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The Bin Laden Factor

May 5, 2011

The country is fixated on the killing of Osama Bin Laden during an early morning raid on his Pakistan hideaway by an elite team of Navy Seals.

Most everyone agrees he got what was coming to him – a quick bullet to the head.

Many are asking if the decision to move in on the compound; capture and kill Bin Laden, will now benefit President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election campaign. It is hard to argue that it will not.

The President accomplished something his predecessor George W. Bush could not, this despite the former President’s 2001 bravado proclamation, to capture Bin Laden “dead or alive.”

Republicans say many intelligence policies were put into effect by President Bush and they are now used by the Obama administration. It can also be argued that without these policies the key intelligence information used to find Bin Laden would not have materialized.

Still, the country owes President Obama a debt of gratitude for having the resolve to track Bin Laden down, and have him killed him once he was found. President Obama made a tough presidential decision, and he looked good making it.

This was an important milestone in the Obama presidency, and may be regarded by historians as one of his great achievements.

Unfortunately, the country has a short memory, and voters will give more weight to their own economic condition, and the price of gasoline, when making a decision for whom to vote for President in 2012.

The other element in President Obama’s re-election is who the Republicans will put forth as their nominee. It’s too early in the process to say who that person will be.

We have learned that Republican voters are looking to nominate someone different. This is illustrated by the seriousness in which they are entertaining the idea of real estate mogul Donald Trump as their nominee.

Many political observers discount Trump (there are good arguments in support of this view) and his potential candidacy. He has been called various names, including “a clown” “a joke”, and the “Republican Al Sharpton”.

However, voters do not lie about their intentions, and they are signaling an intense desire to vote for someone who is not a typical politician.

We have not heard the last of Trump; he will again be a factor in the race, and Republican leaders should not ignore this phenomenon.

Trump does have a unique problem, one he may not be able to overcome. He seems to be surrounded with “yes” men, associates who do not want to offend him, and as most corporate chief executive officers, he relies on his own counsel, almost exclusively.

This is understandable, after all, his achievements are largely his own, and thus he has been rewarded for taking his own advice for most of his career.

Politics however is the one profession that adheres to the cardinal rule that also governs attorneys; “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

Trump, for his part, cited Ronald Reagan as his most admired former President. Fair enough; then he should emulate him, and do as Reagan did; be the candidate and leave the minutia to underlings.

He also needs to act like a President. His presidential idol would not have used the “F” word in a public speech as Trump did last week to an audience in Las Vegas. Such language in public is offensive.

Still, Republican voters are sending a message. They want an alternative candidate. Someone different, who offers more than a long political resume, and if Trump “acts right”, he could still fit that bill.

He may be fired yet, but look for voters to give him one more chance.