My old American Heritage Dictionary defines the word "theater," inter alia, as "a large geographic area in which military operations are coordinated." Throughout World War II, official dispatches and press reports described military action and events in the European, Pacific and China-Burma-India "theaters of war." We now have a new definition, courtesy of our present commander in chief: a place to remind everyone that Osama bin Laden is still dead.
On the anniversary of bin Laden's demise at the hands of U.S. special operators, the Barack Obama re-election campaign made a "surprise" middle-of-the-night visit to Kabul, Afghanistan. According to White House talking points, the purpose of the trip was twofold: "thank the troops" and sign a "historic" strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan's erratic president, Hamid Karzai. It was brilliant political theater in a theater of war.
Since the end of World War II, few military operations have received as much self-congratulatory acclaim by a commander in chief as the operation to kill the head of al-Qaida. Mention of Osama bin Laden's death is a constant in every Obama campaign appearance and fundraiser. Bin Laden's being dead is a staple in Democratic Party direct mail and Internet solicitations and mentioned more often than Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. The topic even creeps into speeches about green energy, health care, the economy and White House meetings with foreign dignitaries.
Republicans complain about the O-Team's hyping bin Laden's death. They cite Vice President Joe Biden's chest-thumping comment that "Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive" as proof that Obama is "overplaying his hand" or "taking too much credit," even "dancing in the end zone." But wait. Every politician running for re-election touts his or her "accomplishments," deserved or not. And face it; killing bin Laden is one of the few real accomplishments of this administration. Anyone who didn't see this "we killed bin Laden celebration" coming knows less about American politics than my Boykin spaniel.
Angst over the O-Team's use of bin Laden's death in the president's re-election campaign is a distraction. Critics -- including Mitt Romney's advisers -- should focus on issues that really are important to protecting the American people. Some recent examples:
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.