President Obama's politically "pivotal" announcement that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden may go down as "the defining moment" of his presidency, according to Washington watchers. Obama's prospects for re-election in 2012 "skyrocketed" on one online prediction market, and pollster John Zogby says the president's approval rating could jump 10 percentage points or more. But whatever the short-term gains, will killing bin Laden be enough to assure Obama a second term 19 months from now?
This is a huge coup for Obama: The "political potency" of the president's announcement is hard to underestimate, says John Nichols in The Nation. Obama clearly tried to emphasize the personal role he played in the mission, and his team should be able to spin this "into political gold." It would be "silly" to think that the Obama love fest will "continue unhindered" through the election, but Republicans will have a much harder time "portraying the president as disengaged or dysfunctional when it comes to foreign policy."
"Obama's political coup: He heads toward 2012 as the president who did what Bush could not"
But the election will still be about the economy: Ultimately, the political ramifications of the bin Laden killing will be "minimal to nonexistent," says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. Obama can tout this on his list of accomplishments but I suspect that this intelligence would have been gathered no matter who was in the White House, so in the long run, this should be a "political non-event." Ultimately, "the economy will tell the tale in 2012."
"What Osama bin Laden's death means"
It's far too soon to say: Obama is almost certain to enjoy an approval bump, says Holly Bailey at Yahoo News. And the president "will be certain to remind voters" that he gave the order to kill the planet's most wanted terrorist. But the election is still 19 months away and history shows that such victories can be short-lived "in the heat of a re-election effort." Remember, George H. W. Bush had formidable ratings and seemed "virtually unbeatable" after the 1991 Gulf War. But his numbers started dropping as voters grew increasingly worried about the struggling economy.
"Bin Laden's death is a pivotal victory for Obama. But will it make his 2012 re-election bid any easier?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- Adam Sandler's 'Thanksgiving Song': Explaining the 22-year-old tune's pop-culture references
- Don't blame Chuck Hagel: Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster from end to end
- Chuck Hagel wasn't the problem. It's America's addiction to endless war.
- 13 vegetarian dishes for Thanksgiving
Subscribe to the Week