His body has been consigned to the sea but how will we deal with his legacy?
For years now, the corporeal Osama has been like one of those aging celebrities on reality TV and game shows popping up to reprise his latest and greatest hit on 9/11. His irrelevance has been monumental.
What needs attention now is the hole he left in the American psyche that has been growing and festering for almost a decade now--gaslighting us into self-destruction, a term to describe intimidation and psychological abuse through false information that clouds the victim's perception.
"All we have to do," bin Laden crowed in 2004, "is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note..."
He was talking about Iraq and Afghanistan but could have updated it with Libya, Yemen and most of the Middle East by now. If he were poetically inclined, Osama might have even eulogized himself for much of the hatred, division and distrust that cloud internal American politics today.
The Pakistan assassination is being hailed as "a game changer," but, in and of itself, will change little. Yet it does offer an opportunity for bipartisan realization that we should be at war with real enemies, not one another.
Former President Bush's congratulations recall the spirit in late 2001 that brought Americans together in shocked awareness of our vulnerability and, at the same time, the bonds we all share.
As Osama bin Laden's body sinks out of sight, he is giving us a second chance at redemption from the havoc and hate he brought to the world. The only fitting tribute to his memory would be to grasp it and erase some of his obscene legacy.