This week President Obama’s approval rating hit 60 percent, with fully 53 percent of Americans favoring his re-election and substantial leads over any potential Republican challenger.
And all it took was flawlessly planning and executing an absolutely brilliant military strike to kill the world’s most wanted terrorist and attain a measure of justice for 9/11. Sheesh. Tough room.
Before he walked up to the podium that Sunday night to deliver the news, America was somewhat ambivalent about its president, despite the fact that killing Bin Laden is far from the only thing Obama has done that Bush couldn’t or wouldn’t. Far from it. [See photos of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death.]
This president has passed the first significant healthcare reform in decades, historic financial and consumer protection reform, ended “don’t ask don’t tell,” and lifted the ban on embryonic stem cell research. The auto bailout he pushed through over Republican objections saved 115,000 American jobs. This week, General Motors announced plans to hire 4,000 new workers. The April jobs report showed 244,000 Americans found work, and some who have given up looking are back in the hunt. The sun is peeking through the clouds.
America’s reaction to the president’s achievements so far has been a collective “meh.” The hangover we all feel from our near economic death experience is tough to shake, and it’s got everybody in a pretty awful mood about lots of things. But then Obama got Osama.
“Defining moment” gets thrown around too easily these days, but this really was one. The conventional wisdom is that the president’s current poll numbers are a mere bounce, that there won’t be a lasting effect. That may be half right. His approval ratings may float back down a bit, but I do believe there will be a lasting effect.
In all but the looniest quarters on the right and (sadly) the left, any lingering questions about Barack Obama’s strength and patriotism should be answered. Idiots who think he was born in Kenya and “pals around with terrorists” now ought be ignored rather than indulged by the media, since it could not be any more clear that President Obama was indeed born in Hawaii and kills terrorists. People are even feeling better about the economy, according to polls conducted in recent days. A corner has been turned. [See a slide show of six potential terrorist targets.]
Without the distractions, the president’s record and the real issues that will animate the 2012 campaign should come into much sharper focus. As Republicans continue to embarrass themselves both on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail, slogging back from the Waterloo of their disastrous embrace of the Ryan budget (having discovered that Americans kinda like Medicare), the contrast could not be more clear. Barack Obama has taken the horrid hand he was dealt and is boldly leading America in a new direction.
Oh, and he got Bin Laden.