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Foreign Policy: The Bin Laden Bounce

February 1, 2012


Obama's potential voters might not judge him only by his success on catching the al-Qaeda mastermind, but also by the way he has been handling the American economy, writes Scott Clement.

"For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country," said U.S. President Barack Obama at the top of his State of the Union speech last week. For good measure, he closed his hourlong speech on the same note, speaking of the flag given to him by the Navy SEALs who killed the al Qaeda mastermind. And at a retreat later in the week, Vice President Joe Biden recounted to House Democrats how Obama made the decision to invade bin Laden's hiding place largely on his own, receiving little encouragement from his top advisors. A true presidential moment, we're told.

Obama and his team clearly see eliminating bin Laden as a top administration achievement. It's nearly conventional wisdom at this point that this refrain will be repeated throughout the forthcoming presidential campaign as a singular success. Who doesn't like getting bad guys? But do Americans really reward at the ballot box presidents who take down their bogeymen?

The answer may be disappointing.

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