May 5, 2011
Why Obama's Polling Bounce is So Anemic
According to several different sources, President Obama's poll bounce from the Osama raid has been far less than might have been expected. It's not likely to get any better for him, and here's a short checklist as to the reasons why:
1) The Dukakis factor - It's nearly forgotten today (for that matter, Dukakis is nearly forgotten today), but in the 1988 election campaign, Michael Dukakis, the Massachusetts governor running against George Bush the Elder, posed as the commander of a tank in an effort to toughen up his image. Ridicule was hip deep. It's something the same here. If a man is unmilitary, he is unmilitary, and no effort to turn him into Patton will work. The "Warrior President" schtick is going to hurt Obama in the long run. (At about the same time, Maggie Thatcher was also photographed driving a tank. Now that was scary.)
2) The Bush 41 Factor - Old George won the '88 election, whipped the pants off of Saddam Hussein in '91, and was ejected from office in favor of Bill "Draft-dodger" Clinton a year later. His popularity rating right after the First Gulf War was over 90%. It appears that military triumphs for non-serving politicians (as opposed to actual soldiers like Grant or Eisenhower) have a definite shelf-life. Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator reminds us that the same fate befell Winston Churchill in 1945.
3) The Soros Factor - The stay-at-homes hired by Old Creepy to monitor comment pages and post zingers have been working overtime the past couple days. The formula seems to be "Bush failed, Obama succeeded, and that's the end of it." Actually, it isn't: according to Gallup, most Americans (89%) want the military given most of the credit, followed by the CIA, (62%), Obama (35%), and George W. Bush (22%). Now, 22% ain't chopped liver, particularly for a man so thoroughly traduced over the past three years. Americans don't like this kind of tactic, and if the left were smart, they'd drop it. They won't, though.
4) The Economic Factor - "It's the economy, stupid." It will still be the economy next November.
5) The Revenge Factor - The Jihadis have to hit back. It is either that or a long slide into irrelevance. I am not at all certain our betters grasp this. The attacks will be atrocious, they will likely be multiple, and they will be carried out kamikaze-style. If the administration cannot stop them, that's one thing, and the public may well understand. But if security efforts are as incompetent as they were in the attempted Christmas bombing and at Fort Hood, then beware the anger of the voters.
6) The Gaddafi Factor - If Osama, why not Gaddafi? I, for one, would like an answer.
7) The Burial Factor - The immediate burial at sea seemed reasonable at the time but now reeks of the too-clever. It did little to calm Muslim criticism (nothing would) and instead has become the kernel around which a thousand conspiracy theories can flourish. Muslims will be working overtime on this, also the wilder thickets of the American left.
8) The Screwup Factor - No, it wasn't his wife he used as a shield. And he wasn't packing either. What else? You'd think with a story this important, they'd at least get the narrative straight. This, too, will set the conspiracy bonfires blazing high.
9) The Obama Factor - He slept on it? For sixteen hours? This is crazy. It's also typical of the way Obama does things, as we've seen all too many times. Letting the boys at the sharp end sweat it out an extra night before going in. Have I used "unmilitary" yet? Then how about "indecisive"?
10) The Obama Factor #2 - This could also be called the "I" factor. More use of the personal pronoun by any leader since Ashurbanipal. Obama used "I" something like 25 times in his speech, while mentioning the military four times, and Bush not once. This did not go over well, and probably explains why his bounce has been so feeble. The main problem for Obama in 2012 is that he'll be running not only against an actual opponent but also against "I."
We could go on. (There's a "Geronimo factor" too. It seems that American Indians don't like use of that code word, and who can blame them? And a "Pakistan factor." The ISI and probably the army were obviously involved up to their ears. What's O going to do about that? Sleep on it?) But that'll do. It appears clear that Obama has taken this gift from heaven, the CIA, and George W. Bush and fumbled it. There's right ways of doing things, and there's the Obama way. But it seems that we're well aware of that.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and the author of Death by Liberalism.