When you are the President and something goes right, you get the credit. I don’t begrudge that for a second. Most people view the killing of bin Laden as a good thing and the President has experienced a slight uptick in his polling numbers as a result.
That is the good news for the President. He better enjoy it.
There is a Wall Street term that refers to a brief uptick in the price of a declining stock that does nothing to change its ultimate trajectory. It is called a “dead cat bounce.” Obama’s Osama bump may be the political equivalent. A dead rat bounce.
A little perspective on this is in order. The President showed his uptick for sure, but most polls still had him south of the Mason Dixon line. Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll still has him at -8 app/disapprove.
While it is something, it really isn’t that much. What is worse for the President is there is potential for a whole lot more downside.
The events of the past week will likely be mostly a memory by next year. In all likelihood, the election will be decided by the economy. If terrorism is the topic of the day, that means something really bad happened between today and next November. While the President did get bin Laden, he is very vulnerable on this topic as a pretty strong case can be made that if we are attacked again, the President’s squishy legalistic approach to terror left us vulnerable. Bin Laden or no bin Laden, this is not good news for the President if it happens. There will not be a repeat of 2001 for this President.
If the economy remains the issue, the President has troubles there as well. At the same time that he received higher marks for Osama, polling showed his lowest numbers yet in handling the economy. If unemployment remains high (+7%), Obama has real problems on his hands. If inflation continues to move up, driven by fuel and food, Obama’s problems compound. Comparisons of Obama with Carter are the order of the day, if stagflation returns, it will increasingly be Jimmy Carter who feels the pain of this comparison. Unemployment, inflation, and anemic growth are harbingers of death for Obama’s second term.
His real problem lies in his limited options. Going into next years election, Obama would likely want to stimulate the economy by the end of the summer 2012. But another stimulus package is a political dead letter. So this leaves one option only, tax cuts. And I cannot imagine Obama supporting tax cuts by next spring.
So the President should enjoy his uptick, it might be the last one he sees for a while if trends continue.