It was fitting that after a month of absolute and embarrassing silliness regarding Donald Trump’s birther campaign, President Obama would silence the conspiracy theorists with a gesture of presidential majesty—ending the search for the most wanted terrorist in the world, Osama bin Laden. Killing bin Laden, after having to make public the long version of his birth certificate to prove his legitimacy more than two years after his inauguration, seemed straight out of Hollywood. More importantly, however, it may have provided Americans with a moment of pause regarding the reason for the election of Barack Obama in the first place.
Obama’s election represented to a large cross section of America a hope that politics could be conducted differently and that America would embark on a new course to deal with a rapidly changing world. Yet, until less than a week ago, the question of his “legitimacy” was material for wild speculation. It seemed as if the campaign of 2008 was a figment of someone’s imagination.
We can all recall how Obama made his first major public entrance in the political world when he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston. I was there as a guest of CBC television to comment on the speech. There was electricity in the air as the young Senate candidate called for national reconciliation and the need for a more united America to face emerging challenges in education, health care, energy and security. The event was uplifting and inspirational and it paved the way for his election.
When he announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois on a cold Saturday in February of 2007, some may have found the timing a bit precocious for the young first-term senator, but no one questioned his citizenship or his right to run for the nation’s highest office. Throughout 2007-2008, Obama battled with a host of Democratic adversaries, including the formidable Hillary Clinton, and the question of his American birth was addressed and thought to be resolved. Finally in the election campaign of 2008 against John McCain, Obama went on to win a decisive victory against the vaunted Republican machine, making history as the first African-American president. All of America seemed proud of the moment.
Ending bin Laden’s reign over global terrorism has given the president a temporary but substantial boost in the polls. Donald Trump is once again seen to be more of a reality show host than a serious presidential contender. Serious Republican operatives are speaking out against those who would hijack the Republican brand to promote a fringe issue against all contrary evidence. The president deserves credit not only for his latest exploit, but also for showing the character and the temperament to do what was best for America and not be distracted by the silliness.
[John Parisella is currently serving as Quebec’s Delegate-General in New York City]