After the initial wave of jubilation that followed the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, the political analysis has begun and the liberal media consensus seems clear: this is an enormous political victory for the President, and it all but guarantees a 2012 election victory for President Obama.
The first part of this is true; it must be conceded that this is an enormous feather in the cap of Mr. Obama, and while there are those of us who will roll our eyes at his failure to acknowledge the contribution of his predecessor to the operation, the feather is deserved. Consequently, we can expect to see a large boost in the polls for Obama, with BBC News already reporting than the bounce could be as much as 10 points. Yet how long this will last remains to be seen.
However, while Obama will almost certainly receive a short-term popularity boost, in terms of the 2012 election there are signs that bin Laden's death may benefit the Republicans rather than the Democrats. There are four main reasons why this may happen:
(1) The War on Terror
After the celebrations at Ground Zero have died down and Americans begin to look at the broader picture, the significance of bin Laden's death will be seen for what it is -- the crowning victory of the War on Terror. The War on Terror has received a lot of criticism from the left, including Obama himself. Yet the anti-terror campaign started by Bush, so derided back in 2005, has eventually seen victories in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan/Pakistan. Additionally, it has been revealed that it was through interrogation techniques (that Obama condemned) at Guantanamo Bay (that Obama wanted to close) from which came the tip that lead to the discovery of bin Laden. The tactics that the Republicans supported from 2001 -- and were only begrudgingly accepted to an extent by Obama in 2009 -- have proved brutally successful. In short, Republican tactics have paid off, even if under a Democrat President.
(2) American Strength
The message that booms out of the death of bin Laden is the now fulfilled promise of President Bush back in 2001 to "hunt down and punish those responsible." The announcement of bin Laden's death shows that this promise did not overestimate American strength. It shows that America can still be the best in the world, and will track down and destroy those who attack her. This is in direct contrast to the message from Obama and friends, who have been scaling back America's international presence and denying American exceptionalism. This display of American greatness will not warm Americans to Obama's other foreign policy aims, which rely on a denial of that very greatness.
Very closely related to point two, a belief in American exceptionalism and the strength of America naturally leads to a stronger patriotism in the nation. As with all victories in conflicts, there will be many more American flags being flown today than there were last week, and with the exception of a few hardcore Democrats, the chants in the spontaneous celebrations outside the White House and in New York were not chants of "Obama, Obama" but "USA, USA." A nation high on patriotism will not only reject Obama's normal foreign policy, but also the Democrat view of history; whereby America is responsible for all the evil in the world. Without this view being diffused amongst the population, the Democrats have a much weaker basis of support for their apologetic affirmative action policies and compensatory welfare schemes, and will find a limited audience for their calls for "change." An America that is proud of itself does not vote Democrat.
(4) The Hard Left
In a situation where Obama is trying to present himself as a centrist, his hard left base could prove his undoing. Although there have been few peeps of dissatisfaction over bin Laden's death from the American left so far, you can guarantee there will be more. The American left will be biding their time, waiting for everyone to cool down, but one can bet they are not happy with this show of American military might. Indeed, Michael Moore has already noted his discontent. For an indication of what is to come, take a look at the British left, who are more confident in their anti-Americanism. The British "Stop the War Coalition" has already released a grumpy press statement, The Morning Star has described bin Laden as "a victim of US military operations" and there are a whole range of left-wing writers getting queasy over the way it was handled.
If this left-wing stream of thought picks up and infects the Democrat Party, then swarms of voters will turn away in disgust. This is a time of joy for America, and if the hard left infect the Democrat Party with their un-American regret for this action, then it could be a death knell for 2012.
It cannot be doubted that things may have become trickier for the Republicans for 2012. Yet it is also highly possible that the above factors could turn a great deal of independent Americans into conservatives, and the public mood may just turn Republican for 2012. Now is not the time to give up.