06/27/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bring me the head of...

...Osama bin Laden. It's what George W.Bush was hoping for, that trophy that would somehow justify his invasion of Iraq, the "coonskin on the wall" as Lyndon B. Johnson used to say when talking about victory in Vietnam. Now, in a curious twist of fate, it's what Barak Obama must be hoping for too. Not that it would justify the fiasco that Bush begat in Iraq. Bush will forever have the blood of 5000-plus Americans on his hands, plus thousands of wounded and maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqui dead. It is a shameful, criminal record, and if there is any justice, he and his cronies would be at the bar waiting sentencing. But the one thing he never got, the one thing that however symbolic would have justified the war in some people's eyes, would have been the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden. It's probably meaningless now, since Al Qeda is at best a worldwide franchise; when Ray Kroc died, it didn't slow down McDonald's from selling millions more hamburgers, and the death of Osama bin Laden now would have little long-term effect on Al Qeda. But for Obama, who is being attacked on every front by the Republicans, a symbolic foreign policy "win" like this would insulate him from the inevitable Republican charge that he's "soft on terrorism" (especially if there's another attack on the U.S, as even Dick Cheney predicted there would be). If it doesn't come up in 2010, it will come up in 2012 as the know-nothing superhawks like Sarah Palin get more and more reckless with their hysterical political lynching of the Democratic president. So for Obama, catching or killing Osama bin Laden will be the kind of symbolic "victory" that George W. Bush so clearly craved but for a different reason: It will never justify the slaughter in Iraq, but it will give Obama cover for the next wave of Republican kamikaze attacks on his leadership credentials that is sure to come.