Birth of the Deathers

So I see that Fox and the talk radio wingnuts are already on the latest conspiracy theory:

 

Evidently, it’s an article of faith that the administration might have faked the death of bin Laden, ostensibly for electoral purposes. Drudge is heralding a tip that the WH is releasing the "death photos" supposedly to set the rumors to rest. As usual, it’s impossible to know if Drudge is reporting a rumor or starting one …

Wouldn’t you think they’d wonder why the President would do this 18 months before the election? It’s hard to see the advantage there. Of course, everyone knows they don’t know nothin’ ’bout winning campaigns so maybe they just got excited and went with it before they thought about the timing. But I really don’t think anyone’s dumb enough not to have thought of the fact that if they didn’t actually kill him, he might turn up. (Boy would their faces be red then!) The government has a history of lying and there’s every reason to be skeptical, but there are some conspiracy theories that just don’t make a lot of sense and this is one of them.

I suppose it’s inevitable that conspiracy theories would arise from this. Indeed, I would expect it coming from the Muslim extremist world, in which there’s good reasonfor "the legend" to survive. But then I suppose the Muslim extremist world and the American right wing could share the same purpose. It wouldn’t be the first time.

On the other hand, this sort of thing really does add fuel to the conspiracy fire and you have to wonder what the hell they are thinking:

It was a fitting end for the America’s most wanted man. As President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan told it, a cowardly Osama bin Laden used his own wife as a human shield in his final moments. Except that apparently wasn’t what happened at all.

Hours later, other administration officials were clarifying Brennan’s account. Turns out the woman that was killed on the compound wasn’t bin Laden’s wife. Bin Laden may have not even been using a human shield. And he might not have even been holding a gun.

You can’t help but recall the Jessica Lynch nonsense when you hear something like this. Or Pat Tillman. There seems to be a reflexive desire to portray such events as scenes from a cowboy movie and I suppose that after all the talk about "Obama the coward" hiding behind a woman’s skirts yesterday, I suppose they got their mileage out of it. But considering the inevitability of the conspiracy theories, it’s really foolish not to resist the impulse to embellish. The heroes and villains are clear enough.

As for whether or not they needed to create this myth in order to justify killing an unarmed man — well, that’s just nonsense. Just watch Stewart and Colbert last night for a taste of how even the self-identified liberals see this. I don’t think there’s any political downside, and in fact it probably makes them look more macho in the eyes of the people. Besides, the question of whether the president could order an assassination was settled some time ago. They assert the right to keep prisoners in jail forever and kill American citizens, and nobody cares, so why in the world would there be any domestic blowback for ordering the death of the world’s most wanted man?

I think it was mythologizing for the sake of mythologizing, even if it was subconscious. And it’s foolish. Certainly, John Brennan should be expected to get these details right when he comes before the press. But let’s not get stupid. The fact that they embellished doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

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