Normally in American politics, when a major foreign policy event occurs – the launch of a war, a terrorist attack, or the killing or capture of a significant enemy – the president receives a bump in the polls. When Saddam Hussein was captured in Iraq, for example, President Bush’s approval rating jumped from 54 percent to 63 percent, according to CNN. When Osama Bin Laden was killed this week, by contrast, President Obama received virtually no bounce: according to CNN, 52 percent of people approved of Obama, up from 51 percent. That lack of bounce was mirrored in several other polls, including the Rasmussen poll, and the Newsweek/Daily Beast poll.
Assuming these polls are accurate, where did Obama’s bounce go? Some pundits speculate that Obama’s foreign policy bump has been offset by his polling on the handling of the economy, which remains at record lows. Others believe that the public is simply too polarized to hand Obama credit for the Bin Laden operation.
In reality, Obama’s lack of bounce is a credit to the American people. Essentially, after watching Obama greenlight the Bin Laden kill mission, the American people had to decide who Obama was. Was he a new, tough Obama willing to go after terrorists with alacrity and zeal? Or was he the old, timorous Obama, frightened of his own international shadow after breaking out of his post-American model?