Commentary Magazine


Why Obama’s Leadership Poll Numbers Are So Terrible

The eye-opening poll of the week comes from Gallup, which shows Barack Obama with the worst numbers of his presidency when it comes to “leadership.” Only 52 percent of Americans describe him as a “strong and decisive leader,” compared to 47 percent who say he’s not. That may not sound bad, but this is how Gallup puts it: “Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009.”

This is especially striking because it comes at a moment when one would have expected a “rally round the flag” feeling in the body politic due to the fact that the United States has undertaken a new military effort. Even when Americans are unhappy about American involvement abroad—as they were, for example, when Ronald Reagan sought the overthrow of the Communist regime in Nicaragua—they usually recognize that a president’s decision to commit forces and spend political capital on something controversial marks him as a leader to be reckoned with.

But that has not happened here, and the reason is simple: Obama undertook the Libya mission with the bizarre promise to the American people and the world that he and we would not be leading it, even though we were. The day he decided to act, he said we were doing so at the behest of the United Nations. Hillary Clinton said it was France and Britain who talked us into it. And he went ten days without offering a comprehensive explanation of what we were doing in Libya. The Gallup poll was done before the president’s speech, but it’s unlikely to change anyone’s mind in this regard since it seemed in part designed to reassure people that NATO was taking charge and that our task in Libya was largely completed.

Who would think such a leader was a strong leader when he is practically shouting from the rafters that he doesn’t want to be a strong leader?

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