barack-obama_1_web.jpgThere is a lot of chatter over who should get the credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and it is chatter that is obscene and unseemly. But, in these acutely partisan political times, when matters of fact and taste are not an especially valuable commodity, the question is unavoidable. The answer, simply, is: President Barack Obama.

Why? Just consider what would have happened if the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan had gone wrong and our Special Forces members had been killed or captured and put on display for the world to see. On whom would the blame have fallen? Just ask President Jimmy Carter about his noble but failed attempt to rescue the hostages taken in Iran.

So, some people would say that President Obama took a big gamble sending in the Navy SEALs for political gain. Indeed, he is very likely to have earned enormous political capital from the success of Operation Geronimo but that could have not been his motivation because the presidential election is not until fall 2012. Also, while there is undoubted euphoria in the nation over the death of the self-avowed mass murderer, the average American won’t cease being desperate over the loss or potential loss of a home or a job and the urgent need to bring down the cost of gas and, to a growing extent, of food.

The happy mood that is now pervasive will inevitably fade as Americans quickly forget the justice meted out against a criminal whose henchmen committed the heinous attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 10 years ago.

But still it was important to the American psyche that bin Laden had to pay for that crime and the act of retribution that ended his life must not be simply shoved aside just because there is an economic gloom over the land.

Bin Laden came to symbolize the perils of the world in which we live. His death will remove that symbol but not the cause that it represents: horrific terrorism as a means of forcing change. He came to represent a small segment of Muslims who are at war with us. He was not Islam personified; he was a politician who saw mass murder as a means of achieving his end.

He did not succeed, nor will those who come behind him. And there will be others. They will seek to avenge his death by trying to spill more American blood. We applaud President Obama for taking charge of the nearly 10-year search for bin Laden and bringing it to a successful conclusion. His actions and those that he authorized will be recorded as among the greatest moments in the history of our nation.

Yet we must remain vigilant to the threats that continue to play a role in shaping how we live as Americans. The economy will eventually recover. More people will find jobs and buy houses and the price of gas will decline. But we are Americans and that means we shall always be targets.

For this brief moment, at least, we owe it to ourselves to take some comfort in the fact that the man who brought all of this on us – and perhaps more to come – was himself a target and he was taken out.