Obama deserves more credit

U.S. President Barrack Obama’s nine point rise in public opinion polls after the killing of reputed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American Navy SEALs proves that, for the most part, Americans like their presidents to be hawks.

The pro- and anti- Obama factions were for an all too brief moment united behind their president, thousands literally dancing in the streets, as it was revealed that the full responsibility for the decision and the timing of the mission to get bin Laden, named as the mastermind behind the 9-11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington D.C., was his and his alone.

The decision to take another person’s life is a very serious matter, even if most of the world deems it acceptable to do so in cases such as this. It just goes to show that no matter how brilliant the U.S. president might be, it is only if he starts killing people in foreign countries that he will be respected by some. Even passionate opponents like Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun have been kind to him recently.

Obama was often admired during his presidential campaign for being cool under pressure, but criticized for the same trait as president under the pressure of stagnant unemployment and rising national debt.

He was the embodiment of cool on the evening before the SEALs’ assault, delivering a humorous and well-timed monologue at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, and later laughing at a joke about bin Laden having a show on C-Span.

Obama has been facing a credibility juggernaut over matters both great and trivial. The Tea Party, which has mushroomed in reaction to the election of America’s first Black president, has made hay of such silliness as the so-called  “Birther” controversy, rejecting that he is America-born (a requirement to be president of the United States) and suggestions that he is Muslim – which in today’s America is apparently okay if you are boxing great Muhammad Ali, but not if you are the U.S. president. (A couple of years ago he was being criticized for being a member of a radical Christian church. What a speedy conversion that was.)

Just days before the bin Laden mission, his office presented his long-form birth certificate in an attempt to finally end the distraction of where he was actually born. This issue was apparently more important to Obama’s detractors than America’s ballooning debt.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, are currently on a six-day trip through Europe to discuss matters of war, peace and economic growth, but after the killing of bin Laden in Pakistan it might not be a stretch to consider it a victory lap, especially given the kind of enthusiastic greeting the couple has been receiving. It is hard to picture George W. Bush receiving such a reception.

Listening to him address a joint session of the British Parliament; to watch the ease with which he moved between the ordinary people on the streets of Ireland and British royalty, one can’t help but be amazed that so many of his fellow Americans still don’t seem to get it; they still don’t seem to grasp the measure of this man.

Why is America so at odds with itself? There seems to be two distinct Americas; one which voted in its first Black president and the other which is still in shock that a Black man is in the White House.

How else to explain his job approval rating at only 52 per cent after the death of bin Laden, arguably America’s most hated enemy?

One late-night TV satirist was recently prompted to question what it would take to get the other 48 per cent on board. (Perhaps killing Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi.)

Obama has been doing far more for America than even many of his supporters realize and doing so in what, while powerful and even glamorous, could be at times a thankless job. He needs to blow his own horn a bit more to let the American people in on what is being achieved under his watch.

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