See, it works like this. The rule is: Only Republicans are allowed to even mention September 11. Because it happened on their watch, you see. In a rational world, that would count as a demerit—and indeed might have led to George W. Bush’s removal from office, or at least to far more strenuous demands that he offer proof that he took that August 6 PDB seriously. But in the “Americaland” parallel-universe amusement-park ride the GOP took us all on over the past decade, it actually registers a plus, because it gives them the right to speak about how it felt to be in charge on that awful day, how hideously unknowable the burden was, etc. They own, so they believe, the stories, the images, the pain. So they’re allowed to speak for America on the subject in a way they believe Democrats are not.
Given this context, it really grates their cheese that Obama, of all people, is the one who has earned the right to boast about killing bin Laden. Bush had seven years. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, no stone would be unturned in the search, he vowed. A mere few months later, Bush was “truly not that concerned about him.” This was one of the most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever heard a president say. Imagine if Roosevelt had said that in the spring of 1942 about Admiral Yamamoto. Or indeed, imagine if Obama had come into office saying that. He’d have been … I guess I’m not allowed to say crucified, but something close to that. Instead, Obama did the opposite. He actually was concerned about where bin Laden was, and he did the brave thing that Bush notably and demonstrably failed to do.