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Political Boost From Bin Laden Not Clear


President George H.W. Bush gestures as he addresses the Air War College troops at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, April 13, 1991. Bush vowed to provide massive relief to Kurdish refugees in Iraq but pledged that no American soldier will be "shoved into a civil war in Iraq that's been going on for ages." (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)  (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

There is something missing in the current discussion about President Obama's political use of the killing of Osama bin Laden. So much of the debate has been about whether there is something unseemly about this. As if he is the first president to try to ride the coattails of a military or foreign policy success all the way to an election win. Yes, the White House hopes to find votes in the successful apprehension of the mastermind of the attacks that killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. And, yes, they will raise questions about how a President Mitt Romney might not have risen to the occasion.

But Obama is no different from any of his predecessors in this. Certainly, Harry Truman in 1948 reminded voters that he was commander in chief when Hitler and
Tojo fell. And George W. Bush's campaign was not at all subtle about using 9-11 for political ends in the 2002 and 2004 elections. His chief strategist, Karl Rove, even boasted of it in a January 2002 address to a Republican luncheon in Austin. "We can go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," he said. "Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our communities and our families safe."

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