Is that headline a bit of exaggeration? Yes. Mark Halperin didn’t go quite that far, but that’s the general thrust of his argument,
What Obama really needs, Halperin says, is a stroke of good luck. “Busy as he’s been, he has not yet experienced a single major moment that has benefited him politically,” Halperin writes. Events like the Gulf oil spill have been harmful, rather than helpful. So what would brighten Obama’s political prospects? Here’s Halperin:
No one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe. But when a struggling Bill Clinton was faced with the Oklahoma City bombing and a floundering George W. Bush was confronted by 9/11, they found their voices and a route to political revival.
Of course, the Oklahoma City attack killed 168 people, and September 11 nearly 3,000. So Halperin quickly adds: “Perhaps Obama’s crucible can be positive — the capture of Osama bin Laden, the fall of the Iranian regime, a dramatic technological innovation that revitalizes American manufacturing — something to reintroduce him to the American people and show the strengths he demonstrated as a presidential candidate.”
If we’re going to be garish enough to discuss the political fall-out of a catastrophe, we should start by noting that contrary to conventional wisdom, disasters tend to be iffy political propositions.