I'll pass on taking sides, but I do have to disagree with Walt's framing: he believes that (what he sees as) Obama's lack of foreign policy successes may hurt him in 2012. He does acknowledge that the economy is more important, but then claims Obama will
be heading into 2012 without a major domestic or foreign policy achievement to run on. All that spells trouble for Democrats come 2012.On the economy, the important thing to remember is that for better or worse, everything that's happened so far basically doesn't matter to Obama's reelection. What seems to matter is economic growth (or, actually, income growth) during the election year. It would be nice to believe that voters reward pols for long-term economic success, but the evidence says no. (Oh, and domestic achievements? That's silly; it's possible his domestic achievements will be unpopular, although my guess is that they'll be popular enough among swing voters that he'll have plenty to talk about. He obviously has plenty of domestic achievements, and still has plenty of time for more).
But as far as foreign policy achievements...it probably just doesn't matter. When it comes to foreign affairs, we know that long drawn out wars tend to hurt presidents up for re-election -- so Obama should be careful to avoid casualties in Afghanistan (or elsewhere) in 2012 at the same level they're at now. Beyond that, however, it's highly unlikely that any accomplishment could have any long-term affect on his approval ratings or his reelection. Surely, a major policy disaster might hurt. But what Walt is talking about -- the status quo in Iran, or a post-occupation Iraq hostile to the US and aligned with Iran -- isn't likely to affect swing voters at all. Of course, it's terribly important...it's just not going to matter for Obama's reelection.