How Obama's focused, hands-on pursuit of Osama Bin Laden paid off.
Elsewhere in Slate, Daniel Byman analyzes the future of Al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden, Anne Applebaum applauds America's use of human intelligence over expensive technologies, and William Saletan uncovers some holes in the raid narrative. Also, David Weigel describes the scene outside the White House following Obama's announcement, Christopher Hitchens questions the United States' practice of giving financial aid to the Pakistani military, and Brian Palmer examines Bin Laden's burial at sea. For the most up-to-date-coverage, visit the The Slatest. Slate's complete coverage is rounded up here.
In his remarks announcing the operation, the president sought to rekindle that feeling, but he went further. He made the latest in a series of paeans to the American spirit. Under assault from conservatives who say he does not believe in the idea of American exceptionalism, Obama took the opportunity to reiterate his belief in the unique qualities of his countrymen:
Today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. … Tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place. Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thus did the president both answer his conservative critics and rise above them. Yes, he was saying, I do believe in American exceptionalism—and so should any terrorist who would wish America ill. All in all, it was a good night to be president.
Video: President Obama announces the death of Osama Bin Laden
Correction, May 2, 2011: This article originally described the compound as being 35 minutes outside of Islamabad and, later, 90 miles from Islamabad. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)
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