Small Wonders: Political debate only gets nastier

May 13, 2011|By Patrick Caneday

We all remember where we were when…

The stories are the same, yet each unique. I was at home in our apartment getting ready for work that September morning. My wife, six months’ pregnant with our first child, was doing the same. Then came an urgent knock at our door.

“Are you watching this?” our neighbor asked excitedly.

We turned the TV on and watched the images that are now emblazoned upon our national consciousness. We saw the second plane hit, then both towers crumble to the ground.


My wife turned to me with a look of shock and terror I’d never seen.

“What is happening?” she said in a frightened tone that captured the cry of everyone that day.

For a moment we were all united: not Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, Jew or Greek. We were American, and wounded. But it didn’t take long for our paths to veer as we walked into a new age marked by dubious wars, color-coded terror alerts and limited carry-on luggage.

In the moments following the news that Osama bin Laden was shown the door to this world in a hail of bullets, we were united once more. When I heard, I felt like running outside and screaming, “Burn in hell, Bin Laden!” I did something similar when the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot in 2004 on a Steve Finley grand slam.

But this is not sport or game. And images of people chanting in the street over Bin Laden’s death eerily resembled those we see on Al Jazeera when radical factions down an American plane. Such jubilation reduces us and the value of our achievements. Somber reflection and warranted satisfaction should be the response.

But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Not two weeks into a world made better by Bin Laden’s execution and we're at it again. In fact, if you read the blog comments on any news report immediately following his demise, you'll see the mudslinging started within hours.

Look no further than this newspaper's mailbag for conspiracy theorists spinning their imaginative webs, conniving to earn a spot writing espionage plots for tired TV shows.

President Obama got his shot, and he took it. Decisively. And, unlike his two predecessors, he got his man. Mission accomplished. Yet even that isn't good enough for those with opposing agendas. They are thrilled Bin Laden is dead, just not that it happened on this president’s watch.

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