Commentary Magazine


RE: Obama’s Terror Policies Get Thumbs Down

Actually, according to the Democracy Corps–Third Way poll, Obama’s entire national-security approach gets thumbs down:

The Democracy Corps–Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin — 51 percent to 41 percent — Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

“This is surprising, given the global acclaim — and Nobel peace prize — that flowed to the new president after he took office,” the pollsters said.

The Democratic Party also plummeted on national security. A May survey by the pollsters found that the public saw the Democratic and Republican parties as equally able to handle national security (41 percent trusted Democrats more and 43 percent trusted Republicans more). On conducting the war on terrorism, the two parties were tied at 41 percent.

But the latest poll shows a massive gap, with Democrats trailing by 17 points, 33 percent to 50 percent, on which party likely voters think would do a better job on national security.

It seems that the apology jag, Iran engagement, pulling the rug out from under allies, harping on nuclear disarmament while despots pursue their own weapons, and penny-pinching on the defense budget — not to mention the not-Bush anti-terrorism policies — have not endeared Obama to the public as a stalwart commander in chief or foreign-policy wizard. The Democratic pollsters offer up the predictable excuses: “Americans remain in an unhappy mood, which is going to drive down a lot of numbers across the board for many different issues, including international affairs. … Add to that a need for the White House and national Democrats to more effectively communicate.” It’s never the policies, you see.

Foreign policy is rarely the top issue in a campaign year, unless Americans get the sense they are less safe and the policies being pursued are reckless and irresponsible. And then the voters can get very, very upset. The White House would be well advised to look at the substance of their policies and whether they are engendering respect here and abroad. If not, maybe the Obami’s problems are not just poor communication or a grouchy electorate.