Opinion Brief

Bin Laden's death: A 'wake-up call' for the GOP to get serious?

President Obama's focus on big-stakes challenges — such as the killing of al Qaeda's leader — might just force the Right to drop birtherism and other fringe issues

The killing of Osama bin Laden instantly changed the Republican presidential contest, says Jonathan Martin at Politico. Before the news broke, one of the GOP's most popular potential candidates, Donald Trump, was gloating about forcing President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate. Then, in a symbolic twist that trivialized that so-called victory, Trump's reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, was interrupted Sunday so Obama could solemnly announce that he had authorized a risky raid that ended the decade-long hunt for the architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "This is probably a wake-up call that the stakes of this game are very serious," says Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). Will bin Laden's death end what GOP strategists call the "silly season"?

Yes, this could shut up "loopy" Republicans at last: "What a difference a day makes," says Sean Wilentz at The New Republic. On Saturday, GOP hucksters, led by "real-estate mogul and professional vulgarian Donald Trump," were "mired in a loopy but degrading controversy over President Obama's birth certificate." But Obama's announcement instantly silenced the Right's "engines of paranoia." Maybe now GOP hopefuls can move past "outrageous attacks, innuendo, and conspiracy-mongering," and focus on serious matters."Above and beyond"

Hey, most GOP candidates have been serious all along: The Republican field should "step out of the way and let Barack Obama take credit for killing bin Laden," says Byron York at the Washington Examiner, but then get back to what they were doing before — criticizing Obama over economic issues. This week's news will probably steer Thursday's first GOP presidential debate away from the economy and toward foreign policy, but "unemployment is still high, gas prices higher, and economic worries higher still," so the economy is still where the GOP has the edge."GOP hopefuls wait out president's bin Laden triumph"

Dream on. There is no cure for the Right's paranoia: Anyone who believes bin Laden's death will transform the Republican 2012 race is "in deep denial about the party's Charlie Sheen level of crazy," says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. The GOP base still has umpteen arch enemies — from union members to NPR employees to anyone who believes in evolution. And, regarding those battles, the base has more faith in the Donald Trumps and Herman Cains than the "boring, not-quite-insane" Mitch Daniels and Jon Huntsmans."Desperate beltway insiders cry: Maybe bin Laden's death will bring us a Daniels/Huntsman ticket!"

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