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Obama’s ratings likely to improve

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Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 1:02 am

© 2011 Idaho Press-Tribune

CANYON COUNTY — The death of Osama bin Laden will likely boost President Barack Obama’s reputation among the U.S. electorate — at least for the time being.

“In the short run, you will see his job approval ratings go up,” predicted professor Jasper LiCalzi, who teaches in The College of Idaho’s Department of Political Economy. “A lot of people weren’t sure if this guy is really capable from a commander-in-chief standpoint. It gives him street cred that he has accomplished something as a commander-in-chief.”

Whether or not the confidence boost will be enough to carry Obama into another presidential term is dicey because foreign policy rarely tips the U.S. electorate.

“Foreign affairs isn’t always a big issue with voters, and the election is a long way off. I don’t think people will go out and vote for him in 2012 because of this, but it takes some issues he was more weak on off the table,” LiCalzi said.

For most people, LiCalzi said, bin Laden’s death is a big event, but in a couple of weeks gas will still cost around $4 a gallon. Political experts will be watching how Obama rides his new wave of prestige when it comes to discussing the national deficit, gas prices and unemployment. 

But the actions leading up to bin Laden’s death help the Democratic party as a whole, LiCalzi summarized, because it is traditionally seen as the weaker party on national defense issues.

“It’s been the Republicans that have projected the strong national defense. Republicans have owned the issue of terrorism and foreign affairs and national security for so long. (This) makes it less of an issue.”

While Obama’s re-election hopes strengthen, the death of bin Laden will likely weaken al-Qaida considerably, according to College of Idaho professor Robert Dayley, who also teaches in the Department of Political Economy.

Most Muslims want economic development, jobs, modernity, opportunity and a political voice — not the values al-Qaida represent, he said.

“The vast majority of people in the Muslim world don’t share at all the ideas that al-Qaida have to organize society. The Taliban and al-Qaida want to take life back to the 13th century, live an austere lifestyle that rejects modern values, women’s rights, modern education. And most of the Muslim world — that’s not what they aspire to. They also want to have a government that will listen to their voices.”

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