ChrisWeigant.com

Any Channel

[ Posted Monday, May 2nd, 2011 – 17:00 PDT ]

To me, the most momentous phrase in the American lexicon is when a friend calls up and says some version of the following:

"Turn on your television... to any channel."

This is a scary phrase, for the most part, because of what it implies: some momentous event has not only happened, but all the television networks have switched over to live coverage of the news. You switch on your TV, and you don't even have to hunt for whatever's going on, because there it is on all of the possible serious channels. Last night, America had another of these moments.

What made it different than all the other such "any channel" moments in the past decade, though, was that the news was not bad. We did not hear about a natural disaster occurring, we did not hear about a space shuttle disintegrating, and we did not hear about a war starting. Instead, we heard about the death of America's number one sworn enemy, Osama Bin Laden. While realizing that "celebrating" anyone's death is not just a little bit unseemly, it was hard to see last night's news as anything but good for the United States of America.

A quote making the rounds online sums it up pretty well: "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction." This thought may have come from either Clarence Darrow or Mark Twain, but whoever penned it originally did a nice job of describing the mood of many Americans when they heard the news of Osama Bin Laden's death.

Killing one man isn't going to change the world overnight. Al Qaeda still exists, and Bin Laden may have been more of a figurehead than the actual brains behind the organization. But, again, it's hard to see how Bin Laden's death isn't good news for America and bad news for the Al Qaeda organization. Burying him at sea was the most brilliant part of the operation, because it denies his followers a shrine to make pilgrimages to in the future.

The real question, in terms of consequences, will be how it changes the war in Afghanistan. This is something that, right now, is impossible to foresee. Al Qaeda is not the Taliban, nor vice versa. The fighting in Afghanistan, and the drone attacks in Pakistan, may simply go on much the same as if Bin Laden were still alive. The fight may get easier for the United States, and it may get harder -- like I said, at this point it is impossible to do any more than speculate.

Politically, taking Bin Laden out is obviously going to help President Obama, but my guess is that this will be more of a "background" thing, and not (as some are already prematurely proclaiming) a guarantee of his re-election. The 2012 election is a long way off, and Americans have a very short memory, for the most part. The political implications for Obama may be subtle -- a short bump in the polls, perhaps followed by more people (especially independent voters) being a bit more willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. But it's not going to change the upcoming budget fights with Republicans much -- I think it'll be much more nuanced than that.

Americans do normally rally around the president in momentous times, both good and bad. There will be a period where this plays out, for the next few weeks. Obama was right last night, too -- this is an American thing, it's not a "Democrat versus Republican" thing. Neither side should -- in any way, shape, or form -- try to use Bin Laden's death in a political way. Most likely, neither side will (except for the fringes on both sides, perhaps). Even Rush Limbaugh said some mighty nice things about President Obama on his show today -- this shows the depths of how the entire event affects all Americans as one.

Our country as a whole was attacked, almost ten years ago. No political party was attacked, no political faction was targeted more than any other. The very idea of our nation was attacked, instead. This is how we saw the attacks when they happened, and this is how we should treat the bookend of Osama Bin Laden's death as well.

Last week, I wrote an article which posed the question: "Should America Assassinate?" Written to take a look at the moral justifications for America targeting individuals, it engendered a lively discussion over what constitutes "assassination" and what is a "valid military target." I claim no inside knowledge of the events in Pakistan, instead I was spurred to write the article because of the situation in Libya. But I did use Bin Laden as an example, when I wrote:

Jumping forward to today's world, I don't think anyone would argue that (for instance) targeting Osama Bin Laden with a cruise missile wouldn't be justifiable. It would indeed be an assassination (under a loose definition) of a single man by the United States military, but this man has already attacked us directly -- even if he is not a political figure or head of state. My guess is that few tears would be shed in America if we were to take Bin Laden out in this fashion, and few people would even bring up the morality of assassinating individuals in the resulting discussion afterwards. In fact, we have tried to kill Bin Laden in such a fashion already, under President Bill Clinton.

Now that this has come to pass, I stand by what I wrote. Bin Laden was about as valid a military target as you can imagine. He reveled in his status as America's number one enemy. He's the one who personally declared war on us, not the other way around. President Obama reportedly decided not to bomb the compound flat, but rather chose the more risky direct assault, because he knew how important proof that we had gotten our man to the rest of the world (and to Al Qaeda itself). But, had Obama chosen cruise missiles instead, I don't think I would have felt any differently today.

Today is a day where America breathes a collective sigh of relief, in perfect unison. For once, the news on "any channel" was good news. Instead of seeing a deadly fire, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, or hurricane, we saw our president telling us that America had achieved a long-held goal. Instead of seeing news of some horrible accident of a space shuttle disaster, all of America paused to hear: "We finally got him." Osama Bin Laden was America's sworn enemy, and had declared war upon us all. Three thousand people died ten years ago because of this man's twisted mind. Now he's gone, and I think we all personally heard his "obituary" with great pleasure.

 

[Program Note: We had our monthly "Obama Poll Watch" column scheduled for today, but it was decided to bump it to Wednesday, for obvious reasons.]

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

23 Comments on “Any Channel”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    No matter what you think you've done
    You'll find it's not enough
    No matter what you think you know
    You won't get through
    It's a given, L.A. law
    Someone's faster on the draw
    No matter where you hide
    I'm comin' after you

    Now matter how the race is won
    It always ends the same
    Another room without a view
    Awaits downtown

    You can shake me for a while
    Live it up in style
    No matter what you do
    I'm gonna take you down

    Shakedown, breakdown, takedown
    Everybody wants into the crowded light
    Breakdown, takedown, your busted

    Let down, your guard, honey
    Just about the time you figured it's alright
    Breakdown, takedown, your busted

    This is a town where everyone
    Is reaching for the top
    This is a place where second best will never do
    It's O.K. to want to shine
    But once you step across that line
    No matter where you hide
    I'm comin after you

    Shakedown, breakdown, takedown
    Everybody wants into the crowded light
    Breakdown, takedown, your busted
    Shakedown, breakdown, honey
    Just about the time you figured it's alright
    Breakdown, takedown, your busted

    -Bob Seger

    OK, I know it's corny, but I have been playin' that song all day!! Well, that one and Toby Keith's COURTESY OF THE RED WHITE AND BLUE :D

    They're so apropos....

    In the spirit of the commentary and it's complete AMERICANS FIRST attitude, I'll refrain from any partisan sniping... :D

    Michale.....

  2. [2] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Celebrate bin gone, BIN GONE! ?? There's a celebration...

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Should have posted this earlier -

    Just wanted to acknowledge Elizabeth Miller here, for pointing that quote out to me. The Twain quote is only "attributed," but the Clarence Darrow cite actually points to something he wrote, so I threw both names in there (and used the version from Darrow).

    Anyway, just wanted to give credit where it is due, and say "Thanks, Liz!"

    :-)

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    dsws wrote:

    yay Liz

    On the political side, I'm not so sure about the unilateral disarmament thing. The immediate response to 9/11 was to pass tax cuts for the rich, and everything else on George W. Bush's domestic agenda. You can bet that if bin Laden had lived until another Republican was in office, and had been shot by Navy SEALs then, the Republicans would have taken the opportunity to rush another round of deregulation and corporate welfare through Congress. Of course we should be better about politicizing such things than they are, but there's a lot of room between barely-better-than-them and completely foregoing any effort to gain advantage.

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    Ack. "Foregoing" means before. The one I wanted is properly spelled "forgoing".

  6. [6] 
    akadjian wrote:

    CW-

    Last week's column on assassination: Coincidence or inside knowledge?

    :)

    I had to say I had to wonder for a brief second at the timeliness.

    -David

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Chris,

    Actually, it was Matt who, commenting in your latest FTP column, provided a link to a blog (http://www.osborneink.com/2011/05/obama-offs-osama.html) where a commenter had pointed out this quote.

    BashiBazouk actually highlighted this commenter’s post including that quote and I was just agreeing with Bashi’s take on it all.

    But, in any event, it’s a great quote and altogether fitting as applied to the demise of bin Laden at the extraordinarily capable hands of US Navy SEAL Team six and all of the actions taken by other military and intelligence officials lead by President Obama and his national security team.

    Bravo!

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    In my eyes, the collective intelligence of the world has dropped considerably...

    "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"
    -Ripley, ALIENS

    World media is questioning whether or not the killing of Bin Laden was legal..

    Can ya believe that!!???

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    Whoops! Well, now, I'm glad I didn't put the credit in the article itself, because I would have blown it!

    OK, let's start over.

    Just wanted to acknowledge Osborne Ink and BashiBazouk here, for pointing that quote out to me. The Twain quote is only "attributed," but the Clarence Darrow cite actually points to something he wrote, so I threw both names in there (and used the version from Darrow).

    Anyway, just wanted to give credit where it is due, and say "Thanks, Matt and Bashi!"

    :-)

    Everybody GO VOTE FOR MATT!!!

    http://democracyforamerica.com/netroots_nation_scholarships/1071-matt-osborne

    MATT NEEDS YOUR VOTE - voting ends soon...

    -CW

  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Haven't seen that yet, but just had to say: great Ripley quote.

    Talk about obscure, I got a "Brawndo" quote over on Huffpost, and I had to look it up to figure out what the guy was talking about...

    Anyway, my favorite Aliens quote from Ripley:

    "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

    Heh. And I'm a peaceable guy, too, but that line is the turning point in the whole movie...

    -CW

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Haven't seen that yet,

    Here ya go...

    Justice, American Style
    Was Bin Laden's Killing Legal?

    spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,760358,00.html

    How pathetic is that???

    And then there's this...

    Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission
    dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1383010/Osama-Bin-Laden-dead-Obama-took-16-hours-make-mind.html#ixzz1LJkz0f2d

    Holy frack!!!!

    Give the guy a break!! It's a momentous decision...

    Bin Laden had been at the compound for 6 years... The chances of him leaving overnight were slim to none and Slim just logged off...

    Bush would have probably "slept on it" as well...

    Sometimes it IS important to be deliberative...

    And don't think I don't recognize the irony of me defending Obama!!! :D

    Anyway, my favorite Aliens quote from Ripley:

    "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

    Heh. And I'm a peaceable guy, too, but that line is the turning point in the whole movie...

    Definitely...

    ALIEN might have set a standard for scary outer space movies, but ALIENS was BY FAR the best of the quadrilogy....

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    MATT NEEDS YOUR VOTE - voting ends soon...

    OK, I added my vote for Matt.. :D

    I'll drag the family into it if it's needed to get him over the top.... :D

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Meant to post this earlier. Since you quoted some America music, I couldn't resist. The song I thought of comes from hippies, but I bet you'll actually like it.

    The KBC Band, back in the 1980s, had a song with a great video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxnsmRl8x14

    that I think you'll like. That's KBC as in "Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jack Cassidy," three original members of Jefferson Airplane. But you're still going to like the video, I'll bet 500 quatloos on that.

    :-)

    Enjoy.

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Check out the Reviews of OBL's Secret hideout and B&B. The internet can be so rude...

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    BashiBazouk -

    "How wude!"
    -JarJar Binks

    Heh. Where are all the good Osama Bin Laden jokes? In this case, the "Is it too soon?" question simply does not apply, I would think...

    -CW

  16. [16] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Or, alternatively, you might check out "Suite Madame Blue" by Styx. Pre-"Come Sail Away" Styx wasn't actually all that bad... and this was one of their opuses (opusii?). Google it, again, you won't be disappointed.

    -CW

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    The KBC Band, back in the 1980s, had a song with a great video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxnsmRl8x14

    That was an AWESOME video!!! Thanx...

    That's KBC as in "Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jack Cassidy," three original members of Jefferson Airplane.

    after killing some pretty horrible and unknown monsters
    Bobby Singer: "You found them, you get to name them."
    Dean Winchester: "OK.... 'Jefferson Starships'. Because they're horrible and their hard to get rid of."
    -SUPERNATURAL

    :D

    "How wude!"
    -JarJar Binks

    I picture the day where CW.COM is nothing but Movie/TV quotes... :D

    Kinda like that episode of ST:TNG where the alien's language was solely based on cultural references..

    On another note...

    Onondaga Nation leaders blast 'Geronimo' codename for Bin Laden
    http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/onondaga_nation_leaders_blast.html

    As soon as I read what Bin Laden's codename was, I KNEW that there would PC types who would have a beef about it..

    After reading their side of it, I have to admit that they do make a good point..

    As sensitive the Obama administration has been to race/minority relations, I would have thought they would have come up with a more suitable codename for Bin Laden..

    Perhaps "Asshole"... Or "Frakin' Psycho"

    I'm just sayin'.....

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Because ... it's funny.

    http://i.imgur.com/KDssc.jpg

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Because ... it's funny.

    http://i.imgur.com/KDssc.jpg

    "It's funny because it's true...
    -Homer Simpson

    :D

    Michale......

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, there is a big hullaballo about releasing Bin Laden's death photo..

    But at least the Obama administration released Bin Laden's last FaceBook post..

    "BRB... Someone's at the door"

    :D

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "BRB... Someone's at the door"

    Buahahahahah ... nice

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, I have to say that I am really getting sick and tired of all the second guessing...

    Who fired what, who was armed or not, who was frakin' sittin' on the can is completely and utterly irrelevant...

    Bin Laden got taken down.. THAT is all that matters..

    I felt the same way with all the Jessica Lynch crap...

    WHO CARES if every 'T' is not dotted and every 'I' is not crossed...

    The good guys went in, did their jobs, killed some scumbags and got out...

    THAT's the only important fact...

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    dsws wrote:

    World media is questioning whether or not the killing of Bin Laden was legal..

    Can ya believe that!!???

    Sure. Even if everyone agrees that it was justified, law is full of restrictions on well-justified actions.

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