Where I Was and How I Heard About It

Fall of Berlin Wall — late Sunday night, falling asleep in front of CNN.

Nelson Mandela released from prison, fall and assassination of Nicolai Ceceascu — on NPR, driving in the snow at night, back to Detroit for Christmas. Developments during the 6-hour drive were regular and dramatic.

Attack on the World Trade Center — on NPR, driving to work. Went out and bought a small TV as soon as Best Buy opened.

Death of the coward Osama Bin Laden — On Facebook, then to CNN, again late on a Sunday night.

I’m very grateful that the fall of tyranny can burn strong memories in my head as vivid as those of great tragedy. It bodes well for my continued sanity. Watching Wolf Blitzer and John King stammer and vamp while waiting and waiting for the White House announcement was funny for a while, but I put up with it because the only alternative was Geraldo Rivera on the graveyard shift on Fox. (I hope he remembered to start the coffee for the morning crew before he left.)

And the college kids in front of the White House butchering the National Anthem made me yearn for a bombastic pro singer from a hockey game to wheel out a PA in a dapper suit and blow em all away. Where’s Fat Bob the Singing Plumber when you need him?

But those were as nothing, compared with watching Obama walk down that red carpet (repressing a swagger, you could just tell) and deliver his news in such calm and measured terms. I wanted more details — how Osama was shot, how many times, who got to chew on his skull first — but will certainly accept his announcement, including his reference to Bush and the reassertion that we were never at war with Islam. Gracious, exact, statesmanlike, cool, and in the end deadly. (The only note that was off was when he called for Americans to show the unity we did back in September 2001. Surely someone on the right is going to chastise him for using this moment to score partisan points! That will be the amusing sloppy seconds for the next few days: watching conservatives find Obama’s failings in this whole operation. Watch for lots of blame going to Bill Clinton for his impotent tossing of cruise missiles at Afghan training camps in 1998. And probably lots of mentions of Jimmy Carter, just to bring up his name to sully this effort.)

I certainly hope Obama allowed himself a WHOOOP when he got back out of camera range. I’d say it called for a drink and a cigarette.

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