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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Americans Concerned Weak Economy Threatens Global Status

Bob Ellis tags his blog with the line "Exposing the Pernicious Lie." I think he's referring to his own content.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. The poll says President Obama actually has majority support domestically on most foreign policy and national security issues:
    Deomcracy Corps-Third Way poll, Obama approval, overall and on specific issues
  3. 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.
  4. 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!


  1. Did I miss something or did you really equate how favorably the rest of the world thinks of us with our power and leadership standing in the world? I don't know or care about the first in the least. I very much care about the second. I wouldn't call people declinist to recognize our position in the world is threatened nor would I believe anybody has swapped roles in that respect. A declining American primacy appeals to a Progressive world government ideology, while it is a calamity for the Bob Ellis's of the country - just as it was during GW Bush's presidency. What they always complained about during Bush was not declining American power, but declining American popularity due to Bush's abuse of that power.

    Please don't act like the end of Glass-Steagall pushed us into a decade of economic stagnation.
    First, The banks were already melding investment with savings - the repeal was done after the fact.
    Second, Government regulation in the form of mark-to-market after the debacle of ENRON had a crippling effect when mortgage securities plummeted. Had the government not interfered by doing this, there would likely been no threat of complete collapse.
    Third, Greenspan failed to fulfill his job by increasing interest rates in 2004, allowing the housing bubble to continue (and yes they did know, politics probably played a factor).
    Forth, congressional incompetence in the aftermath in creating TARP, which has been successful, but slow and weak and far more expensive than it needed to be. Instead of buying up securities at arbitrary levels we could have provided blanket mortgage insurance on loans made prior to 2008 - without touching the MBE's themselves. however the repayment to the government would have been negotiated, it would have re-solidified the value of the MBE's and protected the financial sector without a single corporate bailout.
    Fifth, Fannie and Freddie suck snail pate'. By functioning as the hole to dump unwanted risk, they allowed brokers and banks to pass along toxic mortgage paper because Fannie and Freddie didn't (and don't)care about risk.
    Sixth, outside of the actual collapse - the deadening of the economic recovery has been the uncertainty being created by Health Care debate on which hinges so much it prevents potential employment opportunity (I'm not saying this is because it is bad policy, but only that it is massively influential and the outcome unpredictable) The middle of an economic crisis is the worst time for radical laws effecting the cost of hiring.

    Keep to analyzing polls Cory, anytime you try to describe economics you make my eyes bleed.

    ...crank up the stimulus my hairy bum...

  2. Cori,
    don't yeah think the poll is somewhat biased?
    James Carville and Stanley Greenberg.
    Joseph G Thompson

  3. Sorry, meant to add that the Pew Poll was released in July 2009 which means it was conducted probably in April or May, well before his Falkland Island problem
    and other problems with Great Britain, the EU, and several nations in Asia. Read the foreign papers.
    Joseph G Thompson
    PS Remember I voted for him
    Joseph G Thompson

  4. Joe, I don't read as much of the foreign press as I ought. Good recommendation!

    On the possible bias of the poll: as I noted, it's a lefty source, but ultra-right Ellis cites it as gospel, so it appears to be fair game.

    Roger, I'm only operating withing the parameters of Ellis's faulty interpretation.


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