1. Hooray. It is almost never right to celebrate a death. Almost.
2. The speech. When listening to Obama's statement in real time (at a tavern in Southern California, with my sisters and brother after a memorial service) I thought it might be too long and detailed for the circumstances. All the other big-screen TVs in the place, which had been carrying sports or reality shows, were suddenly silenced so that one carrying Obama could be heard. In that unlikely but representative setting, attention seemed to be flagging a minute or two before the president had finished speaking. But hearing excerpts on the radio as I drove home, I was more impressed by the craftsmanship and necessity of most parts of the speech. We will discuss this for a long time, but on short notice this was an effective presentation of both details and theme. The tone, which was sober rather than exultant, was also appropriate. Video is here, and below. [*See Update at bottom]
3. Emphasizing continuity. Good for Obama in going out of his way to stress, at both the beginning and end of the statement, the unified mood of the country ten years ago, and to try to summon it again. To his credit, he also several times emphasized the continuity of effort against al Qaeda over the past decade (while pointedly omitting any mention of the invasion of Iraq as part of the long effort against al Qaeda). To his further shrewdness and credit, he invoked his predecessor by name when mentioning one of George W. Bush's bravest and most important statements: "As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam."
Good for Bush and his own statement, including saying that after Obama called him with the news, "I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude."
Obviously there are going to be partisan implications of this news, many of which are tempting to tick off right now. It's reassuring that at least on the night of the news most major partisans avoided openly going into them.