Opinion: With Osama bin Laden dead, Obama’s job approval will jump this much (for this long)


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Americans do not like losing. They also don’t like not winning, those seemingly stalemated situations that look and feel murky.

Above most everything else, Americans like winning.

President Obama’s community helpfulness in places like Libya, now enroute to awkward quagmire status because Kadafi hasn’t lasted 42 years by accident, was dragging Obama down in the polls to near Jimmy Carter numbers just as today’s Democrat launched his 2012 fundraising. Obama’s tardy explanation for the Libya war produced no polling bounce for him.


The lame job situation. And weak recovery. And the deficit. And sagging consumer confidence. And his own stumbles. And the endless Afghan war weren’t helping either.

So, not that any such thing would ever cross a president’s mind, but how better to improve the political situation at home than enjoy a national security success abroad?

Kill a bad guy overseas and watch the deadly real reality show on live video via SEALcam in the White House (see photo above) Sunday afternoon. Then call a dramatic presidential address late on a Sunday evening with the side benefit of disrupting the NBC show of that annoying Donald Trump.

The intentional death of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden early Monday morning Pakistan time at the hands of Navy SEALs who don’t shoot to wound touched a national nerve of retribution and celebration.

Yes, a helicopter went down, as it did during Carter’s unsuccessful attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran. But this president’s orders succeeded.

President Obama actually could have whacked Osama back in March without risking American lives simply by ordering a bombing run or two over the Osama compound in Abbotabad.

But that would have vaporized anybody inside or nearby and not produced an identifiable body to snuff future Elvis is alive stories.


Thirty hours later Osama’s body is reportedly sleeping with the fishes somewhere. But still no photo or positive ID proof released, already giving rise to online ‘deather’ conspiracies. However, it’s official if the FBI changes Osama’s status on its Top Ten list from ‘Wanted’ to ‘Deceased.’

Here’s another certainty: President Obama is about to experience a substantial jump in his job approval, at least on national security.

The very smart folks over at Public Opinion Strategies have been studying presidential popularity bumps for a very long time. Their research goes back to President Roosevelt’s counterintuitive bump in approval after the humiliating Pearl Harbor disaster.

And they can now predict that Obama is likely to experience a 13-point bounce in approval. That would get the guy up from the low 40s to back above the symbolic 50% approval level.

And Stephen Kinney and his crew can also predict that Obama’s bump in approval will last about 22 weeks.

That’s roughly until the first week of October when, the Chicago crowd desperately hopes, the sagged economy will be unsagging sufficiently to deny feuding Republicans a palpable issue for their primary/caucus contests that will dominate political news come next winter.

In terms of duration Obama’s bump would be on the lower end of POTUS approval jumps, about the same as John F. Kennedy’s 12 point jump after the Cuban missile crisis but not as good as George W. Bush’s 15 point jump after capturing the also departed Saddam Hussein.

Kennedy’s bump lasted a good long 40 weeks. Bush’s Saddam bounce endured only seven weeks, but the 43rd president’s bounce after his handling of the 9/11 attacks lasted two years.


Yes, SEALs were in on the raid, but aides hail Obama’s office bravery

What if the dead guy wasn’t really Osama bin Laden?

Rush Limbaugh on Osama bin Laden’s death: ‘Thank God for President Obama’

Donald Trump praises Obama on Osama bin Laden’s death

The death of Osama bin Laden: Statements by 2 presidents who hunted him

-- Andrew Malcolm

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