Obama comforted by huge boost in approval
Polls and pundits gave President Obama a big cheer before latest twists in the Abbottabad story
Even Barack Obama's sworn enemies at Fox News welcomed his orders to attack and kill the man responsible for 9/11 as a "courageous decision" and "one of the finest operations you could ever expect".
This is a complete game-changer, according to Economist's 'Democracy in America' blog. "The current Democratic administration has acquired a national-security credential," it wrote. "This changes fundamental aspects of the political narrative."
The 'game-changing' nature of Obama's decision was reflected in the first opinion poll, published earlier this week by the Washington Post. It registered a nine-point leap in Obama's approval rating, from 47 to 56 per cent – his best rating since his first year in office.
Andrew Sullivan, writing in the Daily Beast, couldn't sing Obama's praises enough, positing the situation as: "a man who represents the human continuum of the developing and developed worlds [defeating] a man who seeks only one world and Shariah rule over all of it"
Through decisive action, Sullivan continues, Obama has proved to his many detractors that he "is no weakling, no terror-lover, no alien. He is as American as every new passport holder and every ancient Southern or Yankee family."
Even for those slightly less enthused, the event was a victory, however temporary. "A political rule of thumb is when people feel good about their country, they feel good about their president," said Lynn Sweet in the Chicago Sun-Times. She also pointed out that this was an opportunity for the Democrats to swing those crucial fence-sitters, who can now "justify keeping or renewing their 'relationship' with Obama".
Nate Silver at the New York Times agreed that, "the killing of Osama bin Laden is going to be perceived as unambiguously good news by almost all Americans". While Red Wilson in the National Journal said that Bin Laden's death was "undeniably the best political moment of [Obama's] first term".
These reactions do not take into account, however, the very latest "story change" from the Obama administration. Having admitted that Bin Laden was not armed when he was shot dead, and having withdrawn the original charge that the al-Qaeda leader used one of his wives as a shield, CIA chief Leon Pannetta has now made it clear that there was no satellite feed to the White House from a US Navy Seal's helmet once the troops entered Bin Laden's home.
This has raised questions about what the President and his team were actually watching when they were photographed on Sunday purportedly watching the killing. As Alexander Cockburn asks in his column for The First Post today, Obama and his team "could have been watching basketball replays".
In the Financial Times, John Gapper argues that the media must share responsibility for the "half-baked truths" that have followed the Abbottabad raid.
"In one way, the Bin Laden case is a classic example of the fog of war that always envelops news reporting – the only people who know what happened are the Navy Seals and the Pentagon, and they are motivated to embroider the facts for propaganda purposes," writes Gapper.
"We were initially told that Bin Laden died using his wife as a human shield and that he was armed, neither of which was true.
"These myths duly appeared all over the next day's newspapers, along with the half-baked story – fulfilling the wish for real life to be like a Hollywood film – that Mr Obama watched the raid live on video. No matter how grizzled or sceptical the news editor, a story is sometimes too good to resist."
Will Obama’s approval rating start to drop with all the story changes? Possibly. But as the Huffington Post's Jon Ward puts it: "Any boost is better than none, and the White House's challenge of sustaining momentum is preferable to having to generate it in the first place."
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