A House Divided: A content analysis of Congressional press releases on the bin Laden killing

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While President Barack Obama and many across the nation hoped that the killing of Osama bin Laden might unite the country for at least a short period, a Smart Politics analysis reveals a great partisan divide in the House of Representatives as to how political credit should be assigned for the mission. The findings:

  • ?A Smart Politics review of press releases and statements made by nearly 400 members of the U.S. House since Sunday finds Democrats have been more than twice as likely as Republicans to give President Obama commendations for the bin Laden mission, while Republicans have been eight times more likely than Democrats to acknowledge the efforts of President George W. Bush.
  • ?Overall,60 percent of Democrats issuing statements (96 of 161) credited Obama’s role in the mission or thanked him for his leadership, compared to less than one in four of Republicans (53 of 217, or 24 percent).
  • ?Of the 53 Republicans mentioning Obama, all but 12 divided their Commander in Chief commendations equally between the President and his predecessor, George W. Bush. The dozen only mentioning Obama areSpencer Bachus (AL-06), Daniel Webster (FL-08), Allen West (FL-22), David Rivera (FL-25), Bill Sassidy (LA-06), Billy Long (MO-07), Scott Garrett (NJ-05), Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Tom Petri (WI-06), and David McKinley (WV-01).
  • ?Meanwhile, only four out of 161 Democrats issuing statements (2.5 percent) acknowledged the efforts of President Bush for his role in setting the stage for the mission, compared to 43 of 217 Republicans (20 percent). The four Democrats are Jim Costa (CA-20), John Larson (CT-01), Tim Holden (PA-17), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30).
  • ?Congressional commendations for military and intelligence personnel were strong and similar between both parties. For the military: 95 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats acknowledged their role (93 percent overall). For intelligence and national security personnel: 75 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans (71 percent overall) mentioned their contributions.

Editor’s note: The preceding is a guest post written by Eric J. Ostermeier, Ph.D., J.D. ofSmart Politics, the non-partisan political news site of the University of Minnesota? Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The report? full text can be found here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.