POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/3
Mark Blumenthal: “While the killing of al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden lacks true historical precedent, polling following similar events suggests that President Barack Obama will enjoy a bounce in public approval ratings in the days and weeks ahead. However, this boost will likely yield to perceptions of Obama’s handling of the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as more time passes.”
Mark Halperin: “The polls over the next few weeks are going to be fascinating. Comparisons to past presidents who earned military victories might not be instructive for a variety of reasons – partisanship remains intense, and high jobless numbers may curtail sharp spikes, let alone long term boosts. A sizeable number of Americans are just not persuadable towards the Obama side; now we will find out just how big that group is.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “It’s going to be hard to run against Obama . . . for the next few weeks. Which doesn’t matter much electorally, since he won’t be on a ballot for the next few weeks. After that, the most likely result is that, assuming no other events intervene, things will return more or less to normal. We have 50 years of data on rally-round-the-flag effects, and what they tell us is that the half-life on these things isn’t very long.”
Nate Silver: “But killing Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, is going to be a point in Mr. Obama’s favor. I really don’t know exactly what impact it will have, and the magnitude of the bounce that Mr. Obama receives in the polls over the next few days and weeks may not shed much light on that question. But to claim that it will have no impact at all is as daft as claiming that Mr. Obama is now a shoo-in for re-election.”
The White House released new photos showing President Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room as the operation to kill Osama bin Laden unfolded yesterday.
President Obama will travel to New York City on Thursday to visit Ground Zero and meet with families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, USA Today reports.
Treasury Department officials said they “will begin to take extraordinary actions Friday to manage the government’s finances so it won’t default after hitting its borrowing limit on May 16,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The United States is expected to hit the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling by May 16 and could default as soon as July 8. However, officials “now estimate that the actions announced Monday, combined with stronger-than-expected tax receipts, will enable the government to postpone a possible default until Aug. 2. But the longer Congress delays raising the debt ceiling, the greater the risk that markets will fall due to fears that the government won’t meet its financial obligations.”
If you missed it, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s press briefing on the operation to get Osama bin Laden was outstanding.
Osama bin Laden used one of his wives as a human shield during the U.S. raid, theWashington Post reports.
She was killed during the operation.
Jonathan Chait: “I don’t know very much about Muslim cultures, but it’s hard to imagine there’s any culture in which hiding behind your wife, or any woman, rather than fighting for yourself is not considered about as shameful and cowardly as it gets.”
Ben Smith: “The White House would probably be negligent in not playing this aspect of the story to the hilt for propaganda purposes, but it seems worth adding an asterisk of doubt.”
“Those in the establishment who sit back and moan and groan about Donald Trump and are worried about the impact he’s going to have — I’d be less worried about that and more concerned about the fact no one else has stepped up to challenge him, to push back, and to stake their claim.”
— Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, in an interview with ABC News, about GOP candidates “not getting the traction they need” to run against President Obama.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum hopes “that we have at last seen the end of this ugly insinuation that there is something less than fully American about the black president with the exotic name.”
“President Obama has performed the first job of an American president: he has used the power of the nation well to defeat the nation’s enemies and defend the nation’s people. After an interval for celebration of yesterday’s accomplishment, it will be back to politics as usual. But let’s hope that this time, the usual will have this difference: that the administration can be criticized as ‘liberal’ without being libeled as ‘alien.'”
Sen. James DeMint (R-SC) writing in the Greenville News:
“Debt increase advocates are misleading the public when they say fiscal catastrophe will result from a failure to increase the debt ceiling. They are using scare tactics to keep up their big-borrowing and spending sprees, just like they did to justify their Wall Street and mortgage bailouts. The Chicken Little claims that a debt ceiling lapse would mean the nation’s creditors will not be paid are simply not true.”
He concludes: “If we choose to surrender to the debt, instead of fighting it, it will surely lead to our demise.”
On Seth Meyers jokes about Trump: “Seth Meyers has no talent… He fell totally flat. In fact, I thought Seth’s delivery was so bad that he hurt himself.”
On marriage equality: “It’s like in golf. A lot of people — I don’t want this to sound trivial — but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And, I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.”
On his own wealth: “Mr. Trump, 64, repeatedly found ways to weave the topic of his wealth, and its reach, into the conversation. ‘Look at that,’ he interrupted, pointing to a giant white plane hovering outside the room’s windows. ‘That’s my plane. How beautiful is that?'”
NBC News has the details for some of the particularly “heartstopping” moments during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
“The first was when the operation’s helicopters first arrived at the scene. The plan was for the choppers to hover and lower 12 Seals to the ground rather than land. But one of the choppers stopped working due to a lack of air within the high compound walls. It made a soft landing (not a crash) on the ground and the raid went forward.”
“The other tense moment came when the choppers were leaving the country but remained within Pakistani airspace. The Pakistanis, seeing the choppers and not knowing if they were friendly or not, scrambled their fighter jets, causing white knuckles before the helicopters were able to leave.”
With Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels “on the verge of the biggest decision of his life,” theIndianapolis Star takes a look at the political and personal factors weighing on Daniels’ as he considers launching a presidential bid.
Daniels has what it takes: “an enviable political Rolodex that includes contacts from his years working for two presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush; a business background coupled with a laid-back political style that makes him as comfortable in the boardroom as in a diner; and a tight-fisted, reform-oriented record from two terms as governor. Combined, they give Daniels the ability to raise the money he’ll need to build a political campaign almost overnight.”
What may keep him out: “there also is the ‘personal calculus’ every candidate must weigh… the one person whose opinion might overrule all of the political math: Cheri Daniels… If he doesn’t enter the race, she said, family ‘will definitely be a reason. It would not be the sole reason.'”
Bill Kristol: “Mitch Daniels is likely, I’m told, to announce his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination in the next couple of weeks.”
Steve Coll: “The initial circumstantial evidence suggests the opposite is more likely — that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. If I were a prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice, however, I would be tempted to call a grand jury.”
Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani to Jeffrey Goldberg:
“If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can’t Osama bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities? The fact is, Mafia figures manage to do this sort of thing in Brooklyn, and Pakistan is a country that does not have the highly-developed law enforcement capabilities that your country possesses.”
The Hotline reports that Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has decided to “reschedule a Monday morning invitation-only, private conference call in which he had intended to announce an ‘important message.'” after the news of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Pence is widely believed to be preparing to launch a bid for governor of Indiana.
This is the first of what will likely be a number of postponed campaign announcements this week.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) told the Boston Globe that he “is being sent to Afghanistan, but the member of the Massachusetts National Guard would not say if he is being formally deployed.”
Said Brown: “I will put out a statement later about my involvement. I’m going to be going over at some point to do some missions.”
Brown is a member of the judge adjutant general corps, the military equivalent of a lawyer.
In July 2008, Larry King asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “If you were president and knew that bin Laden was in Pakistan, you know where, would you have U.S. forces go in after him?”
McCain said he would not.
“Larry, I’m not going to go there and here’s why: because Pakistan is a sovereign nation.”
The magnitude of the bump that President Obama will get in the Gallup tracking poll from the killing of Osama bin Laden won’t necessarily be predictive of his re-election chances, as Nate Silver notes, but it’s still a very big political victory.
Mark Halperin: “A triumph for Obama, it will have an impact in November 2012, regardless of what happens over the next 18 months. It will resonate on the upcoming ten-year anniversary of September 11, and again in September 2012. This is a great day for America, but make no mistake: this is a great day for Obama’s re-election effort. Republicans running for president are going to have to face that fact, even as they celebrate this historic occasion with the rest of the country.”
“I feel a great deal of satisfaction that justice has been done, and I admire the courage of the president to make a decision like this because if something had gone wrong everyone would be blaming him.”
— Rudy Giuliani, quoted by Politico.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll late last year found 67% of Americans said it was unlikely Osama bin Laden would be captured or killed.
The death of Osama bin Laden will almost certainly enter the debate over the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan. It’s just not yet clear how.
First Read: “The beginning of the troop withdrawal is already set for this summer, but calls for a more intense and rapid draw-down will only increase. Of course, there will be a serious — and political — debate about what the future U.S. policy toward Afghanistan (and Pakistan, too) should be, especially given that it’s hard to believe Pakistan somehow overlooked bin Laden living in an affluent military veteran suburb of Islamabad. In fact, because of Pakistan’s questionable reliability as an ally, it complicates the picture with Afghanistan and doesn’t make “declaring victory and coming home” such a cut and dried decision.”
What is clearer, as Bloomberg remarks, is that Obama’s hand is strengthened.
The White House says President Obama will speak on camera tonight before a previously scheduled bipartisan dinner with congressional leaders.
First Read: “Put simply, the United States has been in a national funk over the past four years. Obama’s presidential victory in 2008 boosted spirits (particularly Democratic ones), despite the sinking economy. And the GOP’s midterm wins in 2010 boosted Republican and Tea Party spirits. Yet nothing has united Democrats, Republicans, independents, and everyone else — until now.”
Obama last night: “Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.”
In an amazing product of the age of social media, TechCrunch discovers the Twitter feed of Sohaib Athar, who will “become known as the guy who, while live-tweeting a series of helicopter flypasts and explosion, unwittingly covered the US forces helicopter raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound.”
16 hours ago: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”
9 hours ago: “@kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras — and got away”
7 hours ago: “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”
“While it’s too soon to draw broad conclusions about what the death of bin Laden will mean in raw political terms, it’s not too soon to conclude that his demise will re-adjust the political world — at least in the short term — in a meaningful way,” Chris Cillizzaobserves. “How Obama and the Republican men and women who want to replace him next November act in the aftermath of this news could set the tone — and the issue agenda — for the next months of the 2012 campaign.”
Here are some statements from potential Republican presidential candidates:
Mitt Romney: “This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”
Mike Huckabee: “It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden is dead… It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless is tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”
Tim Pawlenty: “This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over.”
Sarah Palin: “Thank you, American men and women in uniform. You are America’s finest and we are all so proud. Thank you for fighting against terrorism.”
The FBI has updated its Most Wanted list by labeling the photo of Osama bin Laden as “deceased.”
“We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”
— Barack Obama, during an October 2008 presidential debate with Sen. John McCain.
Last night, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor and senior administration officials held a conference call to brief reporters on the details of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. A transcript follows.
If you want to get an idea of how the operation unfolded to kill Osama bin Laden,Wikipedia provides an amazing amount of detail from hundreds of contributors.
The New York Times also has a fascinating start-to-finish account.