, his seriousness about fighting terrorism, and even his religious background (continued claims that he is a closet Muslim will begin to fall increasingly flat.) And the mainstream Republican Party, which has been riding the coat-tails of the far right's thinly disguised racist assault on Obama, is going to be left with having to argue domestic policies on their merits--or at least, increasingly so.

One might also hope that Obama, whose backbone in the face of right-wing criticism has often turned to jelly, will now be able to buck up and get in touch with his inner liberal--especially as his re-election next year would now seem to be all but assured. At the very least, activists and others to Obama's left should be presented with new opportunities to hold this administration to at least some of the promises it made during the last election.


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