Osama bin Laden, 1957-2011

May 3, 2011

binladen

First, can we stop with the criticism that the President is namby-pamby on national security? That corpulent drug addict Rush Limbaugh is already deriding him for alleged overuse of the first-person pronoun in his Sunday night speech, using a Jedi dark side trick to cleanse his own mind of the grotesque flight-suited MISSION ACCOMPLISHED preening of Mr. Obama’s predecessor. But one person has to say, GO: the commander in chief. One person has to, excuse me, pull the trigger. If things had gone better in the Iranian sand for Jimmy Carter in 1980, he would be a national hero and Ronald Reagan would have had to wait four years, maybe forever. That had to be on the President’s mind last weekend, because this was far from a slam-dunk mission. All praise to the brave SEALs, and everybody else who followed the President’s orders at great risk to themselves. But shut up, Rush, when the President of the United States cops to personally ordering troops into harm’s way.

Second, can we agree that American weekly newsmagazines are irretrievably broken? Both Time and Newsweek, which went to press before this happened, feature the royal wedding on their just-landed covers. They lost big on the timing, and now they’re newsstand laughingstocks, unless they rush “special editions” into press – but with what reporting, and who’s gonna pay for it? My hunch: we’ll catch ya next week, America! The only newsweekly which will have a current story is The Economist, which lands in subscribers’ mailboxes on Friday. Oh, by the way: they’re British! And here’s the complete coverage of the royal nuptials in what must now be regarded as the world’s best English-language newsmagazine:

A young man and his fiancée were expected to get married in central
London on April 29th. Millions of Britons took advantage of the
opportunity to take a foreign holiday.

Third, one’s initial reaction must indeed be jubilation: this lousy, privileged bastard who coerced so many down-class acolytes into missions he would be too afraid to perform himself finally got what was coming to him. He preached retrogression, yet chose luxury over the cause, like so many other hypocrites before him. But the American football-style celebrations I saw on tv looked very much like the Arab demonstrations after 9/11. Remove the audio, Photoshop-smudge the pickets and T-shirts, put up an Al Jazeera logo, and what’s the difference? I don’t like the way these images may be playing on the other side of the world. I am a firm believer in the adage, “People are alike all over,” but I fear that malefic others may decide to use our shared zealousness against us.

5/6/11: Time rushed out its next issue, which landed for subscribers by Thursday. It was 70 pages long and had five ads, three of them for drugs marketed to seniors. Newsweek also dropped early, on Friday, 62 pages, similar ad ratio but slightly more upmarket. Rather than doing “special editions,” both mags simply hurried up the next issue — Time even had some non-Osama stuff, but not Newsweek — to get those damned royal-wedding “commemoratives” off the frickin newsstand. They each faced an unusually long span before the next pubdate, and both better hope nothing else earthshaking happens in the meantime, in case they still want to be seen as part of a medium which responds to breaking news. The Economist, 104 pages landing on Friday as usual, complete with the rest of the world’s news, cover-lined: Now, kill his dream. Bin Laden was only one of many stories, and this British mag — now clearly best of breed, my friend — ignored the royal wedding.

7/1/11: Everybody with a deadline misses the big story occasionally, and this week it was The Economist’s turn. All anybody could talk about on Friday was the collapse of the Manhattan DA’s sexual assault case against former International Monetary Fund general manager Dominique Strauss-Kahn over his accuser’s credibility. And it was a big European story as well, perhaps the biggest of the day. But The Economist had already gone to press, and the issue that dropped on 7/1 had no mention of the surprise development.

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