Tonight, the third string Republican candidates for the 2012 political Super Bowl will have their first debate. Who will be the first one to ask Obama
to show his birth certificate show the Bin Laden photos?
Ever since the President has stated he won't release the photos documenting the death of Usama Bin Laden, debate has raged as to whether this is a good thing. This includes some on the left, including Eugene Robinson (who thinks that releasing the photo would be demoralizing to bin Laden's followers, and Jon Stewart, (who thinks that releasing the photo is documentation of war).
I have to disagree with Stewart's conflicting premises: that we should show the photo because we will be come attuned to the atrocities of war but also show the photo because we are already desensitized to the violence of the nightly crime TV shows we watch. Showing the photo ain't going to strengthen the former, it will strengthen the latter: we are a nation of thirteen year old boys that just want to see guts.
Years ago I refused to watch the video of Daniel Pearl's beheading. But reading what happened to him neither softened the notion that his captors were barbarians nor my desire for there to be justice. Listen, I get it. I have read that bin Laden's brains were splattered and his eyeball popped out. I don't need to see it because I can fucking read.
On the Right, the drums are starting to beat. I agree with Anson Kaye: Bin Laden Death Photo Coverage Is Media's New Birther Moment. Some people will say, so what? Who cares about the crazies, the 'graphers, if you will?
The answer is that the media does, and it's a huge distraction. Find the most outlandish conspiracy in America, and the media, especially Fox News, will cover it. I can't help but go back to the last time a Democrat was the president and was attacked unmercifully.
When George Stephenopolous and James Carville set up the War Room for Bill Clinton, the strategy was that you respond to attacks, no matter how wearisome it becomes. It is true that one ant of an attack might seem insignificant, but a swarm of ants can be a force to be reckoned with. We also know that when the Republican Party is running on fumes right now, they are completely desperate for anything to fill the void besides, "Hey! How the hell are we going to find something else to cut in the budget?" Deminishing this nonsense gets back to that.
Although the DNA evidence itself is not enough on its own to identify bin Laden, it's enough to conclusively determine with what we already know. Releasing the cold, bloodless, scientific DNA-matching analysis that the body was Bin Laden's would give people the proof that he is dead while also avoiding the gruesome tabloidish spectacle of the photograph that the administration feels will further hurt our image in the world. The sooner it's done, the better.