As details of Operation Osama emerge, a campaign promise by Barack Obama, widely disparaged by opponents then, comes back to recall his confidence about being Commander-in-Chief.
In 2007, he said, "It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.”
Musharraf is long gone, but his Pakistani successors are no more reliable than he was and, in going after bin Laden, President Obama did exactly what candidate Obama promised--bypass Pakistanis in their own country to finally nail America's Public Enemy No.1.
Behind-the-scenes accounts of White House decision-making now echo John F. Kennedy in his approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which all options and contingencies were closely considered, with the President making the final calls. Bomb or send in troops? How do they fight their way out? If we do this and that happens--what if's and backup choices of every kind?
Photos of Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates et al tensely watching as the operation unfolds in real time tell more than thousands of words about what was at stake in a move to bypass an unreliable "ally" and go for broke to get bin Laden.
Failure could have been a diplomatic disaster. Bombing would have been safer, easier to explain away, but a hands-on attack would, as it did, provide sure proof of his death and provide some closure for Americans from 9/11 devastation.
What does all this reveal about Obama? Is he, like JFK, growing in stature after a dozen domestic versions of the Bay of Pigs in office? Has the professorial President finally shown the steel in his soul that critics, Right and Left, have been questioning since he took the oath?
When Barack Obama stands at Ground Zero in Manhattan Thursday for a victory lap to fulfill the promise that George W. Bush made with a bullhorn almost ten years ago, will he finally have quieted critics about his Commanding-in-Chief qualities?
And how well will he use them when Congress reconvenes next week for the Battle of the Budget?
As Republicans prepare for their first debate that night, how will they manage to vilify the man who gave the successful order to kill Osama bin Laden?