Wow, Obama is really losing it. He can’t even manage a good war scare any more.
Despite a runup-to-Iraq-war-level propagandizing, Americans aren’t buying what the Administration is selling. Obama’s bizarre push to rebrand the US’ botched efforts to destabilize the Ukraine into some sort of Russian threat to democracy and the American way has backfired spectacularly. Americans are having none of it. They aren’t persuaded that Putin is a threat, much less a belligerent that merits starting a new Cold War.
Perhaps as important, Obama economic neoliberalism has collided headlong with his support of neocon adventurists. Spend the better part of three years engaging in budget scaremongering and guess what? The great unwashed public starts paying more attention to where Federal dollars are going. It’s not hard to notice that our supersized military is a big cost item. Again and again in polls, voters have said in substantial majorities that they want to preserve programs like Medicare and Social Security. Poll have also consistently found that voters want military spending cut rather than cutting these critical safety nets, and they’d also be willing to raise taxes to preserve them.
Now normally, the wishes of the American public don’t count for anywhere near as much as they should; the pet desires of large corporations and wealthy donors carry more weight. But we are just a hair more than six months away from Congressional elections in which the Democrats are at real risk of losing the Senate, and the Republicans plan to pound hard on the unpopularity of Obamacare. Mind you, overall poll numbers, which give the impression that the insurance scheme is gaining more support, don’t give a full picture. For the most part, the respondents who give positive marks to Obamacare aren’t terribly keen about it, while many of its opponents dislike it intensely. Citizens with strong sentiments are more likely to go out and vote. Moreover, we also anticipate that satisfaction levels will drop as many users come to realize that what they’ve gotten are costly policies that don’t provide much in the way of coverage.
So focusing Americans on foreign threats was a way to divert attention from Obama’s domestic policy train wrecks: his failure to rein in global-economy-wrecking banksters; catastrophically high levels of unemployment, particularly among recent college graduates, a housing “recovery” that is faltering thanks to private equity buyers pulling back; his ongoing support for a burgeoning surveillance state. And that’s just a starter list. One of my disillusioned but well-connected insiders says that Democratic party operatives are pushing Thomas Piketty’s new book on inequality hard in the media because, despite inequality getting worse under Obama, media attention on wealth disparity favors the Democrats as the presumed lesser evil on that topic.
But now the strategy of positioning Obama as a war (lite) leader is backfiring. And the negative public reaction is coming close enough to the midterms that the Administration might feel compelled to take heed.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs even as a showdown with Russia over Ukraine preoccupies Washington, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
In a marked change from past decades, nearly half of those surveyed want the U.S. to be less active on the global stage, with fewer than one-fifth calling for more active engagement—an anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines….
The poll showed that approval of President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy sank to the lowest level of his presidency, with 38% approving, at a time when his overall job performance drew better marks than in recent months…
Similarly, the Pew Research Center last year found a record 53% saying that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally” and let other countries get along as best they can, compared with 41% who said so in 1995 and 20% in 1964.
“The juxtaposition of an America that wants to turn inward and away from world affairs, and a strong feeling of powerlessness domestically, is a powerful current that so far has eluded the grasp of Democrats and Republicans,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “The message from the American public to their leaders in this poll seems to be: You need to take care of business here at home.”…
Support for Mr. Obama’s handling of Russian intervention in Ukraine slipped to 37% in the new poll from 43% in March.
This is the critical chart from the poll:
I’m a bit surprised at this finding, which shows globalization to be less unpopular than in 2007 and 2008, when unemployment was lower:
However, the Wall Street Journal depicts this result as a “consistent majority of Americans believe globalization has been bad and question the usefulness of free-trade pacts.” And in contrast to December 2007 and March 2008, where “free trade” stories weren’t getting much play, the Administration has been on a big media push to sell the TransPacific Partnership and its cousin, the Tranatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to the American public. So even with a big public relations push, most Americans remain skeptical about big-corporate-favoring trade deals.
We said back in 2010 that Obama believed that every policy problem could be solved by better propaganda. That strategy looks to have reached its sell-by date. My bet is that Obama, despite his carefully cultivated 11th-dimensional chess reputation, does not have a backup approach in his arsenal.