Hoping to see a boost in President Barack Obama’s poll numbers, Democrats are messaging that it has been under the current administration’s watch that terrorists Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan were killed. No doubt, President Obama deserves credit for continuing the Bush administration policy of taking the war to the terrorists. One can only imagine that Adam Gadahn, an American jihadist who is wanted for treason and on the FBI most wanted terrorist list, is not sleeping well these days.
According to ABC News, former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, “It will accrue to the president’s benefit, because it does show progress.” He added, “This happened on the president’s watch, and he deserves credit for that.”
ABC news interviewed others who believe the latest action of the Obama administration with al-Awlaki could actually hurt GOP primary candidates who want to run against President Obama:
If nothing else, says Tufts University’s Richard Eichenberg, an expert on public opinion and foreign policy, Obama’s success removes a perennial Republican argument: that Democrats are weak on national security.
In fact, Eichenberg says, “it has the potential to highlight the lack of experience that the Republicans (running for president) have on national security issues.”
Politico spoke with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is urging the president to highlight a strong national security platform:
“His main platform should be, ‘I protected America from terrorists,’ and he should cite the death of the two terrorists and that he was brave and determined to make it happen, and he did,” said Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who, like Obama, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. “He should run on foreign policy, easing tensions around the world, America regaining its respect abroad, and homeland security and terrorism. That’s what should be his main campaign address.”
However, is this really the case? While it is certainly important for any candidate or incumbent to show strength in the area of national security, nevertheless it does not guarantee an election or a re-election for anyone. Just ask George H.W. Bush.
Mr. Bush had an 88 percent approval rating after Desert Storm ended and he failed to convince voters to put him in the White House for a second term. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in 1992 was 7.5 percent. This number is a far cry from the current 9.1 percent unemployment number President Obama is dealing with today.
According to The New York Times:
Since World War II, no president has been re-elected with a jobless rate higher than 7.2 percent. That was the number when Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory in 1984; in the 40 years before that, no president had been re-elected with an unemployment rate of more than 5.3 percent.
Although Americans at large react positively to news about taking out a terrorist operative like bin Laden or al-Awlaki, President Obama only received a brief bounce in the polls after bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six. In the end, voters are more than likely to vote for the candidate they believe will improve the economy and lower the unemployment rate as opposed to anything else right now.
This may have more to do with Americans believing that, constitutionally, it is the inherent job of the government to protect us from dangerous foreign elements in the world, whereas government interference in our economy through more regulations and taxes will be looked at with suspicion. If Democrats believe Obama’s ace in the hole is dealing with terrorism, they should remember James Carville’s fateful words during Bill Clinton’s 1992 camapign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”