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Common sense is that which everyone has, which everyone trusts, and which is usually wrong. Common sense is great for figuring out that the stove that was just burning is probably still too hot to touch. When it comes to public policy and politics however, not so much. This brings us to charges that the Obama campaign is politicizing the anniversary of killing Osama Bin Laden, where common sense is clashing with experience.

Common sense says that using Bin Laden as a campaign selling point looks unseemly, and it's going to hurt. The opposing party and candidate has gotten predictably upset. Better to be quiet and humble about it. Pretend it's some bipartisan triumph, and not Obama benefiting from taking a huge risk. Voters will punish someone who politicizes a war or terrorism and reward a candidate who acts more numbly and non-partisan. Right?

Funny thing though: experience says otherwise. Remember 2004? I recall a cartoon after the GOP convention of an elephant saying "911" over and over and over in a spot-on mockery of every speech from every speaker. Politicizing 911, politicizing the war in Iraq, how awful! How petty! How ... effective. When the Democratic convention didn't produce the usual post-convention bounce for Kerry, the favored theory was the country was so intensely divided that everyone has already decided. Then Bush and his party talked about 911 incessantly ... and oh look, a bounce in the polls. Apparently, seeing the most blatant politicizing of a war or attack on the US in maybe any campaign ever, most voters had no problem with it.

Common sense was wrong then. I'm pretty sure it's wrong now.

Maybe Republicans would have Obama be properly demure about Bin Laden, like Jimmy Carter was about spending more time in uniform than any 20th president except Eisenhower, and like George McGovern about combat experience in World War II. Didn't know about those? They didn't make much about it. Voters...appear not to have given much credit.

Reward the humble hero? Maybe in everyday life, but in politics, not so much. Not common sense, but apparently so.

So Joe Biden got it right, "Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive". Consider it as boastful as we want, but experience shows the voters are far more likely to reward it than punish it. So if you want to win, blow your own horn. Talk it up. Stick it on your bumper stickers. Spike the metaphorical football. Laugh at W metaphorically spiking the football at his own 20 yard line, but remember the voters saw him land on the aircraft carrier and still voted for him.

Cross-posted at MN Progressive Project

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