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The President’s Post-Osama Bounce



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There’s been a fair amount of commentary about whether any bounce in the polls received by President Obama due to bin Laden’s demise will be sustained. Depending on the poll, the president’s post-bin Laden bounce ranged from zero to eleven points.

Steve Hayes, whose judgment I respect, maintains that the bin Laden operation will make it more difficult for GOP challengers to portray the president as weak and befuddled on the Global War on Terror or foreign policy generally.

Perhaps. The president and his administration have been properly congratulated for the operation. It’s his (their) due; it’s what happens when there’s military success on a president’s watch.

But media reports have presented the American electorate with little evidence that the president’s actions in this affair were unique, extraordinary, or special to him, his policies, or his abilities. This isn’t to say that giving the raid the go-ahead wasn’t a high-tension, anxiety- ridden decision. No doubt it was. But there’s little to suggest that the decision was one that required exceptional judgment or discretion on the president’s part. Indeed, given the information arrayed before him (or at least the information publicly available), it would’ve been extraordinary for any president not to have authorized the assault on bin Laden’s compound — witness the justifiable criticism heaped upon the Clinton administration for its ineffectiveness pertaining to bin Laden when it had its opportunities. And that was before 9/11.

But again, Obama shouldn’t be begrudged the credit for checking the box: The Most Wanted Man in the World, sought relentlessly for nearly ten years, is within termination range of the most lethal special operators in the world, which operators are at your command. Engage? Check.

A bounce thus derived seems necessarily short-lived — especially when the front pages return to record high gas prices, high unemployment, a titanic deficit, and incontinent federal spending.

The more sustained bounce goes to the anonymous warriors and intelligence officers who not only made the raid on bin Laden’s compound possible, but executed it. Is there any doubt that today there are far more brave, tough young men who aspire to earn the trident of the Navy SEALs than there were just a few days ago?



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