Gadhafi's death: Do Americans care?

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson talks about American's attention tuning to issues closer to home.

Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press
Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 15:24
WASHINGTON - Another day, another ruthless terrorist and/or dictator slain, and another collective yawn from the American public.

Since he took office in 2008, U.S. President Barack Obama has overseen the deaths of two of the world's most dangerous terrorists and one brutal dictator in Moammar Gadhafi, who died Thursday after an eight-month, American-backed siege by United Nations forces in Libya.

"This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world," Obama told a news conference at the White House.

"We've taken out al Qaida leaders and we've put them on the path to defeat. We're winding down the war in Iraq, and have begun a transition in Afghanistan. And now, working in Libya with friends and allies, we've demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century."

And yet there's little evidence many of Obama's countrymen care too much about distant struggles in faraway lands as they toil to hold onto their jobs and their homes during a sputtering economic recovery....

"The economy is the No. 1 issue, and anything else is getting little attention," Cal Jillson, a politics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Thursday.

"These types of victories will resonate as people get closer to the election, but in the moment, right now, the economy is a downward grind for Obama's approval rating no matter what else is going on."