To add a bit to Alana’s post: Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll this week showed President Obama with a 38 percent approval rating. As a reference point, Jimmy Carter’s Gallup approval rating in February 1980 was 41 percent; in April 1980 it was 40 percent; and as late as August 1980 it was 37 percent. (Carter also dipped into the low 30s on several occasions in 1980.) All of which means that Barack Obama has pitched his tent squarely in the upper quadrant of Carter Country when it comes to his approval ratings.
Jimmy Carter, by the way, won six states against Ronald Reagan.
Apparently GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who boycotted this week’s debate in Las Vegas and is now pulling in roughly one percent of the vote among Republicans, was “totally embarrassed–completely embarrassed by the lack of seriousness” he witnessed on Tuesday night. Which I suppose evens things up, since almost every Republican I know is embarrassed by Jon Huntsman. The highlight of the debate, at least for me, was not having to listen to Hunstman for nearly two hours. My hope is that he’s so embarrassed by the GOP field that he boycotts the rest of the debates before dropping out and becoming a political analyst for MSNBC.
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan (which Alana wrote on earlier this week), GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain spoke out on two contentious social issues–homosexuality and abortion. Let’s deal with each in turn.
On homosexuality, Cain claimed that it is a “choice.” If there are any other factors that go into determining one’s sexual orientation, Cain didn’t name them.
Obama is getting down to the wire. There is a strong historical correlation between where a president’s approval ratings are around this point in his presidency, and whether he goes on to win a second term. And yet there’s no indication that Obama’s approval ratings are improving. In fact, Gallup finds that his 11th quarter numbers are the worst of Obama’s presidency–as well as the worst of any recent president except Jimmy Carter:
Only one elected president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, had a lower 11th quarter average than Obama. Carter averaged 31% during his 11th quarter, which was marked by a poor economy and high energy prices. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were the only other post-World War II presidents whose job approval averages were below 50% in their 11th quarter in office.
If there is one constant of American military history it is that the longer our troops stay in a country the better the prospects of a successful outcome. Think of Germany, Italy, Japan or South Korea. Conversely when U.S. troops rush for the exits hard-won wartime gains can quickly evaporate. Think of the post-Civil War South, post-World War I Germany, post-1933 (and post-1995) Haiti, post-1972 Vietnam, or, more recently, post-1983 Lebanon and post-1993 Somalia.
Keep that history in mind as you listen to President Obama boast: “As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
I for one am delighted that Muammar Qaddafi, an unusually malevolent head of state, is dead. He brutalized the Libyan people for more than four decades, and he met the end he deserved.
There is plenty of credit to go around for this achievement, including to British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and President Obama. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the intervention in Libya (which I supported) will turn out to have been a wise one. Like Iraq after Saddam and Egypt after Mubarak, what eventually emerges in the aftermath of the Qaddafi regime will determine that. Still, those of us who have been critical of President Obama’s approach to foreign policy also need to be honest (to say nothing of gracious) in the face of reality. The Obama approach worked. His patience paid off. And as David Ignatius points out, Obama’s “cautious, back-seat approach to Libya … denied Qaddafi the final, apocalyptic confrontation with the United States that he craved.”
Memo to Obama and the media: the Senate is controlled by Democrats. Which is why it’s curious that headlines like “Senate Republicans Block Obama’s Jobs Bill” continue to pop up all over the place.
This phrase first started appearing after the Senate voted against moving forward on Obama’s original jobs plan earlier this month. And it continued to spread today, after the Senate blocked the bill for teacher funding in Obama’s new piecemeal strategy.
Even if every Senate Republican votes against a bill–which they did last night–they still can’t kill it without sufficient bipartisan support. And that’s what they got from several Democrats. But Obama has to be loving the media coverage. The narrative that congressional Republicans are controlling the whole game lends itself perfectly to his campaign strategy. Here was the president’s response to the failed bill:
First, the preliminaries: It’s great that Muammar Qaddafi is gone and Barack Obama was right to eventually say yes when implored by France, Britain, and the Arab League to intervene on behalf of the Libyan rebels. I’ll accept my reasonable-conservative pat on the head and proceed.
There is a white-hot meme doing damage in all corners of the media right now. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd summed it up Thursday on The Daily Rundown: “It was a trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. lives to topple a dictator in Iraq. It’s a billion dollars and no U.S. lives to topple a dictator in Libya. That’s a pretty stark contrast.”
The Washington Post released on its website yesterday afternoon an article by Manuel Roig-Franzia that has to rank as one of the more disgraceful pieces of personal hit journalism in memory—alleging that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio “embellished” the facts surrounding the departure of his parents from Cuba. You can judge for yourself by the piece itself and the devastating takedown of it by the Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo. I just want to offer a few thoughts, based on years working in newsrooms, of how a piece like Roig-Franzia’s comes to be and why it is usually published even when it fails to make its own case.
The Post article is, in one respect, the result of classic reportorial cynicism. A politician gets popular and tells a self-made story and seems unimpeachable as a result and somebody is just desperate to bring him down a peg. That can be the reporter who does it, or the source who feeds him the idea. Given that Rubio is a conservative Republican Hispanic, the fact that he has dodged the bullet of being given the traitor-to-his-own-people-by-being-right-wing treatment through the modality of a journalistic assault until now is actually remarkable.
But what happens when, as in this case, the story doesn’t quite pan out? Clearly the intention behind the story was to explode the myth that Rubio was the son of people who actively fled Castro’s tyranny. But Rubio never propagated that myth, as the Miami Herald item makes clear, and the best Roig-Franzia can do is to imply that Rubio wanted people to think his parents were refugees.
But he fails to make that case either, given that the only evidence he supplies is that Rubio once said his parents came in 1959 when, in fact, they came in 1956. Given that Castro didn’t actually take Havana until New Year’s Eve 1959, hours before the year 1960 began, no one but an eager anti-Rubio partisan would find what he said deliberately deceptive.
It’s true that Occupy Wall Street is made up almost exclusively of white, college-aged, middle-class kids. But it’s definitely not racist. And to prove it, OWS activists are reaching out to minorities where they live – in the ‘hood, of course:
The Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread beyond New York’s financial district to cities all over the country and even beyond the U.S. has one glaring shortcoming, according to some activists: It’s too white. According to the Village Voice, New Yorker Malik Rhasaan launched a Facebook page for Occupy The Hood after observing what he sees as a lack of racial diversity among OWS protesters. “I noticed there isn’t a strong black and Latino presence. … People don’t know why Wall Street affects them. It affects us the most when we’re not knowledgeable about it,” he told the newspaper.
I wanted to provide a slightly different take to Alana’s post on Vice President Biden proselytizing a fourth-grade class on behalf of his administration’s most recent stimulus package.
A month ago I gave a talk to my son’s eighth-grade class; the topic was the Constitution. I spoke for 20 minutes or so and then we opened it up to question-and-answer, which lasted around an hour-and-a-half. As one might expect, there were lots of question about my years in the Bush White House, including the events surrounding 9/11. I was also asked several political questions, including my opinions of President Obama and some of his policies. I went out of my way to be apolitical, to the point of offering up some counter-arguments to views I happen to hold (most having to do with how we treat captured terrorists), in order to show students that one has to carefully weigh competing arguments before arriving at a conclusion.