The administration is trying to convert its successful killing of Osama bin Laden into domestic political clout, as it faces a tough summer of deficit-debates, rising gas-prices and and stubborn unemployment numbers.
The political “unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulties of the debates that we’ll have to be engaged in, in the weeks and months to come,” President Barack Obama told a White House dinner for Hill chairmen and chairwomen last night. “It is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride [sparked by the bin Laden killing] to confront the many challenges that we still face,” he said at the close of his short speech before the dinner.
That message is very compatible with the Obama’s political needs. His ratings have been sliding downwards in line with numerous economic indicators, and there’s no economic rescue-force in sight. A significant number of Democrats are joining GOP calls for the addition of spending-cuts to the pending debt-ceiling legislation, the GOP-controlled House is investigating numerous ethical-short cuts in federal agencies, and an increasingly distant and discontented public sees the nation is on the wrong track.
Obama’s ‘can’t-we-all-get-along’ message was first rolled when the president announced the successful killing of bin Laden. “Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” he said. “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.”
The president repeated the message on Monday morning. “Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans,” the president said at a midday Medal of Honor ceremony for two soldiers killed in the Korean war.
The message is also being echoed by other cabinet officials and spokesmen. “I know there are some who doubted this day would ever come, who questioned our resolve and our reach,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added in a morning speech at the state department. “Let us remind ourselves, this is America. We rise to the challenge, we persevere, and we get the job done,” she said.
“The fact that we were able to accomplish this [attack] says a lot about our country and its perseverance… [and] the capability for Americans to come together to achieve difficult goals,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters assembled at an Monday afternoon press conference. “This is a good day for America and Americans,” he said.
Back in 1992, President George H. Bush enjoyed a united nation that celebrated the ouster of Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait. For a moment, his poll ratings soared above 80 percent, but they were quickly dashed by a stalled economy and Ross Perot’s populist movement. Bush’s last day at the White House, Jan. 20 1993, became President Bill Clinton’s first day in the Oval Office.