The Download: Now to the political calculus
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
It’s now the second day of Osama bin Laden stories, which means the narrative has turned to stories detailing how the daring weekend raid came together, and to stories speculating about what the raid means for the political fortunes of the commander in chief who ordered it.
The Boston Herald cuts right to the chase, headlining its political reaction story “Obama ‘got lucky,’ say Republicans.” Not all share that view. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver was initially cautious about overstating the impact of the killing on Barack Obama’s standing, but now he believes pundits, even left-leaning ones, are discounting the bin Laden development too severely. The New York Times notes that, just after receiving the worst foreign policy marks of his presidency in a recent poll, he now has Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani and even carnival barker Donald Trump heaping praise on his handling of the bin Laden raid.
The American Spectator points out that Winston Churchill was similarly cheered after Adolph Hitler’s suicide and the end of World War II -- and lost the election months later. The National Journal’s George Condon also says political narratives are difficult to tease out of the biggest foreign policy stories. George H.W. Bush won a war and watched the Berlin Wall fall and still lost his reelection bid, while his son orchestrated a seemingly impressive victory speech/campaign commercial that became an albatross. More significantly, Condon argues, the wave of sympathy that followed Jimmy Carter’s failures in Iran helped him stave off a primary challenge from Ted Kennedy.
If the bin Laden take-down is no guarantee of longer-term political success for Obama, it surely doesn’t hurt. In that vein, a New Republic look at what the bin Laden killing says about Obama’s foreign policy leadership carries this subhead, “It’s official: Barack Obama is not Jimmy Carter.” The Obama-Carter comparisons were already flying ahead of the weekend raid, the site argues -- like Carter, Obama appeared “far too cautious, dithering, and contemplative,” so political disaster would have followed a failed helicopter-borne desert raid. So just by virtue of not failing, Obama upended a 30-year old narrative: “Stories need heroes, and Democratic presidents needed to add to their win column. Bin Laden’s death, and the circumstances that led to it, are just such a victory.”
The Globe has an account of how US forces pieced together intelligence and planned the precision raid that led them to Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the operative word in the White House situation room where President Obama and a bevy of aides followed the unfolding raid: tense.
A roundtable of military and diplomatic experts and 9/11 victims’ family discussed on “Greater Boston” whether the killing of bin Laden means Americans are safer or not.
The New York Times strips bin Laden of his honorific “Mr.” The terrorist joins the ranks of Pol Pot and Hitler in that regard.
CommonWealth’s Colman Herman reports that Secretary of State William Galvin has made it official: the state’s Public Records Law doesn’t apply to Gov. Deval Patrick.
Peter Lucas, writing in the Lowell Sun, says the strong legislative push by House Speaker Robert DeLeo is an indication he is ignoring the trial of his predecessor.
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, declaring “the bleeding has stopped,” has proposed a budget that includes a hike in school funding and money to hire five new police officers.
Helping cash-strapped city officials, two companies donate carpeting for Haverhill City Hall, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The tale of the city’s threadbare floor coverings had previously made the august pages of the New York Times.
A vocal critic of Lawrence mayor WIlliam Lantigua is a beating victim, the Globe reports, a day after the Eagle-Tribune has the story.
Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo takes a less strident approach than state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz to Whole Foods moving into Jamaica Plain by asking the organic grocer to consider favoring local hires and mitigating its impact on the neighborhood, rather than demanding both. Via Universal Hub.
The Pentucket regional school district is facing a $1 million budget shortfall, after an override vote failed in two of the district’s three towns.
Sen. Scott Brown wants to go to Afghanistan.
Activists on both sides of the aisle scramble to fill seats at Congressional town hall meetings.
Dennis Prager in the National Review takes Republicans to task for supporting a candidate like Donald Trump who dropped a few unapologetic f-bombs in a speech to a GOP women’s group.
The military operation in Pakistan pushes the birther controversy off center stage, likely for good.
A new report finds rent and utilities costs have risen far faster than incomes in recent years, with one in four renters now spending more than half of the household’s income on housing.
A new federal rule would put upward pressure on Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals.
The MBTA puts the new Orange Line station at Assembly Square out to bid.
Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend its review of the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth and hold off a final decision on renewing its license until it can weigh all the implications of the Japanese nuclear disaster.
Wheelabrator pays $7.5 million fine for environmental violations at trash-incineration facilities in North Andover, Saugus, and Millbury, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
Federal officials reduce the area where wind farms can be built off the Cape by half.
Residents reject a municipal wind turbine at Brewster town meeting.
Nor’east Cleaners, with several locations on Cape Ann, adopts a new green cleaning process that dispenses with the use of cancer-causing perchloroethylene, the Gloucester Times reports.