Makes me happy, but for reasons that have nothing to do with Obama, party politics, or 2012.
Obama’s approval rating is now at 46 percent, equal to his approval rating in the last tracking poll conducted before Obama addressed Americans late on May 1 and informed them of bin Laden’s death. Forty-four percent of Americans now disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president.
According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating crested at 52 percent after the bin Laden killing. His disapproval rating never fell lower than 40 percent.
Obama’s bounce is smaller in magnitude and shorter in duration than the bumps enjoyed by other presidents over the past 70 years, according to a study by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. For example, George W. Bush received a 15-point bump after the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003 — a bounce that lasted seven weeks.
The bounce was short because Bin Laden hasn’t mattered much for a long time, which is a wonderful thing to realize. Yeah, granted, economy misery would have softened O’s bounce under any circumstances, but if Al Qaeda had knocked down the Sears Tower six months ago, you’d best believe that killing OBL now would have meant more than a two-week blip in the president’s approval rating. As it is, fully 84 percent in Politico’s new poll say the Bin Laden raid will make “no difference” to their vote next year. Ten years of aggressive U.S. counterterrorism and egregious miscalculations by Al Qaeda have given us the luxury of seeing Bin Laden’s death more as a case of long-delayed justice finally delivered than the neutralization of any imminent threat. Tony Karon at Time wrote a memorable piece about that a few days ago, reflecting on how pathetic life had become for the world’s most famous terrorist:
Wait for the courier to return from a distant internet cafe with a thumbdrive, containing responses to his missives and advice. Wait – largely in vain – for news of new atrocities inflicted by his supporters on the cities of the West. Wait for responses from key lieutenants, only to learn that they had been killed by his enemies. Wait to see anyone respond to his exhortation that they bomb Los Angeles or kill President Obama. Wait with dwindling hope for the Arab masses to take up his call to jihad, only to discover that when they did finally rise up against their Western-backed regimes, they wanted nothing to with him. Wait to see dated images of himself to appear on TV, and wonder why they were becoming increasingly few and far between. Wait, and while waiting, jot down his increasingly muddled ideas — “strategic musings” rather than operational plans, as one U.S. intelligence operative put it, and wait some more. Wait, in vain, for the Muslim world to treat him with the same importance that the Americans did. Wait for the thumb drive. Wait for October…
In his fantasy about his own historic significance, bin Laden had embraced death and assumed it would catch up with him sooner or later. But by the time he died, he may have been unsettlingly aware that history had already meted out what in his mind would have been a harsher sentence – oblivion.
He waited 10 years for another spectacular attack on the U.S. He never got one. Karon, in fact, explains better than I did why I’d rather not see the Bin Laden photos released: To circulate those pics is to lend him some of the grandeur he craved, even at our moment of victory. We’re showing off our kill because he mattered. Except he didn’t really matter, not anymore. For all the rhetoric over the past two weeks about how OBL was supposedly still commanding Al Qaeda, there’s little hard evidence that that was so. He reportedly urged his followers in messages to think big and hit America hard, and … no one really listened. In the end, he was a guy wrapped in a blanket with his hand down his pants watching old videos of himself in his glory days. He deserved that pathetic denouement as much as he deserved the bullet in his eye.
So, no bounce for The One, but it’s for the best of reasons. If you missed it on Saturday, here’s SNL with a gag that already seems dated.