Insiders Agree Obama Successfully Capitalized on bin Laden Killing
National Journal Political Insiders from both parties agreed for the most part that the Obama campaign was able to successfully capitalize on the killing of Osama bin Laden--with a few caveats.
President Obama scored his signature foreign policy achievement a little over a year ago when he authorized the Navy SEAL raid that led to bin Laden's death in Pakistan.
While a majority of Republican and Democratic Insiders said the campaign had been able to either very effectively or somewhat effectively use the anniversary for political gain, a good number also expressed reservations about over-politicizing a military accomplishment.
How effectively has President Obama's reelection campaign capitalized on the killing of Osama bin Laden?
"The President is playing his Commander-in-Chief card, which in this instance is an ace," said one Democratic insider. "[Bin Laden's] dead. 'Nuff said. Ask Bushie how that feels," another chimed in.
"He did it. Bush had nine years and did not," a Republican insider agreed.
Another Democrat pointed out that the achievement transcends the push-and-pull of campaign cycles and electoral politics. "Sure, it helps the campaign, but it is important that America is reminded that we can still do things right and that the commitments made in previous administrations are carried through."
Others, however, perceived that the President had gone too far in taking credit for the killing and that the campaign's treatment of the anniversary could have been more graceful.
"This is tricky. Everybody knows about it. Restating the obvious could easily backfire, as in, 'Fine, what else have you done for me?'" one Democrat said. "The trick is to make sure the focus is on what this says about the president, as in focused, determined, disciplined, patient."
Republican insiders were harsher on the White House.
"Bragging diminishes Obama's signature achievement. He made the easy decision to go for OBL. Shame on him when American people know it was the skill of our military," one said. "Should not be a partisan political prop."
"Only a White House this politically flat-footed could take a solemn but proud national moment and turn it into a garish political spectacle," another said. A third suggested that foreign policy accomplishments--even one this significant--couldn't make up for Obama's shortcoming on the home front. "Killing OBL doesn't make a gallon of gas under $4 or put food on the table. You can drag a corpse along only for so long."
A few took particular offense to the Obama campaign's web video that suggested Republican rival Mitt Romney, his party's presumptive nominee, would not have made the same call had he been the sitting president.
"It's one thing to boast a bit about getting OBL ... but to say that your opponent might not have made the same decision? Aren't there enough ways to attack Romney's record to avoid attacking things that weren't part of his record?" a Democratic insider said.
Other Democrats, however, believed that there should have been more dancing in the end zone, so to speak.
"The Bush administration would have made the anniversary a national holiday," one said. "Democrats tend to understate successes."