Jonah Goldberg
Killing Osama bin Laden is a strange way to start a presidential campaign season, but that's where we are.

Now, bin Laden wasn't taken out for partisan political reasons. Nor was his death ultimately a partisan policy. With only the most cartoonish exceptions imaginable (a President Kucinich, perhaps), it's inconceivable that any Republican or Democratic president would have passed up the opportunity to kill the world's most wanted man. Killing murderers like bin Laden is simply what U.S. presidents do.

Hence, in a single week, the president put to rest two famous conspiracy theories. The release of his birth certificate delivered a fatal blow to birtherism, figuratively speaking. Meanwhile, the fatal blow delivered to bin Laden, literally speaking, laid to rest the far more insidious idea that the U.S. government was "in on" 9/11. (Though I have no doubt there are those who believe Osama bin Laden was a mere patsy, taken out before he could tell the real story, just as there are those who are convinced that the PDF of Obama's birth certificate is really an elaborate forgery. Toxic conspiracy theories never completely go away, they simply have an ever-decaying half-life).

But Obama also put to rest other fanciful notions about the president's motives. The man who allegedly inherited his father's "anti-colonial" passions ordered the killing of the foremost anti-colonial terrorist in the word. And -- however ineptly -- Obama orchestrated a NATO-led bombing campaign against Africa's most prominent self-proclaimed anti-colonial leader, Muammar Gadhafi.

These and similar actions effectively exonerate him from a host of irrelevant and unhealthy charges. But they do nothing to acquit him from the relevant ones: that he is a too liberal American-born president who has failed to make good on myriad promises or to be a capable steward of the economy. Nor has he, potential bin Laden "bounces" notwithstanding, succeeded at putting America on what the pollsters glibly call "the right track."

It's no surprise that news of bin Ladin's tardy departure for hotter climes has sparked an enormous riot of punditry about whether the president will be able to ride the news to re-election in 2012. Legendary political analyst Barbara Walters opined: "I would hate now to be a Republican candidate thinking of running."

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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