That’s the simple way of looking at President Barack Obama’s grand successes in the war on terror and how, because of the crippling job front at home and a growing-by-the-day hatred of big business, he may not be able to use them in the forefront of his re-election campaign.
If you had posed the question on the first day of Obama’s presidency of whether he would be effective in the war on terror, you’d have been hard pressed to find someone who could have made a legitimate argument in the affirmative. Yet, here we stand a little over a year away from Election 2012 and it could be argued the president’s greatest achievement has been fighting terrorism.
Like I said: ironic.
The killings of Osama bin Laden, radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – Obama, the candidate deemed so soft on terror and whose relative foreign policy inexperience was seen as leaving the country vulnerable to powerful enemies, can hold his head high and proud on all these. How much actual credit he deserves can be debated, but the buck stops with the president and these historic and life-changing events occurred on his watch.
There can be little doubt that, by now, Obama has far eclipsed his predecessor’s successes in warding off the evil doers.
He should be able to hit the campaign trail with a large hammer to swing at his opponents, able to give a big “how do you like them apples” to all the predictions of a commander-in-chief who would wilt in the face of terror. He certainly did not. And yet for all he has done to keep this country safe — and let this writer speak up loudly as one of those who feared the worst – Obama may not get any mileage at all out of it.
An economy that has shown a syrup-like crawl out of the recession toward renewed strength and an unemployment pool of disenchanted and mightily struggling Americans who face even more challenges in gaining employment upon the return of so many troops from oversees – never mind from those who aren’t even counted in the unemployment figures because they are no longer collecting – threatens to steal the show on the campaign trail. His opponents and critics will be able to swing their own hammer as they accuse Obama of spending far too much time in his first year as president on health care and precious little time putting people back to work.
The president’s approval rating is around 42 percent and the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent (again, that does not include those who are no longer filing). The economy and jobs will be his biggest vulnerability as he seeks to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Will that open wound be fatal? Or will a president who surprised everyone in his commitment to the war in Afghanistan and his doggedness in pursuing this nation’s enemies be able to dodge the bullets and win re-election?
Regardless, of all the surprises and developments to come out of Obama’s presidency, his triumphant roles in the war on terror stand as the most startling.
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