The death of Osama bin Laden — and the success of President Obama’s roll-the-dice decision to deploy troops to get him — may change the landscape of American politics in one surprising particular. When Obama runs for reelection in 2012, he’ll probably be strong where his Democratic predecessors have been weak — and weak where they were strong.
By now it’s clear that whatever domestic political advantage Republicans sought to gain from accusing Democrats of being “soft on terror” — much as previous generations of Republicans occasionally made hay by accusing Democrats of being soft on communism — has been spent. In the 2006 congressional elections, voters punished Republicans for badly waging a war in Iraq that the GOP had tried to justify as an extension of that war against terrorism. Now, Obama has done what George W. Bush failed to do: bring bin Laden to justice.