If I was an American soldier that has served or is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, I would give myself a well-deserved pat on the back. While it was a relatively small group of elite Navy SEALs that stormed Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout and killed the miserable bastard, I would know that my own sacrifice contributed mightily to this mission’s success.
If I was President Obama, I wouldn’t take too much of the credit for this victory. Luckily, his advisers seem to have intuited this path. It simply wouldn’t do to act as if the credit for a thing like this belongs to any one man or any one set of policies. I would sit back and let others give me credit.
If I was Ayman al-Zawahiri, I wouldn’t throw a wild party celebrating my unexpected promotion. I would instead contact my attorney and instruct him to begin revising my will. I would also reach out to the obituary writers at al Jazeera to make sure that they had the details of my wretched little life correct.
If I was a newspaper editor, I would dispatch my reporters to Mike Moran’s house in Rockaway Beach. I would tell them to ask the firefighter, who lost his brother John and twelve of his Ladder 3 colleagues on September 11, 2001, if he regrets never getting a kiss on his royal Irish ass from the now-ventilated bin Laden. (Last week Moran said he did not regret the fact that his RIA would be spared close proximity with the man who murdered his brother and brother firefighters).
If I was a Hollywood producer, I would immediately begin casting next summer’s blockbuster, “The Hunt for Bin Laden.” The SEAL team would be a reflection of our national diversity, our stoic character, and our commitment to all that is good. Denzel Washington would be the commander; Benicio del Toro his trusted officer-in-charge. I’m sure we could find parts for the Harold and Kumar guys.
If I was the director of that film, I would insist on hiring members of the 60s generation as my generals: Peter Fonda, Martin Sheen, James Brolin. This would underscore how far we’ve come from the crippling national embarrassment of Vietnam.
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If I was Ward “Little Eichmans” Churchill, Michael “Fahrenheit 9/11” Moore, or Jeremiah “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” Wright, I’d take my phone off the hook for a week or two. If I was a 9/11 “truther,” I would make an appointment to have my head examined. If I was Toby Keith, I’d think about writing a sequel to that butt-kicking 2002 masterpiece, “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue.”
If I was a widow, orphan, or survivor of 9/11, I would light a candle and say a prayer for my lost loved one. I would tell my children the horrible story of what happened that day, and its lasting legacy on me as an individual and our nation as a whole. I would urge my children to never forget the pain, the heroism, and the pure evil at work that day. I would tell them this so that they could tell their children, and their children’s children, and so on.
If I was an author, I would immediately begin assembling the history of the decade since 9/11. It is eerily appropriate that the perpetrator met his end just before the tenth anniversary of that black day. I would seek to write a meaningful history, one that put into context the tragic arc of a nation at war, not just a blow-by-blow account of events.
If I believed in curses, I would remind the world that the so-called Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” has twin corollaries: “May you come to the attention of powerful people” and “May you find what you are looking for.” I would post on my Facebook page that, by these measures, bin Laden was thrice cursed. I would expect a lot of “Likes.”
If I was a virgin in paradise, I would be lifting weights, trimming my beard, and preparing for the arrival of my first victim: the misguided, murderous, and thankfully now dead, Osama bin Laden.
Matthew Hennessey is Deputy Director of Policy Research at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.