The Washington Post

West Wing briefing: In campaign appearance, Obama highlights bin Laden capture

President Barack Obama speaks at a Democratic National Committee campaign fundraising event at Austin City Limits Moody Theater in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, May 10, 2011. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

“Because of the extraordinary bravery of the men and women who wear this nation’s uniform and the outstanding work of our intelligence agencies, Osama bin Laden will never again threaten the United States of America,” he said to loud applause at a fundraising event in the Moody Theatre in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday night. “We couldn’t be prouder of them.”

The bin Laden mission fits into the larger message that Obama’s team is trying to cast for his 2012 campaign: despite the narrative that partisan division has dominated Washington for two years, the president has accomplished “big things,” such as getting the health care bill through Congress. (My colleague Anne Kornblut wrote an excellent piece on this subject last week.)

Conservatives sharply disagree with much of Obama’s agenda, but praised his administration’s work in finding and killing bin Laden.

His comments in Austin aside though, it’s not clear what role the bin Laden mission will ultimately play in Obama’s reelection campaign. Voters tend to have short memories, and it’s almost 18 months before the 2012 presidential election. And terrorism, a dominant issue in 2002 and 2004, has faded from the political debate, particularly as voters are increasingly focused on the economy.

A controversial ‘Evening of Poetry’

An event the president and the first lady are hosting at the White House to honor poetry on Wednesday night has surprisingly turned into a controversy. Conservatives are objecting to a 2007 spoken word performance by one of the guests, rapper Common, that they say glorifies gun violence and suggests Common wished for the death of then-President Bush. (The performance, which critiques the Iraq war, includes the phrase “burn a Bush” )

In an interview on Fox News Tuesday night, Karl Rove dubbed Common “a thug” and said the White House should not have invited him, while Sarah Palin used her Twitter account to lodge a similar complaint. White House officials have not publicly commented on the criticism.

The other performers at the event, at which the president will give opening remarks, include Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann, Steve Martin, and Jill Scott, as well as the Steep Canyon Rangers, a bluegrass band.

Obama today

The president host Senate Democrats for a closed-door meeting at the White House on the budget and other issues.


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