Bin Laden’s death not much help to Obama now

Idaho State Journal Editorial

It’s been a year since President Obama gave Navy SEALs the green light to kill perhaps the most notorious arch enemy our nation has ever battled.

The famous raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan resulted in the terrorist leader’s death, which at the time seemed like the story of the decade.

Who would have known that a year later many Americans have put this war on terror milestone aside and are now pretty much solely focused on the direction of the economy as they decide who to support in the upcoming presidential election.

How distant May 2, 2011, seems. On that night, as news of bin Laden’s death exploded nationwide, crowds gathered in many American cities to celebrate and television newscasters couldn’t help but voice on-air glee at the fact justice had finally been served on the man responsible for the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

It seemed this watershed moment would give President Obama something more than a temporary approval rating bump, but that’s exactly what happened. For about six weeks the president’s favorability rose higher only to eventually sink as Americans again focused on the ailing economy.

The whole episode is testimony to just how important the economy is to our nation’s populace and it’s clear that things like unemployment, the direction of the housing market and the upward or downward trajectory of Wall Street are going to form the basis for how voters vote this November.

It’s kind of a sad reality, because Obama’s decision to go through with the raid on bin Laden’s compound was a gamble that could have easily cost the president his second term.

Considering that Obama and the U.S. military did not even know whether bin Laden was going to be home when Navy SEALs came knocking shows the risk involved.

If this mission had gone the way of President Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated decision to try to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980, Obama would probably be sending out resumes these days rather than running for re-election.

A failed mission to kill bin Laden, coupled with a struggling economy, would have almost certainly given Obama a seat next Carter in the hall of failed presidents.

Instead, the mission to kill bin Laden was a success, despite the fact one of the SEALs’ helicopters had to make an emergency landing and be left behind.

But with our economy still feeling like it’s mired in recession, Americans are clearly looking for help from their leader closer to home.

Make no mistake, the fate of the economy will determine whether our first black president steps down in defeat to make way for our first Mormon commander-in-chief.

Almost as much of an injustice as the extermination of bin Laden being largely forgotten by Americans is the way our president is turning such an important moment in U.S. history and in his own legacy into a political football.

Obama and his surrogates seem intent on trying to make it look as though Republican Mitt Romney would have blinked on making the call to send in the SEALs.

It’s an unusual and petty way for the president to be spending the one-year anniversary of such a landmark event in his administration.

Reducing the death of bin Laden to mere politics will only help to further minimize it in the minds of Americans.

It’s bad enough that the terrorist leader strangely evaded capture during George W. Bush’s time in office. Obama deserves mountains of praise for taking down a man who if left above ground would have certainly plotted to kill more Americans and likely succeeded.

The world’s without a doubt a better place without bin Laden, but let’s keep the politics out of it.