How Big Will the Osama Halo Effect Be for Obama?

Think back to high school. The quarterback on the football team had a legendary game over the weekend, and made everyone associated with the school so proud they could split their pants. On Monday, he’s treated like a hero.

But, interestingly, people find themselves thinking better of him not only for his athletic exploits. Suddenly, everything about him seems a cut above.

His English teacher, who never saw the QB as being particularly bright, or interesting, wonders if maybe his paper on The Merchant of Venice was actually pretty insightful.

The devout non-jocks who feel alternately superior and intimidated by the QB reassess his past behavior and decide he’s not such a jerk after all.

The girl who brushed him off last month — he’s got a bit of acne, and he slouches sometimes, and he swears — finds herself strangely attracted to him.

The QB is the beneficiary of what’s known as the halo effect.

Photo: aflcio

President Barack Obama has just notched what might arguably be seen as the biggest victory of his presidency: the killing of Osama bin Laden. I am curious as to what sort of halo effect this might generate. How will Obama’s positions and abilities be reassessed — whether on the budget or taxes or gas prices or health-care reform or one of 100 other topics — in light of a military/intelligence victory that took place on his watch?

The halo effect is often short-lived — but will it, in this case, live long enough to power Obama through an election cycle?

FWIW, if you’re looking for an interesting Twitter feed to follow about the bin Laden killing, you might want to check out Sohaib Athar, a self-described “IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops” who happened to live-blog the attack without knowing what was going on, and now finds himself besieged by media interest. His perspective is fascinating.




What will be more interesting, perhaps, is how the GOP candidates are seen after their reactions to the news. Just saying'. Are we still breathless awaiting the result of the college transcript search? ;)


As long as there is validity in the death of Bin Laden, I think this news will carry him easily to another presidency. He made Afghanistan priority 1 when he became president as he was able to kill the face of Al-Qaeda. Even Fox News didn't refute the death, so as long as gas doesn't go over $5, I think Obama will coast to victory.


Really? I think $3+ gas is a problem for him, unless it fell from $5+ in the months before the election.

I actually think that's the issue that will determine the election. Wal-mart is already reporting a slowdown in sales, which means that a large percentage of money that would circulate is being captured by oil costs.

Since we limit production in the US, that money doesn't circulate very well. That means less demand here and probably more economic issues.

I'm not on the drill baby drill team just yet, but people are struggling. They want to see a president who is ready to propose anything to bring gas down. They are willing to gamble on it.

Andrew Krause

Who cares about $3 gas when you don't have a job. It will be "the economy stupid" that gets Obama the boot, even if we have significant recovery by the time of the election. Osama has been irrelevant and security has been a non-issue for your average American.

Eric M. Jones

Gee, I think the US ought to get out of the mid-east, be kinder to the Palestinians and stop dropping bombs on innocents, too. But with my luck I would go to heaven and get 72 virgin guys...not that there's anything wrong with that. Just sayin'.


I readily admit that I have little insight into the mind of the average voter (I still can't believe that anyone thinks Trump is anything but a bad joke, for instance), but I honestly can't see much if any halo effect from this. There are just too many open questions, as for instance Pakistani government claims of not knowing where bin Laden was, US pretending to believe Pakistani claims 'cause they're "allies", Obama still kowtowing to Islam by claiming that al Qaeda's jihad is some sort of aberration...


The halo effect will be limited because of this Presidents's past politicizing of anything to do with U.S. military action.

The reports are that the orders were to kill Bin Laden, not to capture him. Many of those who agree with that decision know that if President Bush had done the same thing, Obama (and the MSM) would have been criticizing his actions as murder, anti-Muslim, etc.


I demand to see the long-form copy of bin Laden's birth certificate, or else this whole thing is an elaborate hoax.


Bravo, my friend.


If you don't think that they run focus groups to see how long it needs to be untill they can restart the press on him, you're silly.
I'm about as anti President Obama's policies as anyone, but seeing as he made Dick Cheney almost smile, I'm an Obama supporter today!


I honestly doubt the Halo effect will change people's opinion about Obama. When Bush was in office when they caught Saddam americans STILL considered him an idiot and unfit to be president. The animosity towards Obama is the same IF NOT stronger....
Obama is in a tough position right know. He may honestly be trying his best, but hes going through the same thing Hoover went through. When times are rough ppl demonize and blame the ones in charge....


Also, the Five Thirty Eight blog is a worthy place to read more on public perceptions.


I am not now nor do I feel I ever will be a 'fan' of the President. Having said that I give him all the credit in the world for making the right call on a very politically risky decision. It was in the best interest of the US to take out Bin Laden. My gut tells me he made the decision with that in mind and not his political future. Because let's face it, had this gone badly or Bin Laden not been there he would have been Carter II, presidency over. It would have also been politically less risky (and most certainly less risky for those brave seals) to use a drone and blow the building. But he calculated that the world needed proof so he made the tougher call. I also was proud that the world saw continuity in leadership and purpose from Bush to Obama. Politics out of it, the strength of our political system is peaceful succession of power and a common purpose. That was demonstrated by the president's actions. Was he borderline self-righteous in his announcement- unqualified yes. Ok, but give the guy his due. So in answer to the halo effect, if a rock solid Bush voting Republican can give him credit I would have to say there is a positive effect on his image. As a quick aside thank God for the brave men and women of our military and intelligence services willing to carry out such dangerous missions.