A majority of Americans and even many Democrats consider President Obama’s tenure to be a “failure,” according to a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News.
The poll shows Americans say 52-42 that Obama has been more of a failure than a success. Among registered voters, the gap is even bigger — at 55-39 — with four in 10 (41 percent) saying they “strongly” believe Obama has been a failure.
Those saying Obama has been a failure include one in four Democrats (25 percent), nearly three in 10 liberals (29 percent) and the vast, vast majority of conservative Republicans (92 percent). Nearly one in five liberals (18 percent) say they feel “strongly” that Obama has been a failure.
Interestingly, there is also some crossover on the other side. About one in five conservatives (22 percent) say Obama has been a success (note: this is a different group from “conservative Republicans”), as do 48 percent of moderates. In fact, self-described moderates are more likely to rate Obama a success (48 percent) than as a failure (44 percent).
Later in the article, we are warned that “we shouldn’t read too much into these numbers,” because the question is “binary.” My response: Who cares? Binary or not, in the past, such polls would have made the president and his administration look good. Not anymore. Maybe at some point, the president will turn things around. Then again, maybe not.
When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”
Nor does he seem likely to describe Iraq as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” with a “representative government.” And presumably he will not assert after more than a decade of conflict that “the tide of war is receding.”
As he seeks to rally Americans behind a new military campaign in the Middle East, Mr. Obama finds his own past statements coming back to haunt him. Time and again, he has expressed assessments of the world that in the harsh glare of hindsight look out of kilter with the changed reality he now confronts.
In making his speech, Mr. Obama faces the challenge of reconciling those views with the new mission he is presenting to the American public to recommit the armed forces of the United States to the region he tried to leave. Rather than a junior varsity nuisance, he will try to convince Americans that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria represents a clear threat to national security in a state that is hardly stable. And he will seek to win patience for more war from a public that wishes it really was receding.
To Mr. Obama’s critics, the disparity between the president’s previous statements and today’s reality reflects not simply poorly chosen words but a fundamentally misguided view of the world. Rather than clearly see the persistent dangers as the United States approaches the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they said, Mr. Obama perpetually imagines a world as he wishes it were.
“I don’t think it is just loose talk, I think it’s actually revealing talk,” said Peter H. Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush now at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Sometimes words are mistakes; they’re just poorly put. But sometimes they’re a manifestation of one’s deep belief in the world and that’s what you really get with President Obama.”
Remember when this crowd was going to fix everything that was supposedly wrong with American foreign policy? Boy, those were the days. As the article points out, about the best that Obama administration officials can do in response is to sputter something along the lines of “yeah? Well Bush was worse!” Which tells you something about how desperate the political environment has gotten for them.