June 1 2011
This commentary appeared in The Providence Journal on June 1, 2011.
In "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy thought the wizard "a great head."
"A terrible beast," said the Tin Woodsman.
"A ball of fire," exclaimed the Lion. When the screen was pulled aside to reveal the great and terrible Wizard, he turned out to be an ordinary man.
So, too, did Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad. Like the Wizard, he was a skilled magician and propagandist preoccupied with his own image. One can imagine his asking himself: Should I wear the plain white robe when I threaten infidels with death and destruction, or the white robe with gold? Should I wear my beard long and gray or dyed the black of a virile warrior's?
But bin Laden was no ordinary humbug. He was a man who planned and reveled in the deaths of thousands, a man who aspired to kill millions, a man who spent his days figuring just how to do that.