Watching various friends' facebook statuses last night when the news broke that Osama Bin Laden is now at room temp and perforated, it took about an hour before anybody dared to say anything political. Even then, most of the semi-political musings were from friends who support President Obama, and were along the lines of, "wonder how they can criticize this?" Nothing rude or anything like that. A little later, some of the braver pundits were wondering aloud whether this has any impact on the election in 2012.
First of all, there's nothing to criticize. Indeed, I like Obama best when he dares to "be like Bush." Whether it was pushing an Afghan surge, supporting Petreaus, keeping Gitmo open, or increasing drone attacks in theater, I have supported him and been pleasantly surprised when he did what I consider to be "the right thing." In this case, sending SEALs in, without prior notification to Paksitan, and double-tapping OBL is something I wholeheartedly applaud.
There's also a "Nixon to China" element here. With just a couple of exceptions, there has been hardly a peep from the usual antiwar voices. What we have here is the use of intel gained from Gitmo detainees, possibly while being waterboarded, used by a special ops "kill squad" who have zero intent to capture, so a targeted assassination, and also a violation of the borders of our putative "ally," Pakistan. And it was without a doubt a great thing to do. You won't hear the vast majority of the folks who would have flayed a Bush or even a McCain for doing the same thing talk about "war crimes." And that's a good thing.
As for long-term political repercussions, I don't think it necessarily changes the picture in 2012 at all. Think about it. First of all, it's no "October surprise." Any bounce Obama gains from this will be long-gone by election day. It was about this time in 1991 that Bush 41's approval ratings were over 90% as a result of the Gulf War, and we know how that turned out. There was little chance of this election turning on foreign policy, especially with Obama essentially validating the entire Bush program (even if he has done so while holding his nose). Those who planned on voting for him anyway will have their resolve strengthened by this. Those who didn't are likely not going to change their minds over it. I'll bet that the tiny number of hawks who embrace Obama due to this success will be offset by a similarly tiny number of super-doves who abandon him for the same reason. At the end of the day, if gas is five bucks a gallon and bacon 6 bucks a pound next year, he's toast. If the economy is back on track, he's fine. Pretty much everything else is window dressing.
Regardless, today I don't care anyway. The idea that the last thing Osama ever saw was a SEAL with a cew cut and an MP5 warms my heart. Well done, Mr. President.