A top priority of the Obama presidency has been to restore the image of the United States in the world; in image allegedly left in tatters by the Bush administration. Unfortunately for the president, however, Americans by a wide margin now believe that that the United States standing in the world has not improved, but actually declined since President Obama took office.
According to a poll conducted in late February and released this week by Democracy Corps-Third Way, Americans by a 10-point margin think that the standing of the United States has dropped under Obama — by a whopping 51 percent to 41 percent. On the question of national security, Democrats now trail Republicans by 17 percent, and on the “right-track, wrong track,” question just 31 feel the country is headed in the right directions, with a massive 62 percent registering discontent.
Reported in The Washington Times, though not much in evidence in other “mainstream media,” the poll is far from the product of a hopeful conservative imagination. Democracy Corps-Third Way is a Democratic polling group headed by former Clinton adviser James Carville and Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg. Their purpose is to warn Democrats of the electoral turbulence ahead. “We would not want the election to be held today, with this poll, Greenberg told the newspaper. “If the election were held today, this would be a ‘change election.’”
The authors of the survey expressed surprise over the decline among Americans of their view of America’s international clout, given such international recognition as the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. But it should not come as a surprise.
Though resembling Jimmy Carter to some degree in this regard, Barack Obama has set an all-time record for almost instinctively disparaging the United States on foreign soil. In a list of Obama’s apologies, the Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner and Morgan Roach include: “America has shown arrogance,” France, April 2009; “We have not been perfect,” interview with Al Arabiya January 2009; “At times we sought to dictate our own terms,” Trinidad and Tobago, April 2009; “We went off course,” Washington DC, May, 2009, “Our own darker periods in our history,” Washington D.C., May, 2009, and on and on. This approach may be popular with foreign audiences, but it is not so with Americans, whose sons and daughters today are fighting on foreign soil to advance freedom and stability for other nations.
In addition, the White House lack of protocol when it comes to handling foreign leaders has been characterized by a lack of understanding of the basics of diplomacy, which makes the U.S. government seem hopelessly clumsy at best, and arrogant and insensitive at worst. This list includes, of course, the president’s gifts of an iPod with his own speeches to the Queen of England and a set of non-workable videos to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – and of course Hillary Clinton’s famously mistranslated “reset” button given to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In addition the president has insulted the king of Norway, the president of France and the prime minister of the Czech Republic by declining invitations to break bread with them during official visits.
Americans overall are very patriotic, and especially at a time of war, they do not appreciate their country being humiliated on the world stage and talked down over and over again – by no less than their own president.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this post misidentified one Presidential gift. It is now correct.