Byron York
Barack Obama believes he can leverage some of his killing-bin-Laden popularity into new power on Capitol Hill. "It is my fervent hope," the president told a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House shortly after the public learned of bin Laden's death, "that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face."

If the president is thinking about the most contentious issues on the Hill right now -- the budget and the debt ceiling -- he can forget about any new unity. "While the speaker is glad that Osama bin Laden has been killed, it won't affect his relationship (with the president) on any other policy issues," says a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "For example, I don't think anyone is more likely to vote for a debt-limit increase without spending cuts and other reforms because bin Laden is dead."

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for says much the same. Sending along McConnell's remarks from the Biden deficit task force meeting Thursday -- in which McConnell pushed Obama and Democrats to agree to spending cuts -- the spokesman added, "Please note that (McConnell) has not converted to a tax-and-spend liberal."

The fact is, Republican leaders do not believe Obama's victory over bin Laden translates into any greater clout on core issues like the budget. "It's a significant accomplishment, an important accomplishment," says a well-connected GOP strategist. "And Obama gets a boost in terms of this particular accomplishment. But the No. 1 issue in the country is jobs and the economy, and ultimately he's going to be judged by that issue."

There's no doubt that Obama is enjoying a boost from bin Laden's death. A Washington Post poll shows his job-approval rating jumping nine points after the news. A New York Times poll shows an 11-point spike. But Republicans believe the president's moment will be brief, and that any increased clout it might bring him will be limited to issues like the war in Afghanistan and other national-security matters.

GOP strategists point to December 2003, when President George W. Bush finally tracked down Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Just before that happened, Bush was at 50 percent job approval, according to the Gallup Organization. After Saddam's capture, Bush jumped to 60 percent. Then, a month later, he was at 49 percent, resuming what proved to be a long slide in popularity.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner


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