WASHINGTON — I in my innocence was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team Six's disruption of Osama bin Laden's bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Barack Obama for "ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar."
The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president's prudent decision to let SEAL Team Six do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in Osama's head.
Then I turned to our nation's newspaper of record, The New York Times. Not once but twice the Times' editorialists departed from heaving confetti to remind us all of George W. Bush, the war criminal. They could have maintained a gentlemanly forbearance. They could have stifled their urge to again vent their hatred of this man and instead join in our national celebration.
Rather, they allowed that little creep that lurks in the back of their minds and serves as a conscience to squeal. All fellow ritualistic liberals have one. It is what lowers every political moment in America, every historic occasion in recent years, to the level of juvenilia. What cads they are!
Now, of course, we know, that Osama was caught precisely because of those much-reviled "enhanced interrogation techniques," including the dreaded "waterboarding" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other barbarians. Such actions led to the identification of the courier who traveled the dusty byroads of Afghanistan and Pakistan to deliver Osama's many bulls and fatwas to his agents.
We also know that the CIA interrogators, whom the Democrats and liberals at the Times wanted to prosecute, spent several years sifting through the information, some reliable some not, to find the one place in this world where the dog Osama was hiding. Doubtless, over these many years, they have been wrong. But this time, they were right, so in the event that some had their careers set back and others destroyed, can we now return these intelligence officers to favor? They performed brilliantly. Maybe we can all get a respite from Hollywood's portrayals of American heroes as brutes.
We also know that our intelligence community resorted to intercepted communications to identify Osama's agents. Some of these communications were probably routed through America. This at some point involved the "domestic wiretapping" that the Times exposed some years ago. Very few complained, for the Times was securing our civil liberties and those of foreign agents. In fact, there was general celebration among the liberals at the Times' heroics. Did that make it all the more difficult to get Osama? Oh, well, Obama got him. As one Jimmy Fallon joked on NBC's "Late Night," "Bin Laden is dead! Just like the Republicans' chances in 2012."
Yet, to answer Mr. Fallon, there is no bump for Obama. Rasmussen reports a one-point bump. Thirty-seven percent of the American people strongly disapprove of our president's behavior. Twenty-four present strongly approve. Over the next few weeks, the White House will continue to make a hash of things, changing its stories, reversing itself on what pictures of the deceased to publish, committing as yet unimagined pratfalls. An incompetent president will continue to be incompetent. The White House is a hell of a place to learn on the job.
One story reported in the news after the operation in Abbottabad suggests the antics we shall be savoring in the weeks ahead. It took Obama 16 hours to make up his mind about the SEALs going in. While around the world the heads of the SEALs' vastly complicated project were on pins and needles, the president went off to sleep on his decision. What would he decide when he awakened?
Reportedly, he informed a national security meeting, "I'm not going to tell you what my decision is now — I'm going to go back and think about it some more." And then he went off to "sleep on it." The next morning he said, "It's a go."
Yet maybe the next time, there will be no go. Many of the techniques used by our military and intelligence people have been outlawed. They were Bush's tactics and they have been discredited, no?
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.