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Why did Obama's Osama bin Laden poll boost get buried at sea so quickly too?

May 16, 2011 |  2:42 pm


Well, the SEALs' Pakistan raid may have gone as planned.

But the anticipated boost for President Obama in the nation's job approval polls crashed like that lost helicopter on the Osama bin Laden compound wall.

History shows that presidents usually receive positive bounces in approval polls after major national security events, even bad ones like Pearl Harbor.

Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, experienced a 15-point bounce for seven weeks for capturing but not even killing Saddam Hussein. That dictator decision was left to the courts. After 9/11, Bush got a 35-point bounce that lasted two years.

Based on those historical patterns Public Opinion Strategies predicted that Obama would enjoy a 13-point bounce that would likely last into early October.


According to a new Gallup tracking poll just out, Obama's poll bounce was six points. It lasted two weeks.

And the Democrat is already back down to the ...

... 46% approval he had before he watched the SEALs raid on satellite cam the night of May 1. Forty-four percent disapprove now.

All presidents will say, if cornered, that they pay no attention to public opinion polls, none whatsoeveButton Obama Blaming Bush since 2002r. One-hundred percent of them are fibbing with a margin of error of plus or minus zero percentage points. Obama didn't just tire of that pesky birther issue.

Like Donald Trump, Obama and his political strategists saw those puzzled suspicions starting to gain traction among nonconspiratorial Americans, wondering if, in fact, the long-form birth certificate was so silly, why was the ex-state senator still hiding it? So, like a pragmatic pol, he released it. And, guess what; the issue went away.

It is a long time -- 540 days, to be exact -- before the 2012 presidential election, although the cement will be drying by the summer of 2012.

Still plenty of time for Obama to recoup as Ronald Reagan did and Jimmy Carter didn't. Or, as late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien suggested, for Obama to kill Osama bin Laden two more times.

Yes, the rapid meltdown of Obama's approval boost this month was connected to the serial botched recountings of the episode by Obama aides trying to pat the boss on the back too hard too quickly.

But it also indicates the stubborn power of more fundamental political challenges facing him and his team of fellow Chicago operatives.

These are mainly economic problems, which polls also show have been and remain the American public's top priority since even before Obama launched his nagging healthcare drive.

The unemployment rate, which inched back up to 9% last month.

Most obviously gasoline prices, which Americans always use as a key to how they feel about any White House administration. And a kind of Sign Gas Prices in Washington dc 5-11general, pervasive unease and uncertainty that prompts pessimism and a hesitancy to spend or invest, reflected now in lowered estimates for this year's economic growth.

Obama will no doubt retreat to his favorite argument about how he, too, is impatient, how real change takes time and what a deep economic hole he inherited. But after 846 days in office and $787 billion in lame stimulus spending, it's his economy now.

The next big Washington fight will be over raising the national debt ceiling. Maybe you heard the thunk earlier Monday when the United States reached that limit. As a helpful reminder, Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner released a statement, including;

Americans understand we simply can’t keep spending money we don’t have. Spending-driven deficits, record debt, and the threat of tax hikes are smothering our economy with uncertainty and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers. 

Recent polls indicate Americans are unhappy about raising the limit without significant spending cuts, despite the dire credit warnings.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mohammad Zubair / Associated Press; Photo illustration: Andrew Malcolm; Susan Walsh / Associated Press (gas sign in Washington).