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May 02, 2011 1:40 PM The political/electoral impact of killing bin Laden

By Steve Benen

THE POLITICAL/ELECTORAL IMPACT OF KILLING BIN LADEN…. U.S. forces killing Osama bin Laden is clearly a national security victory, but under the circumstances, it’s also a victory for President Obama. Given that his re-election bid is next year, it’s not unreasonable to consider the developments in the context of the president’s standing — which may soon improve.

Opinions, not surprisingly, differ. Mark Halperin, not exactly a Democratic ally, calls the news a “triumph for Obama,” adding, “[T]his is a great day for Obama’s re-election effort.” Jonathan Chait, meanwhile, believes the political ramifications will be “minimal to nonexistent.” Kevin Drum is also skeptical about the effect.

Nate Silver is closer to Halperin, arguing, “[T]his is good news for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. I can’t imagine a single, atomized piece of news, foreign or domestic, that would be better for the President.”

Although the Republican candidates had not seemed especially interested in making an issue out of national security — perhaps because Mr. Obama’s foreign policy has been fairly hawkish and not clearly differentiated from theirs — it at the very least neuters the issue for them. It presumably will become a significant talking point for the President — the sort of thing that swing voters will be reminded of in a commercial on the eve of the 2012 elections.

The news will also, almost certainly, trigger a significant improvement in Mr. Obama’s approval rating.

The sense in which I’d urge caution is that the former is not equal to the latter. Yes, this is going to help Mr. Obama — to some degree or another — in November 2012. And yes, it’s also going to make Mr. Obama look much more formidable in the near-term.

But I’m not sure that the magnitude of the bump that Mr. Obama might get in the Gallup tracking poll is going to be especially predictive of how much the residue of this news might produce for him 19 months from now.

Right. It’s called a “bounce” for a reason — the president seems likely to see his standing improve almost immediately, but the bump in the polls seems likely to subside soon after. Making assumptions and predictions from this is generally a bad idea, especially if the election is not primarily about national security. In other words, will the OBL news set Obama’s popularity on a new, semi-permanent trajectory? Probably not.

The common comparison today is to George H.W. Bush riding high in 1991 after the first Gulf War, only to see his fortunes falter badly a year later. I’m not sure I buy the comparison — Obama’s a better candidate than Bush, and if there’s a Bill Clinton in the GOP field, he or she is hiding well — but the point about unpredictable reversals is worth remembering.

But if we’re laying odds on the president’s re-election, the bin Laden news, I’d argue, bumps the likelihood up, at least a little. What I’m imagining is Obama and his supporters offering voters a list of accomplishments from his first term, and it’s going to be a doozy: ended the Great Recession, health care reform, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, New START, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, health care for 9/11 rescue workers, and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices.

Oh, and he killed Osama bin Laden, too.

Is that a winning message? I’ve heard worse.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • bobbo on May 02, 2011 1:50 PM:

    Also, he should be leveraging this RIGHT NOW to improve policy. Now that he is a badass, can't he say "I'm not going to let you play games with this debt ceiling nonsense. We must raise the debt limit, and we must do it now. It's non-negotiable."

  • bignose on May 02, 2011 1:50 PM:

    Says Silver: "...I can't imagine a single, atomized piece of news, foreign or domestic, that would be better for the President."

    I can:

    "6% unemployment."

  • jdb on May 02, 2011 1:50 PM:

    I think another factor has to do with what effect this will have on the competition. I think that it will continue to discourage the 'fence-riders' from throwing their hat in the ring. Rumor had it that Daniels was leaning toward entering the race. I think that now he will think otherwise. If you are riding the fence, this does little to encourage you to feel that your chances have improved.
    In addition, the timing is important. There has been concern recently on the GOP side because they have been slow to start. This will continue to push back any announcements by major candidates, because they won't get the attention they desire.
    Both of these factors will improve the President's chances for reelection.

  • Tom Allen on May 02, 2011 1:51 PM:

    Was it a winning message in 2010?

    But hey, who cares about jobs and unemployment? Certainly no one in DC.

  • MikeBoyScout on May 02, 2011 1:54 PM:

    Also it is a simple sound bite retort to the often said, but not factually supported claim that a Democrat president is weak on national defense.

    "Maybe, but he killed Osama bin Laden."

  • demtom on May 02, 2011 1:54 PM:

    People who say this will make Obama unbeatable show no knowledge of history, but the same can be said for those who say it will have no effect.

    Though I don't take the system literally, I like Lichtman's Keys to the Presidency system, which says that Americans vote on the preponderance of the evidence (in this system, the incumbent party must get positive answers in at least 8 of 13 categories).

    What this moment does is give a big, unimpeachable "Yes" answer to "Foreign policy success?". That by itself won't win the election, as Jimmy Carter (Camp David accords) and Bush I (Gulf War) can attest.

    But considering Obama already had charisma, major policy change and imcumbency, and this event reduces the negligible chance of an intra-party challenge to zero, he's moving up the ladder toward unbeatableness at a pretty good rate.

  • c u n d gulag on May 02, 2011 1:54 PM:

    Some of the other accomplishments will still be kind of esoteric by 11/12, especially health care.

    But this, this is something concrete that people can understand and hold in their heads.

    What's amazing to me though, is some of the negative reactions in comments on Liberal websites.

    Aparently, bin Laden was either killed when he shouldn't have been, or somehow or other the whole thing wasn't done in some holier-than-though way that the Obama purity trolls would approve of.

    I'm almost as sick of our leftie purity trolls as I am of the rightie trolls.

    Grow up, people!
    The world ain't black or white, never was, and never will be.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 02, 2011 1:56 PM:

    PPP poll on DailyKos yesterday points to Obama's numbers having slipped with the young and with people making

  • walt on May 02, 2011 1:56 PM:

    Bignose is right. The election will turn on the economy, not an event that occurred 18 months prior to it. Right now, the Republicans are praying for a worsening economy and they might get it. But they don't need a collapse to win, just a sense that things are not getting better. Obama's presidency has been solid enough, to be sure. But there's a level of pain out there that most pundits don't really get. Ultimately, the argument against Obama is that he's been an ineffective as a liberal activist. So, we'll end up electing the opposite of that.

  • June on May 02, 2011 1:56 PM:

    Next stop: disrupting, dismantling and defeating the price-rigging game of oil speculators. Looking forward to seeing the headlines.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 02, 2011 1:57 PM:

    @bignose - yes! plus one! I think getting below 8% would result in a landslide.

  • RollaMO on May 02, 2011 1:58 PM:

    He's now done two things Republicans could never do, he beat the Clintons and he got Bin Laden.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 02, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Weird - my comment was cut off before - PPP poll on DailyKos yesterday points to Obama's numbers having slipped with the young and with people making less than $30,000 annually. He hovers around 50:50 approval, improving his stake with these voters -- and getting their enthusiasm up to get to the polls in 2012 -- would appear to be all that is needed to assure re-election. This is why it's the economy, stupid. This is why it comes down to job creation. This is why Repugs want to strangle the recovery in its crib. I still lay money on Obama's reelection, but I'm old enough to remember when the first Gulf War made Bush Sr. unbeatable ... if memory serves he was seated when the president was sworn in on 1/20/1993 ...

  • Paul on May 02, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Yes. He hasn't ended the Great Recession just yet...

  • JPK on May 02, 2011 2:00 PM:

    "Can't Lose" scenario: use OBL death as premise to completely and immediately end war in Afghanistan....

  • Mark on May 02, 2011 2:01 PM:

    Oh, I don't know. If it's managed properly it could indeed be a positive vote-getter for Obama. Don't overdo it, but every time the Republicans start getting stupid in public again, replay the video clip of Obama announcing bin Laden's death.

    Right after, play the video clip of George W. Bush saying, "I'm just not all that concerned about him, to be honest".

  • fourlegsgood on May 02, 2011 2:07 PM:

    I have to say I disagree about this being equivalent to the HW Bush gulf war bounce.

    This is slaying a really awful dragon. And it demolishes the "he's weak!" meme - no matter what they say about him, we can just intone "he killed Bin Laden"

    game over (on that front, anyway)

  • ManOutOfTime on May 02, 2011 2:14 PM:

    @fourlegsgood - Fair point. Still, the big grain of salt is recommended with a one-time event facing 19 months of political headwinds, slow (at best) economic recovery projected, and a corporatefascist noise machine strengthening is grasp on the short hairs of the public imagination.

  • Carl Nyberg on May 02, 2011 2:19 PM:

    There needs to be an affirmative message for what Obama and the Dems will accomplish if re-elected.

    Bush 41's affirmative message was that he had the discipline to wait for the economy to improve by not using gov't intervention. Pledging to do nothing to address economic issues is a losing message. (BTW, this was pretty much the Dem message in 2010 too.)

    The other factor of significance is that it's hard to build momentum and enthusiasm with donors when it looks like the other side is going to win.

    The Monica Lewinsky scandal hurt Dems by hampering their ability to organize, raise money and push a message.

    Killing ObL willing hurt Republicans some in this regard, but Citizens United means they can raise millions very quickly from a few donors, so blunting GOP momentum is less of a factor.

  • Danny on May 02, 2011 2:19 PM:

    This, from the otherwise mostly brilliant Nate, is wrong or only true if taken in the sense of appearances:

    perhaps because Mr. Obama's foreign policy has been fairly hawkish and not clearly differentiated from theirs

    It needs pushback.

    1) Obama - in sharp contrast with Bush and republicans - but similar to other mainstream democrats like Kerry in his candidacy rejected the tenent that Iraq was the theatre of central strategic importance for our security. In it's place they put AfPak, Al Qaeda and Getting Osama bin Laden.

    This is no secret, you only need to go back to the presidential debates of 2004 and 2008 to see the difference spelled out clearly.

    This success confirms that the dems priorities were the right ones.

    2) Obama and the dems rejects the assertion that torture and throwing our values to the side is necessary to protect ourselves and get our enemies.

    Once again this success proves them right.

    3) Obama and the dems argues that it is in our interest to work with partners and within the international framework to achieve ends that are in the interest of free people everywhere. They reject the expansive license of the Bush Doctrine for the US to act unilaterally and only claim that right for dealing with those that have attacked us and bringing them to justice.

    Getting OBL shows that the promised "strength" of Bush doctrine and neocon bluster and jingoism was a mirage, and that a smart foreign policy in harmony with our allies and friends and the international community brings real strength.

    So. This is a mainstream democratic foreign policy. Perhaps a bit smarter and more successful than the norm, but still. The contrast with mainstream republican thought and the neocons could not be more clear or drastic. One is wise and will serve our nation, the other is catastrophicly misguided and almost broke our counry. We're still getting up of that hole.

  • SecularAnimist on May 02, 2011 2:21 PM:

    fourlegsgood wrote: "This is slaying a really awful dragon."

    Having grown up with 20,000 Soviet hydrogen bombs on ICBMs, locked and loaded, on hair-trigger alert, targeted to reduce every city in the USA to a glassy crater several times over, with at most 45 minutes warning, I somehow never felt that Osama bin Laden was that "awful" of a "dragon".

  • jjm on May 02, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Republicans have got to be quaking. They have lost their reliable bugaboo, OBL. And they now have to realize that Obama is no pussy, as they were led to believe by his non-John Wayne manners.

    Fools. Their inability to credit him is absolutely puzzling.

    I also appreciate your partial listing of the accomplishments of the Obama administration [ended the Great Recession, health care reform, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, New START, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, health care for 9/11 rescue workers, and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices.]

    I once just listed the actual legislation and dates on another blog and people wrote repeatedly to THANK ME. They now had, they said, something to show their relatives to prove Obama was doing a lot, something the Republican dominated press was clearly minimizing and not reporting.

  • Vince on May 02, 2011 2:24 PM:

    I hate to burst SB's bubble, but his list isn't quite as potent as he seems to think it is.

    1. Ended the Great Recession. Technically, we are not in recession, sure. For some sectors, most notably Wall Street, boom times are even back. But, Obama's not big enough stimulus and adoption of the austerity movement proposals, has relegated millions of people to long term unemployment, poverty and reduced opportunities likely for the rest of their careers. And the austerity movement proposals may well lead to a double dip by 2012.

    2. ACA. Immediately took off the table 2 of the most needed reforms and was left with a Republican health care reform that forces people to buy private insurance. Oh, and most of it doesn't go into effect until 2014.

    3. Wall Street reform. Very weak reform, that largely hasn't been implemented, that may not be implemented if the Republicans have their way. To name one example, the CFTC is supposed to be curtailing commodity speculation, but has postponed doing so until next year. Not sure if Obama has noticed gas prices, but voters certainly have.

    4. He got confirmed 2 moderately left Supreme Court justices to counter balance 2 of the most radically right Supreme Court justices ever to sit on the bench that Bush put there.

    5. Net neutrality? Is SB serious about that one? I guess he is, but I wouldn't proclaim Obama's FCC to be exactly strong defenders of net neutrality.

    Basically, this is a list of stuff that Obama can run on by saying he's not as horrible as the Republicans. Not as heartless, not as easy on Wall Street, that sort of thing. But, it is not exactly an inspiring list to run on, or, at least, not nearly as inspiring as it could have been.

    The rest of the list is a mix of genuinely good stuff (Lily Ledbetter Act, ending DADT, New START), and stuff that will have absolutely no impact on the 2012 Presidential election.

    And I would add, in addition to killing Osama: throwing his liberal base under the bus every chance he gets.

  • pokeyone on May 02, 2011 2:29 PM:

    Vince, Obama is not God. Don't compare him to the Almighty, compare him to the alternative! And in that, my friend, you might now have President McPain and VP Phalin. Democrats are not perfect, yet we have mush to be thankful for.

  • CE on May 02, 2011 2:37 PM:

    @Danny, in a literal sense Osama was not as nearly awful a threat to the United States as the 20,000 nuclear weapons you mention, but he was a more effective bogey man, much more effective. He committed an atrocity that was much more visceral than anything the Soviets did, just by the nature of being witnessed in real time on world wide television and his elusiveness and unpredictable vhs style presence confirmed to America that while he couldn't kill you, he hated you and wanted to kill you.

    With the USSR I grew up in an era where there was an underlying attempt at friendliness through the olympics and through the relationship of Regean and Gorbachav. For the 8 - 12 yr old kids that are now voters that witnessed 9-11, OBL could only have been the evil incarnate as Bush and the Media represented him.

  • Vince on May 02, 2011 2:40 PM:

    pokeyone, thanks for summing up Obama's reelection campaign slogan: not as bad as the Republican. That's simply awe inspiring, isn't it?

    And, I don't believe I've every compared him to God.

  • Danny on May 02, 2011 2:49 PM:

    @CE
    You're responding to SecularAnimist, not to me. The signature goes below the post.

  • zeitgeist on May 02, 2011 2:52 PM:

    The common comparison today is to George H.W. Bush riding high in 1991 after the first Gulf War, only to see his fortunes falter badly a year later. I'm not sure I buy the comparison

    I agree, Steve, but for different reason than you go on to list. For HW Bush, he resume was very strong in foreign affairs. So success in Gulf I was expected, and didn't add much -- especially when it resulted in attention turning to teh economy, where he proved to be out of touch (and hamstrung by his own "read my lips" promise.)

    For Obama, lack of foreign policy experience (and being a Democrat) meant that what he needed to shore up was foriegn and defense issues. Now he has, in a huge way. And it now allows him to turn back to the economy (and de-escalate in Afghanistan, which will help pull the deficit down as well).

    This will not be a decisive moment in Obama's reelection campaign, but it will be a very helpful one.

  • blondie on May 02, 2011 2:54 PM:

    Don't know where the economy will be a year from now, but I did hear several times today that oil prices have dropped a little just from this news.

    If the President is serious about investigating speculators and can get pump prices back down, that will be a boost among people who have jobs (and even those who don't, as it eases the pressure on them, too).

    IOW, we can't foresee all the ramifications of this success.

  • pokeyone on May 02, 2011 3:02 PM:

    Vince, Trying to be a douche does not score you many points, although it grants you high status as a concern troll. So by all means, keep it up. Clearly, I was not being literal when talking about comparisons to God. Try to respond to the larger issue rather than literalizing obvious metaphors.

  • neil b. on May 02, 2011 3:08 PM:

    I don't know if http://www.whattheheckhasobamadonesofar.com/ will add this sort of thing, but they should. Meanwhile, check out the stuff ...

  • Mark on May 02, 2011 3:21 PM:

    Couple of thoughts on re-election chances:

    1. The low information voter -- the ones who elected him in 2008 because he seemed calmer and in control when everything else was falling apart, and the ones who left him because of the bailouts ("where's mine?") -- they will give Obama disproportionate credit on this. No, it won't help him sweep the South and deep-seated haters there, but it will help him regain risky territory, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where tough, efficient action is highly respected.

    2. Unlike the first Gulf War, this may not be a one-time event. It's a dynamic situation that will move toward and away from us. There may be reprisals. There may be a broader round-up of the core AQ team. Obama has inoculated himself somewhat from attacks on US interests (at least to an extent). And further blows to AQ would keep the good news going. I'd expect the US to still be fully engaged in trying to defeat "the terrorists" 18 months from now, which given what happened last night is very much to Obama's advantage against anyone running against him.

  • JEA on May 02, 2011 3:21 PM:

    "I'm not sure I buy the comparison."

    I do. November 2012 is a long way off and a lot can change...

  • jsjiowa on May 02, 2011 3:25 PM:

    Howard Fineman has an interesting take on this issue over at HuffPo. Essentially, he says Obama wins on national security, which is usually an area where Republicans win. I think he makes a really good point, and that argument will last long after the initial poll bump from the raid in Pakistan.

  • Danny on May 02, 2011 3:25 PM:

    @Vince

    Yours is the (by this point) all to familiar laundry list of complaints from the self styled "liberal" wing, a.k.a. FDL wing of the progressive movement, peddles at any given opportunity.

    It may be a good thing to keep in mind that a couple of weeks ago Obamas approval stood at 70% with conservative dems, 75% with moderate dems and 80% with self identified liberal dems.

    The volume of discontent liberals on the net and on blog comments in particular is not representative of actual reality.

    The laundry list:

    Obama's not big enough stimulus

    While Krugman and other has made a good case that a bigger stimulus would have been economically wise, they have yet to make a convincing case that it was ever politically possible to pass.

    IOW nirvana fallacy.

    and adoption of the austerity movement proposals

    What adoption of their proposals? Note also that the "austerity movement" only got political clout after Jane Hamsher et al tricked a portion of the progressive base to sit out the 2010 midterms causing a R +70 shift in the house and +7 in the senate of radical, teaparty freshmen republicans that ran on the deficit, brought into power by the apparent "will of the american people".

    Elections have consequences, if you don't like it wine less, vote more.

    has relegated millions of people to long term unemployment, poverty

    Yes, exactly, the severity of the effects of the financial meltdown of 2008 that we're still feeling is feeding discontent. But it's hardly well deserved.

    and reduced opportunities likely for the rest of their careers.

    ACA. Immediately took off the table 2 of the most needed reforms

    Let's just note that if this is meant to refer to "single payer" and "public option", then claiming that the latter was "immediately [taken] off the table" is dishonest bordering on a flat out lie.

    On it's face the public option died in the senate one year after working on HCR commenced, at the hands of many blue dog senators and conservative dems that were unwilling to vote for it.

    But then there's a conspiracy theory, peddled by FDL that alledges a nefarious plot to kill it by the admin. This is ultimately supported only by the claims of anymous "health care lobbyists" in one newspaper article, and pretty much nothing else.

    IOW, assuming bad faith on account of Obama, trusting anonymous health care lobbyists over democratic politicians.

    and was left with a Republican health care reform that forces people to buy private insurance. Oh, and most of it doesn't go into effect until 2014.

    Presidents have been aiming for HCR and universal coverage for a century. But it doesnt go into effect until 2014. Bummers.

    Oh, and you forgot about that small detail, nearly universal coverage, which was what we wanted to accomplish from the start. Health care for all americans.

    And about free single payer health care through medicaid for all americans up to 150% of the poverty line.

    And about heavily subsidized HCI for anyone making up to 44k a year, payed for by taxes on the rich.

    All in all providing proper health care to >30 million people that presently rely on ER care or god knows what.

    Wall Street reform. Very weak reform

    The first major paradigm that regulation is appropriate, needed and good for consumers, since the rise to power of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and the deregulation crowd in the 1970s. A consumer protection agency, a bailout fund paid for by taxing banks instead of taxing citizens, and more.

    that largely hasn't been implemented [yet], that may not be implemented if the Republicans have their way.

    This is not a critique of Obama, it's a critique of republicans. It's a reason for vocaly supporting the reform bill passed and standing up for the president and the bill against republican attacks.

    He got confirmed 2 moderately left Supreme Court justices to counter balance 2 of the most radically right Supreme Court justices ever to sit on the bench that Bush put there.

    This is laughable. "5-4" does that mean anything to you? It does to most people. Kagan and Sotomayor - do they belong to the "5" or to the "4"?

    If you start standing up for your president, movement and party, instead of working against them in the service of Jane Hamsher, we may in a couple of years see them belong to a new "5-4" majority, a progressive one. If the president is reelected next year, only then.

    And I would add, in addition to killing Osama: throwing his liberal base under the bus every chance he gets.

    This never happened. Some netroots got their fewling huwt by big old mean homosexual Rahm Emanuel. Jane Hamsher threw a hissy fit and decided to start her own movement in honor of herself.

    As I pointed out above, Obama is at 80% with lib dems, in fact he is most popular with liberal dems - not with moderate or conservative dems. In the real world.

    What he's got a problem with I suspect are white, former naderites with to much time on their hands, hanging out at FDL, and in their spare time posting endless rants on the comments section of any progressive blog they can find.

  • Vince on May 02, 2011 3:27 PM:

    pokeyone, thanks for the douche comment. Way to make a solid point in a classy manner.

    Were you making a larger point? If so, I completely missed it.

    But, based on your brief response to me, let me try to infer what your larger point it is:

    You seem to think that I think that Obama can part the Red Sea or something. OK, being to literal again. You think that I think he could have single handedly changed DC culture. Is that right? Well, I don't think that. I think he could have fought a hell of a lot harder for working people in this country than he has thus far. Remember the "I'll put on my walking shoes and march with the unions" bullshit? Other than some tepid comments about what went on in WI, I don't recall Obama doing a damn thing for unions since he came to office, much less put on his walking shoes. That is but one of many examples that illustrate how much he's willing to fight for average wage earners in this country.

    You seem to be in the SB camp that seems to inexplicably believes the POTUS is this weak figure head office, with no real levers of power. No ability to shape the national debate in a different way.

    I simply believe that you, and other Obama apologists, are wrong about that point. Your attempt to paint me as someone who is a douche, a concern troll, and too stupid to get a metaphor doesn't change that one bit. I am, in fact, still awaiting a substantive reply to my original post. Unless ad hominem attacks count as as substantive response in your circles.

  • tanstaafl on May 02, 2011 3:31 PM:

    I wasn't going to comment because my gut reaction on how this will impact Obama's election chances are pretty close to those of demtom above (and of Nate Silver).

    But after reading the next two main page posts, there is another way this event may help Obama's election chances. Namely, that the desperate attempts by Republicans to avoid giving the President any credit for this event could turn off Independent voters. They would have been much better off to imitate former President George W Bush who issued a short succinct statement congratulating President Obama and the U.S. military and intelligence forces involved in the operation. If they did that, made no attempt to spin it and then went back to attacking him on OTHER issues in a day or two, they might have blunted its impact. But too many of them are incapable of showing that kind of class (Bush, for all his swaggering performance as President has shown a certain amount of class as an ex-President).

  • Just Guessing on May 02, 2011 3:42 PM:

    Of course this will help. But at the moment he is going up a generic republican candidate. Once he is up against the actual republican nominee he will just demolish them.

    I'm just loving the 2008 debate with McGrumpy where Obama lays out clearly what he would do if he found OBL in Pakistan and McGrumpy says that he wouldn't go after him because Pakistan is a soverign state, (as if Iraq and Libya aren't). Classic.

    If you really listen to what Obama said in 2008 then he has done a great deal of what he promised. I for one wasn't expecting everything but I will certainly take what has been acheived so far. And the republicans are still in the process of destroying themselves from within.

  • Cha on May 02, 2011 3:56 PM:

    Whatever..it's another bush mess that President Obama has cleaned up and he's been working on that unemployment thing too. Doesn't happen so fast when our couttry's infrastructure was abandoned for 8 years to bomb and then build up Iraq's.

    I know that if bin laden hadn't been killed..the gop candidates would try to "hang this around his neck", too.

  • hornblower on May 02, 2011 4:00 PM:

    I think that weighing the political value of this event so soon is unseemly. To me it shows that many people who make a living by such commentary should get another job.

  • Tom Allen on May 02, 2011 4:03 PM:

    So which is it, Danny? Are Jane Hamsher and I omnipotent vote-meisters who cost Democrats the House in 2010, or are we an impotent minority of liberals whose opinions don't matter? It's kind of amazing that Obamabots can believe both things at once.

    But hey, better you attack people to your left than people to your right. That's the DLC motto!

  • Tom Allen on May 02, 2011 4:20 PM:

    @Tom Allen

    You are a small but very vocal minority within the progressive/liberal wing of the democratic party. Those of you that are full on the Hamsher bandwagon are now actively trying to mobilize other progressives/liberals against the president and democratic politicians.

    In this, you are dangerous & your work is to the detriment of progressive interests and to the benefit of conservative interests.

    Cheers, buddy.

  • Danny on May 02, 2011 4:21 PM:

    previous comment by me, screwed up filling in the forms..

  • James Wimberley on May 02, 2011 4:24 PM:

    I'm inclined to agree with Drum that there's little hurrah upside for Obama in this. However if he had failed by election day to get Bin Laden, this would have been used against him as part of a damaging "soft on terrorism" narrative. This line of attack is now not credible outside Wingnuttia. Success defuses a landmine.

  • cmdicely on May 02, 2011 4:35 PM:

    The common comparison today is to George H.W. Bush riding high in 1991 after the first Gulf War, only to see his fortunes falter badly a year later. I'm not sure I buy the comparison -- Obama's a better candidate than Bush, and if there's a Bill Clinton in the GOP field, he or she is hiding well -- but the point about unpredictable reversals is worth remembering.

    To be fair, Bill Clinton wasn't initially considered a particularly strong candidate, either, so the "original" Bill Clinton was just as well hidden then as the Republican equivalent would be hidden now.

    What I'm imagining is Obama and his supporters offering voters a list of accomplishments from his first term, and it's going to be a doozy: ended the Great Recession

    This will be a losing argument unless economic conditions have improved to the point that not only are abstract aggregate numbers looking better, but the situation on the ground as felt by most people is palpably better. I don't see that as particularly likely under the current trends, particularly given the distribution of power in the Congress. It seems far more likely that whose vision -- the President's or the opposition's -- of how to improve conditions that still seem very bad to most people is better will be an active question on election day than that the President will have a clear and strong claim to have successfully dealt with the downturn.

  • Doug on May 02, 2011 9:48 PM:

    re: death of OBL assisting President Obama's re-election chances.
    Certainly. Once again, Democrats show that they're the adults cleaning up the mess left behind by the Republican adolescents.

    re: Vince's two rants.
    I can't imagine why you're so upset, I've had MY pony for over two years!
    If I understand your reasoning(?), you claim that everything isn't coming up roses only because President Obama didn't do what you wanted? For example, you make no mention of the political obstacles ACA faced in the Senate and when another poster does, you ignore that. What part of the word "politics" don't you understand? Just because a President wants something included in legislation, doesn't mean it WILL be in the legislation. Or are you suggesting Democrats operate as Republicans do: use bribery and threats?
    You also ought to pay more attention to those statistics Danny posted. You, my friend, are a minority of a minority; a "progressive" who blames President Obama for not accomplishing enough. So much for "throwing his base under the bus"! Not even a speed bump, more likely. By the way, that same post ALSO meets your request for a "substantive" reply.
    I don't support President Obama because he's "better than the alternative". Good lord, a turnip sitting in the Oval Office would be "better than the alternative"! I support President Obama because of what HAS been accomplished and what, with luck, can STILL be accomplished.
    Unless you're able to quote NAMED sources (where and when would be nice, too) about President Obama's alleged failures, you'll probably continue to be viewed by many as a concern troll since you're not offering FACTS, only your PERSONAL feelings.
    And "personal feelings" posts are fair game...

  • Stephen Wend on May 02, 2011 10:00 PM:

    Getting OBL will help the President. Taken alone, it will not win the election. What it will do is blunt right wing attacks on his leadership. The sound bite is:Our boy did what your boy failed to do. And for all the credit given to the security services (rightfully so), the Obama administration did not put forward a temporary policy which allowed OBL and his people to escape at Torra Borra.
    Sometimes, keeping you mouth shut and working quietly and assiduously works out a little better than simply trash talking. The lunatics will never get that but the middling middle is at least capable of grasping that.

  • j_h_r on May 03, 2011 8:43 AM:

    He's now done two things Republicans could never do, he beat the Clintons and he got Bin Laden.

    genius

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