At 11:35 p.m., standing at a podium in the East Room of the White House, the president uttered these words: "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that has killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children."
I expect that most people will see this clip dozens, if not hundreds of times in the coming weeks. It is already being canonized on cable television and can't help but have an impact on the direction of Obama's presidency. As any number of cable analysts are already pointing out, it will certainly rank among Obama's signature first-term achievements.
There is a very short list of similar such moments. One obvious example that springs to mind is George W. Bush's impromptu declaration from atop a pile of rubble to Ground Zero rescue workers just after 9/11: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!"