Presence During Crisis

After the successful raid that killed Osama bin-Laden, the White House released a photo of the scene in the Situation Room during the raid. The raid was planned over a period of several months, during which the President was involved in the details of the raid.

According to counterterrorism chief John Brennan, “The president had to look at all the different scenarios, all the different contingencies that are out there,” he said.

In times of domestic crisis, U.S. leaders often make public visits to the stricken area to show personal concern for the affected people and to depict themselves as someone who leads from the front.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President Bush was criticized for his slow response to the storm. Rather than landing in New Orleans to look at the devastation from the ground, he viewed the damage from the air on the way from California to Washington. Many analysts criticized his leadership for failing to survey the damage on the ground.

In contrast, after Hurricane Sandy struck New York and New Jersey in 2012, Obama quickly visited the affected areas multiple times to meet with local leaders and affected families. President Obama was praised for working with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who in the past has been extremely critical of Obama’s leadership.

Obama’s rapid response and both leaders’ willingness to put aside partisanship was put forward as an example of effective leadership at both the national and state level.