Effect of President's Approval Rating

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We obviously think that if there is a takeaway from it, it is the resolve that he has, the focus he brings to bear on long-term objectives, that he keeps pushing to get them done. When talking about immigration reform, he keeps pushing to get it done. And I think that that was reflected in his approach to dealing with Usama bin Laden.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The bin Laden killing to immigration reform. Here's a look at the average of the polls from realclearpolitics.com average. You can see the approval at 51.6. That's a bump of about six points on average from all the polls.

Before we asked you -- before the break, how long will this bin Laden bounce last for President Obama? 68 percent of you said less than a month. You see the results there in our nonscientific poll online.

We're back with the panel. Karen, you hear Jay Carney talk about immigration reform. How much do you think this spills over to other domestic agenda items, if any?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think there will be some. I think that the sort of horserace numbers, the job approval numbers are not the ones to be looking at here. I do think that this whole episode spoke to some of the president's perceived weaknesses as a leader. And I think it's gonna be hard from here on out to say that he's not decisive or, ya know, again, that he is not willing to sort of get out there and take a risk. I think it does, as Jay Carney, was suggesting, speak to some of the public's concerns about his character and his leadership ability.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm intrigued by Carney's logic. He says because the president killed bin Laden we should follow him into granting amnesty for illegal aliens. I would nominate it as the non sequitur of the decade. But clearly his idea is this. This demonstrated leadership, it undid the narrative about indecisiveness. Although, I think if you look objectively at what he's done in foreign affairs in Iran, in Syria, in Libya with the Russian reset, it is a record of dithering.

On the other hand, that all pales in significance in the popular imagination because nobody remembers where they were when the bombs landed on Libya -- began to fall on Libya. Everybody remembers where he was when he heard about bin Laden's death. So it has a sort of emotional salience. And it does address the character issue.

I think it's gonna be very important -- you heard how Carney tried to flip the negative into a positive. He looks as if he's indecisive, he looks as if he's dithering, but actually he is looking so deep, so long, into the strategic future that what appears is dithering is sort of real strategic depth and leadership. It reminds me of that phrase of a fanatical follower of Trotsky who said, Trotsky was such a visionary that not one of his prophecies have yet come true. It's about at the same league as that.

BAIER: Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's good to know I can discuss Trotsky for a while, but maybe I'll stick with President Obama. Look, I mean if he acts decisively he will confirm this newly acquired reputation for decisiveness. So on immigration reform, I think the ridiculous thing that struck me about the quote, not to obsess about Jay Carney's quote, but he acted decisively on bin Laden and tomorrow he's going to be talking about the immigration reform.

Ya know, he could propose legislation, he could call everyone down to the White House. He could say this is a national priority; we have been squabbling about this for five years; it's unhealthy for the country; it's not been a very edifying debate. I'm calling the leadership down tomorrow. We'll have legislation in two weeks. Let's act.

He could do the same in a lot of areas on energy prices, on gas prices which are up. He could open up places for drilling. He could at the same time [INAUDIBLE] appeal to the left, say I want that $4 billion, those tax breaks, the oil companies have. I want legislation moving on that next week. In fact, that would even be a little of a tough fight for Republicans.

But he seems strangely -- if I were in his shoes -- if I were in the White House as an aide I would be thinking of things he could do every day for the next two weeks. Instead he's going to give a speech on immigration reform two-and-a-half years into his presidency?

BAIER: I mean Karen, there is a history there, to Bill's point, of, for example, of healthcare, handing the keys over to Congress to come up with a specific. The recent deficit and debt commission came out with recommendations. And yet his speech really didn't take from that, his own panel. So as far as gutsy calls legislatively, he hasn't made a lot of them.

KAREN TUMULTY, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it will be interesting. As I think that immigration is sort of a sidetrack at this point. And it's worth speaking to the Democratic base and it's more about trying to motivate voters for next year. But the deficit and the debt reduction package is I think going to be the next big, the next big test of his leadership and that willingness to take risks.

BAIER: You agree, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It is. But every indication he has given at least up until now is he is not willing to make the kind of severe - to take severe serious measures the way he avoided all of it in his State of the Union address and in the budget and then in the speech that was supposed to be a plan that would counter the Republican plan. There was nothing in that. And I think he has strategically has decided he's gonna demagogue the Republican proposals and not do anything on his side that's serious.

BAIER: Quickly down the line, the gang of six, the bipartisan senators working, but apparently not too well or quickly on a plan to puts all this together. Do they succeed or not?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure that we will see a birth.

TUMULTY: You know, it's been so gratifying to see these guys, though, working together, because trust is the rarest commodity there is in Washington. So people who are rooting for something to get done have got to be rooting for these guys.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's a long labor.

KRISTOL: Now I'm told Senator Dorgan, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, does not have the gang of six behind any proposal.

BAIER: That is it for panel, but stay tuned, a lot has happened since the bin Laden killing, but now apparently there is a new show.

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