Saturday, May 07, 2011

Public opinion bounces come and go

George H.W. Bush had a 90% approval rating in February, 1991, on the heals of winning the first war for the U.S since WWII (Korea was a draw). In November, 1992, he lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, who in February of 1991 was the little known governor of Arkansas.

The bounce President Obama received following the killing of Bin Laden won't last nearly as long as that enjoyed by George The Greater in 1991.

But what will last for Obama is the gravitas he gains from the successful mission. In making the daring decision (ask Jimmy Carter about the cost of a mission that ends in flames if you don't believe it was a daring decision) to send in commandos over bombing, Obama destroyed the favorite GOP narrative of him has a weak and indecisive leader on the world stage endlessly debating himself as the terrorist win.

In an instant Obama became a serious and decisive Commander-in-chief prepared to take bold moves to safeguard America. GOP candidates -- former Governors and Congressman -- will look small in comparison when issues of foreign policy are debated in the coming campaign.

And this is very significant. Since the cold war, the GOP has enjoyed success in presidential politics portraying Democrats as weak leaders not capable of protecting the American people. Republicans fare much worse when the nation is focused on domestic issues. If you don't agree with me, consider this: Since the Berlin Wall fell and the cold war ended, Republicans have only won one presidential election -- 2004 when George W. Bush won re-election by the smallest margin of any incumbent president in U.S. history (Gore received 543895 more votes than Bush in 2000).

If GOP contenders can't gain traction with voters painting Obama as a weak leader that endangers Americans, what do they have to talk about?

When the nation is focused on economic and domestic issues, Republicans have a much harder time. And Congressional Republicans haven't done their 2012 presidential hopefuls any favors making the elimination of Medicare to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest their central economic agenda.

Make no mistake, Obama is vulnerable and beatable in this economy, with high gas prices and high unemployment. But when the campaign is in full swing, Obama's popularity will be measured against his GOP opponents, and when you look at the election in those terms, you have to like Obama's odds.

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