I’ve been surfing around this morning looking at reactions to the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. The executive summary: Hooray! followed by But it will make no difference in the 2012 elections. The campaign next year will focus on domestic issues, not terrorism.
See Nate Silver’s analysis of the political implications of the death of bin Laden, with which I largely agree. President Obama should get a boost in popularity that will disappear before election day 2012.
On the other hand, rightfully or not, the death of bin Laden ought to bolster public perception of President Obama as a serious commander in chief and someone who is “tough” on national security. This will be reinforced in a few weeks when we observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
It strikes me that none of the likely Republican nominees has much in the way of real or imagined national security credentials. I don’t think any of them served in the military or is associated in the public mind with any past national security crisis. And one of them is named “Tim.”
This event serves as a reminder to the public that the job of president is serious and requires more than just an ability to insult Democrats.
And while Sarah Palin and others can stand on the sidelines and belittle Obama’s foreign policies (which I do not necessarily endorse myself) all they like, as Nate says the death of bin Laden “neuters” the issue. Their whines and tweets and chest thumpings seem all the more pathetic now.
How will the Right respond? I predict they will belittle Obama for taking credit for the death of bin Laden in his speech last night. It was U.S. forces that did the job, they will say, not President Obama. They will probably try to give credit to George W. Bush somehow, with a nod to President Reagan. See also Steve M. I think most voters will perceive this posturing as sour grapes, though.
This is not to say that future events couldn’t change the current political dynamic, and drastically. It also is not to say that killing bin Laden changes anything in the real world at this point. He’s been more of a symbolic figure than a real leader for several years.
Update: Great photographs of the celebration in lower Manhattan.
Update: Little Lulu slams President Obama for receiving credit for death of bin Laden.
Update: Recalling some 2008 campaign talking points.