Sunday, May 08, 2011

A new conventional-wisdom meme on Obama

The new conventional wisdom take on President Obama can up during the weekly Political Wrap with Sleepy Mark Shields and David "Bobo" Brooks on the PBS Newshour 05/06/2011 at about 2:10 with a question from moderator Jim Lehrer:

From the transcript:

JIM LEHRER: All right, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

David, do you agree with the conventional wisdom that that forever has changed -- not forever, but has changed the way Americans view President Obama?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. No, I really don't think so. I think he will -- his reputation is certainly enhanced. He made a brave decision. He stood by it. And I think the reputation of -- America feels better because it has been a long time since we have had something function really well.

JIM LEHRER: Because of guys like this [the SEALs who conducted the raid on Bin Laden's compound].

DAVID BROOKS: Guys like that.


DAVID BROOKS: So -- and even for President Obama, it has been a long time since he has done something popular. Whether you agree or not with stimulus or health care or GM, they were not popular.

And now he's done something really popular. And he did a difficult thing and enhanced his authority. But will it transform his view? I'm doubtful, because this is not central to his presidency. The economy and other things are central to his presidency. And when you look at his standing, it's gone up significantly in the last week, and it's gone up in his handling of terror.

But overall views about the economy, despite these numbers, have not gone up. And his handling of the economy in some polls was flat, and, in some polls, it went down a little. And I think the economy will still be the central way he will be judged.

JIM LEHRER: Do how do you feel, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it has changed. And I think it's changed -- there was a growing narrative, Jim, that was getting traction that the president was the professor in chief, that he was too nuanced, that he was leading from the rear, that -- perhaps too cerebral, and a question of maybe not ready to pull the trigger, to make the bold statement.This was a -- this was decisive. It was cool. It was bold. And I agree, I mean, that it was a success. And we have been yearning for success. We have been dying for success. But I also think it's important -- if one thinks just historically, since World War II, with the possible exception of the Cuban Missile Crisis, there has not been an unambiguous military intelligence success under a Democratic administration in that long time.

I mean, you have had Vietnam. You had Korea. You had Mogadishu. You had the Iranian hostages. I mean, there really hasn't. And this was. And...

JIM LEHRER: Just in pure political...

MARK SHIELDS: In pure political -- but, you know, in an act of -- a decisive act.

And there's a recognition in the political world that the president really did roll the dice. I mean, this was a high-risk -- high-reward, but very high-risk, not only to the brave men involved, but to his own political future. [my emphasis]

Jim Lobe in Bin Laden Coup Could Mark New Beginning for Obama Inter Press Service 05/06/2011 pointed out a change in the punditocracy's narrative about President Obama:

The well-respected Gallup organisation, which Thursday released a three-day-tracking poll, found a six-percent increase in the president's public-approval rating during the three days after the raid in what it called Obama's first "rally event" – a positive reaction to a major international or domestic crisis.

While that was extremely modest compared to the all-time record 35- percent increase George W. Bush received in his ratings after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the consensus among even right-wing commentators is that Obama has emerged as a more-formidable political force primarily because he has demolished, at one blow, the increasingly widely accepted notion that he is a cautious, even timid, politician who instinctively favours the safest political option and who sees his foreign-policy role as managing the inevitable decline of U.S. power in the world.

"It is this last claim that took such a profound blow when Obama approved the operation against bin Laden and chose the riskiest option involving a face-to-face confrontation with American commandos – on the orders of the president of the United States," wrote E.J. Dionne, Jr., a political columnist at the Washington Post, this week. [my emphasis]
This provides a measure of how lazy our Pod Pundits are with their political analysis. Obama promised during his 2008 campaign to escalate the war in Afghanistan. That was a risk, both militarily and politically, and a bad one. But he took it. He made a bad decision in following through on that misguided promise. But there's no way I would characterize that as showing him to be a "cautious, even timid, politician who instinctively favours the safest political option." I'm not arguing with Lobe's characterization of the conventional wisdom, but rather with the CW involved.

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