There has been more than one casualty in America’s successful raid into Pakistan to get Osama Bin Laden. Republican chances to take back the White House are equally dead. At least for the moment.
It is hard to think of anything that can happen on the world stage, or in the American economy, that could change the atmosphere. Unemployment at 10%? Long lines at service stations? Runaway inflation? Forget it. None of that can now drain President Obama’s political equity.
Some in the media had begun to compare Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, well think again. Think what would have happened if Carter’s raid to rescue the hostages in Iran had not broken down in the desert? Think of those rescued hostages and their weeping spouses standing with Carter in the Rose Garden. Compare Obama to THAT Jimmy Carter and you get just a sense of what has happened here politically.
Remember, some pundits were harping on how Obama was really soft on Islamic Jihad, trying to pretend that there was no such thing as an “Islamic” terrorist, changing the language, bowing before a Saudi King, tilting American policy toward the Palestinians and conflicted about what to do in Libya? Now, such issues have been erased at the speed of a Ronald Reagan joke.
Barack Obama’s leadership in getting Osama Bin Laden is clear. It was Obama who took great heat in naming Leon Paneta as Director of the CIA. Paneta was a political animal who had served as chief of staff to Bill Clinton and not just chief of staff, but one of the most successful in American history. Cabinet members get listed in the Alamanc, have giant oil paintings of their faces hung in long marble hallways but in our modern presidency chiefs of staff really run the country and sometimes the world. Their political skills are finely honed. Obama wanted the best at the CIA and now we know why. He wanted something done.
Incidentally, there is no better tribute to Paneta’s political skills than his recent move to Department of Defense. If the operation to get Bin Laden were successful, he would get the credit. If it failed, if another helicopter had malfunctioned, and Pakistan had reacted to our incursion and there had been a major blow up of relations between America and an Islamic nation with nuclear weapons, well, like the Bay of Pigs, the new man had messed up. This is the sort of Nixonian genius it took to get a Bin Laden.
Likewise, Obama’s handling of expectations was superb. While George W. Bush, the master of expectations, uncharacteristically raised the bar, saying that we would get Bin Laden, even if it took a year, but implying that it was weeks away, Barack Obama learned the lesson and never said a thing beyond his early campaign promise that this should be, and would be, his priority. What has happened is a clear vindication of Obama’s decision and style.
Besides the American people themselves, and the president, Leon Paneta is the big winner. Obama could do much worse than make him his running mate in 2012. It would be a daily reminder on the campaign trail that “We got Bin Laden. It is sunshine again in America.” Just keep in mind that presidents almost never change their running mates. It is not only politically disruptive to all the players who have developed their relationships with Vice President Biden, it is an admission of sorts, that Obama could have done better last time.
And how does this huge event impact the Republican nomination process?
Potential candidates that were not sure of their commitment will now probably drop out sooner. This could mean Sarah Palin and even possibly Mike Huckabee, whose television-radio career makes him richer by the day. Meanwhile, new candidates, like Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman and Jon Huntsman may benefit from the vacuum.
Frontrunner, Mitt Romney should have an easier path to the nomination. If he still wants it. In the latest poll he was the only Republican who beat the president in a head to head contest. And that was last week. Now, the impossible quest of defeating Barack Obama will require evangelical Christians and Mormons to get along and make peace to win, which should ease the way for a Romney nomination. Romney is a Mormon, Palin and Huckabee are both evangelical Christians.
But the big winner in the GOP may just be congressman Ron Paul who leads a movement. He will lose some of his libertarian Democrat support, who will coalesce behind their newly popular president. But with Osama Bin Laden dead, Ron Paul’s call for an end to the multiple wars and millions of dollars in aid to countries like Pakistan may resonate even further. One can hear Ron Paul’s argument, “You mean we borrowed money from China and gave it to Pakistan while they protected Osama Bin Laden?” And Dr. Paul’s call for economic reform, including an audit of the FED, is now widely embraced by the American public.
The fact is this. Within 24 hours the world changed. Obama is back in the driver’s seat. If he can get an economic bounce, even a little fake, money supply bounce, he will be unbeatable. And the economic collapse of American will be postponed a few years more.