News / USA

Obama Likely to Get Political Boost from bin Laden Demise

Crowds gathers outside the White House in Washington early Moday to celebrate after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, May 2, 2011
Crowds gathers outside the White House in Washington early Moday to celebrate after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, May 2, 2011

In the wake of the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. commandos in Pakistan, there were spontaneous outpourings of celebration and national pride in New York and Washington.

A tourist from Texas celebrated with New Yorkers in Times Square.

"I can not tell you the national pride that I feel here and visiting from Texas, being in Times Square when this was announced there is so much pride for our country," said the tourist.

New Yorker Bill Doyle lost his son Joey in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He told ABC News that relatives of the 9-11 victims appreciated the fact that President Obama followed through on his pledge to hunt down bin Laden.

"Mr. Obama, President Obama, he made it known when he got elected that this was going to be his priority and kept his word. He got him," Doyle said.

There was praise too from congressional Republicans, some of whom have been critical of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of the war on terror.

New York Congressman Peter King spoke on NBC’s Today program.

"This whole situation began under President Bush and it was continued and now carried to a conclusion, a very successful conclusion, by President Obama and he deserves full credit," King said.

Democrats were quick to give the president credit as well, including Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.

"This though is a direct result of President Obama’s efforts to refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan as a central battleground in our fight against terror," Reid said.

In announcing bin Laden’s death, President Obama said he hoped the news would help bring the country closer together.

"Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed," said the president. "Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

A screen grab from FBI's Most Wanted website taken May 2, 2011 shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased
A screen grab from FBI's Most Wanted website taken May 2, 2011 shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased

To many Americans, Osama bin Laden was the face of evil and public enemy number one in the war on terror.

Matt Dallek teaches politics at the University of California’s Washington Center. Dallek says bin Laden’s death serves as a welcome counterpoint to years of frustration in the U.S.-led manhunt for the al-Qaida leader.

"The wounds have become less raw, so to speak," said Dallek. "I think what you are seeing in the streets of Washington and New York, at least, is this kind of emotional catharsis and I think it brings back all kinds of memories for the country. Capturing him, I think, is psychologically for the country a big deal."

Like many political analysts, Dallek sees some immediate political benefit for the president in the wake of bin Laden’s death, especially in rebutting longstanding Republican critics of the president’s handling of the war on terror.

"The attack, right, is that he is too weak and that he is leading from behind and I think this changes the dynamic and I think it changes that debate in substantive and lasting ways," said Dallek.

Some experts believe the demise of bin Laden gives President Obama a huge advantage heading into next year’s re-election campaign.

Robert Guttman is with the School for Advanced International Studies in Washington.

"It certainly gives a boost to President Obama’s re-election chances. In fact, if you ask me I would say the election is over as of today," said Guttman.

Most analysts are not prepared to go that far. Matt Dallek cautions that economic issues, not foreign policy, remain the top voter concerns looking ahead to the 2012 campaign.

"It is hard to know how much the American people going into the voting booth in November of 2012 are going to remember about Osama bin Laden when they pull the lever to vote for president,"

The expected boost comes at a good time for the president. His public approval ratings in several polls have declined recently mainly over concerns about the economy and rising gas prices.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs