We’ve had a week and a half to digest the death of Osama Bin Laden. I’ve written about my thoughts on the matter here, here, here, here and here. What I’ve stayed away from is political analysis, mainly because I wanted to stay with the moral consequences of the event instead of the political ones.
Still, the killing of bin Laden is an undeniably political event with political consequences. It would be easy to crow about President Obama’s 60 percent approval rating, but such things are fleeting. George H. W. Bush was flying high at this point in his administration because of the Gulf War. Eighteen months later, he was conceding to Bill Clinton.
Why is that? Say it with me folks. “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Will Obama suffer the same fate? Let’s see how the economy is going in eighteen months.
Now, I’m certainly not writing off the elimination of Bin Laden as having political impact. I think it has already had a huge political impact.
The first area where I see an impact is in the public perception of Obama. When Obama gave his May 1 speech, he looked as calm, confident, and, well, presidential as anyone in long time. Not only that, the details of the raid paint a picture of a hands-on leader who is willing to take a huge risk, but wants to do it right and is acutely conscious of the risk he is taking with the lives of American soldiers. That all this was going while Obama was releasing his birth certificate and roasting his rivals at the White House Correspondence Association Dinner without tipping his hand to what was happening on the national security front gives new meaning to the term “No Drama Obama.” The bottom line is that Obama comes out of this looking like a giant. Agree or disagree with his politics or actions, but you can’t deny that Americans saw the most presidential-looking president in a couple of generations.
This is going to have a big imact on the Presidential race. The time is coming for Republicans to make their decisions about whether or not they are going to run. Now, the Republican field is looking pretty weak anyway, but I wouldn’t bet on a serious candidate with a real possibility of winning wasting that opportuniy against such a strong incumbent.
Is Obama unbeatable in 2012? No, a lot can happen, but he’s on pretty high ground at the moment.