South Dakota's nuttiest wing proves its penchant for believing what it wants and ignoring what is. Bob Ellis gloats and chortles over a lefty poll that he says says America is less respected globally. Ellis, of course, blames America's diminished standing on President Obama's greeting of foreign dignitaries.
But the poll doesn't say that. Let's go to the source, Democracy Corps:
Although the public continues to give the president strong ratings on a range of national security issues – indeed, above his overall approval rating – there is evidence of rising public concern about the president’s handing of these issues. Historical doubts about the Democratic Party on national security show signs of reviving and many voters worry the president and his administration are not dealing forcefully enough with terrorist suspects. Additionally, the troubled economy is driving down public perceptions of America’s strength and standing in the world ["The Politics of National Security: A Wake-up Call," Democracy Corps-Third Way survey, 2010.03.08].
What Ellis gets wrong:
- The poll doesn't say America's standing has gone down overseas; it says some Americans think our standing has gone down overseas. As any lawyer will tell you, asking any witness to speculate as to the mindset of someone else is cruising for an objection.
- The poll says President Obama actually has majority support domestically on most foreign policy and national security issues:
- The President also gets pretty good support (51% to 37%) for saying he'll repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, something the Bob Ellis worldview says will harm our military.
- It's the economy, stupid:
...a regression analysis shows that this sentiment is driven even more strongly by perceptions of Obama’s performance on the economy – and America’s relative economic weakness – than by his handling of security issues.
In recent focus groups, we hear voters express concerns that mounting debts are diminishing America’s influence and ceding control to our foreign creditors, especially China. The new survey shows how dramatically those feelings undermine confidence in the country’s standing. By a huge 64 to 32 percent margin, likely voters now say that in the face of such economic trends, the US is losing the economic race to China and no longer “remains the strongest and most influential country.” Notably, GOP voters are most likely to believe that the U.S. is no longer the world’s strongest and most influential country – raising the possibility that Republicans have become the “New Declinists” in conversations about America’s global standing [Democracy Corps–Third Way, 2010].
Republicans like Ellis have every right to be Declinists: their anti-governing philosophy is responsible for the decade of economic stagnation that places our superpower status in peril.
Want to boost America's standing in the world? Crank up the economy... and crank up that stimulus!
By the way, if you really want to know what the rest of the world thinks of us, ask the rest of the world. The Pew Global Attitudes Project does that. Of 21 countries surveyed in both 2008 and 2009, 18 of them showed more folks with a favorable opinion of the U.S.A. after President Obama took office. From 2008 to 2009, we lost 3 points in Pakistan, 2 in Russia, and 1 in Poland. Our standing is also higher among 11 of 19 countries compared with our post 9/11 rating in 2002.
Our global neighbors also express more confidence in President Obama than they ever did in his predecessor. The only country expressing less confidence in President Obama than it did in President Bush is Israel.
Other nations also have more faith in our anti-terrorism efforts under President Obama. 22 out of 25 nations surveyed expressed greater approval of our anti-terrorism efforts in 2009 than they did in 2007.
And even with our economy in the tank, the United States is still the only country that gets majority votes from any country as the world's leading economic power.
Update 2010.04.19: And after a full year of President Obama, amidst ongoing economic troubles and increased hostilities in Afghanistan, the world loves us even more. For Bob Ellis, whose worldview depends on excluding and demonizing everyone else, that's sad news. For the rest of us, America marches on!