CBS/NYT poll: Obama tanking on foreign policy

posted at 2:41 pm on September 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Remember when Barack Obama’s campaign strategy depicted him as the foreign-policy President? Good times, good times.  The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows his approval rating plummeting on foreign policy among all political demographics, and 40/49 overall:

About half of Americans disapprove of the way President Obama is handling foreign policy, a new high as he confronts a diplomatic opening with Iran and efforts to remove chemical arms in Syria, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Forty-nine percent disapproved of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy efforts, up 10 points since early June, and 40 percent approved.

The president’s negative rating on foreign policy has grown among Americans of all political stripes, with disapproval up 8 points among Democrats, 10 points among Republicans and 13 points among independents.

The poll also found that 52 percent disapproved of the way Mr. Obama was handling the situation in Syria. On his handling of relations with Iran, 39 percent approved, while 44 percent disapproved.

“I think he’s looking very weak, and he put us in a dangerous situation with Syria,” Arlene Woods, 57, an independent voter from Ellicott City, Md., said in a follow-up interview. “I have a son in the military. When it doesn’t involve our own safety or security on our soil, then I don’t think it’s justifiable to use military force.”

To get an idea of just how badly Obama has stumbled on Syria, one has to look at the data series from the NYT/CBS poll on foreign policy after Benghazi.  Six weeks after the terrorist attack and four weeks after the collapse of the “YouTube video” narrative, Obama had a 49/41 approval rating on foreign policy.  By December, it had rebounded to 51/32.  As late as June, Obama was still above water at 45/39, with 16% unsure at that time just what Obama was doing.  The current 40/49 rating is his worst since March 2012′s 40/41 and April 2011′s 39/46.  The difference? Probably the exodus of Democrats and independents after seeing the Nobel Peace Prize winner demand approval for war as a first resort, which may well prove temporary.

Or, perhaps not.  Despite a month’s worth of messaging about the necessity of American involvement in Syria, voters refuse to budge on the subject.  In December 2012, the poll showed a 27/62 split on American responsibility; nine months and several presidential pronouncements later, it’s 26/68, slightly worse.

What about the fallback position Obama seized when his administration fumbled on military action?  Voters aren’t terribly impressed with that, either.  Only 33% think that it’s at all likely that Syria will comply with an agreement to get rid of chemical weapons, with 66% thinking it unlikely or very unlikely.  If Syria balks, support for American military action of any kind comes to a paltry 39/57.  An even wider margin doesn’t think that chemical weapons should get a higher response than any other mass killing of civilians, 25/68, undermining another of Obama’s arguments for military intervention.

In other words, Obama is as weak as he was before retreating on the military strikes. Over the weekend, the Economist — hardly a bastion for American intervention or conservative thought — called that retreat “a new low for those who cherish freedom“:

Yet the deal looks good only because the mess Mr Obama had got himself into was so bad. Step back, and the outcome looks rotten.

For a start, the deal itself is flimsy because it will be so hard to enforce. Mr Obama reserves the right to attack a delinquent Syria but the unpopularity of military action among America’s voters makes it clear that only an egregious breach, such as another chemical attack, could stir the country to action. Although Mr Putin would lose face if Syria brazenly defied the agreement, he now knows that Mr Obama needs his support. Given that Russia cares more about diplomatic parity with America than about de-fanging Mr Assad, it is more likely to prolong the crisis than resolve it. Nor is it clear that Russia can force Syria to comply. Mr Assad may co-operate at first, when the will to enforce the deal is strongest. But it is hard to impose disarmament during a civil war. As time drags on, Mr Assad is likely to frustrate the process—both to keep some chemical weapons and to be seen to defy America.

America’s credibility as an ally has been undermined. Whereas Mr Putin has stood firmly by Mr Assad, even while 100,000 people have perished, the West has proved an inconstant friend to the opposition. Two years ago, when only a few thousand Syrians had died, the liberal democracies called for Mr Assad’s ousting, but Mr Obama refused to get mixed up in the fight, even though the regime was reeling. His lone attempt not to look weak was the promise to punish any use of chemical weapons. Since then the formerly largely moderate rebel force has become infested by Sunni extremists, including foreign fighters and al-Qaeda.

As for Syria so for the Middle East. The Arab spring has driven a wedge between the West and its allies. Mr Obama recently sent his envoy to Cairo to ask the generals not to fire on an encampment of protesting Muslim Brothers. But, in an echo of Sadat, the generals preferred to heed Saudi advice, shoot the Brothers and collect billions of dollars of Arab aid. When the cold war ended, the West’s leadership showed imagination and resolve; no historian looking back at the Arab spring will say the same.

Last, America’s credibility as an opponent has also suffered. That’s not because all red lines that politicians draw must always be enforced. A leader who freely chooses to walk away from a fight need not suffer any loss of prestige. But a leader who the world sees is unable to fulfil his promises is inevitably weakened. And although nobody doubts that America’s armed forces continue to enjoy overwhelming superiority, its unwillingness to use them undermines their ability to give force to its diplomacy.

Projecting weakness presents real danger to the US.  That’s why presidents who talk tough had better do the hard work to back up the words when it counts.


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Not to mention domestically.

John the Libertarian on September 25, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Nice tagline Ed
Heh

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

That’s why presidents who talk tough had better do the hard work to back up the words when it counts.

A lesson that an Affirmative Action loser like obozo can never learn.

Flange on September 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Just wait for the 2014 year to start. Hes gonna want be be living elsewhere… after all he said being in charge in China is so much better.

watertown on September 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Paper tiger

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Nice tagline Ed
Heh

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Hey cmsinaz-

What the hell are you doing at HA? Isn’t there a certain Triceratops Senator that you should be giving a piece of your mind? ;0

Seriously, the sun apparently has baked out all the good in your senior Senator.

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Leading with his behind…

PatriotRider on September 25, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Is this what JugEars meant when he said he would be “Leading from behind?”

pain train on September 25, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Good thing he’s got a solid backstop with Joe “3-State” Biden at his ready. Gravitas!

DanMan on September 25, 2013 at 2:50 PM

PatriotRider on September 25, 2013 at 2:49 P

Bastage…

pain train on September 25, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Paper tiger

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM

THIS.

This a$$hat is going to cost American lives across the globe. By the time he’s done, he’ll have so much American blood on his hands, he’ll look like the very terrorists we’re trying to kill.

HomeoftheBrave on September 25, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Nothing that another global apology tour won’t fix. Tickets for the next Cairo speech go on sale next week, though promoters warn it might be a live appearance via remote feed. Maybe Miley can join him as opening act, and they can bill it as Obama’s Wrecking Ball World Tour.

Christien on September 25, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Hey HN

Its like talking to a brick wall with that idiot….. I didn’t vote for him so my conscious is clear

Gotta find someone else

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Is this what JugEars meant when he said he would be “Leading from behind?”

pain train on September 25, 2013 at 2:49 PM

No.

When the thin-skinned rat talks about leading from behind. Think about the way dogs get to know one another.

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM

That’s why presidents who talk tough had better do the hard work to back up the words when it counts.

Pres. Mom Jeans—it ain’t happenin’

hillsoftx on September 25, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Gotta find someone else

cmsinaz on September 25, 2013 at 2:51 PM

No kidding!

Happy Nomad on September 25, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Projecting weakness presents real danger to the US.

Present!

BacaDog on September 25, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Time for another apology tour.

John the Libertarian on September 25, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Domestic thuggery, very important!!!

Limbaugh read a memo from the WH, ordering the LSM news outlets (ABC, NBC/MSNBC,CBS,CNN, etc.) to NOT do any reports on what is actually happening with prices of 0bamcare insurance policies.

Schadenfreude on September 25, 2013 at 2:57 PM

LOL, a poll on foreign policy.

3/4 of all Americans couldn’t find their own state, on a map of the United States.

They might as well poll them on the composition of quarks.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

More important lesson is the GOP….stop talking about getting involved in the Islamic world to save them from their own stupidity. Unless it is a smash and bomb raid (after they have done something to us), we want nothing to do with part of the world. Let them starve and kill each other, or go beg the Chinese for help, I don’t care…

William Eaton on September 25, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Remember the days of yore when not fully supporting a black preznit made you a racist? Those were some good times.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Remember the days of yore when not fully supporting a black preznit made you a racist? Those were some good times.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Paging Bishop.

Paging Bishop.

Bishop, report to the Ministry of Love.

Now.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

But…but…but Ed! The Obamassiah does EVERYTHING better than anyone else! Just ask Him! Better campaigner! Better speech writer! Better economist! Better health care manager.

Maybe King Barry should call in Joey Biden. Wasn’t he on the ticket because of his “foreign policy experience”?

Or maybe Hillary! She can bring along her “reset” button!

GarandFan on September 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM

How can that be so? Why just yesterday Obama informed the global community that the world has become safer than it was 5-1/2 years ago! How dare people doubt him, or was this poll taken before his pronouncement?

Queen0fCups on September 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM

BO don’t know al-Shabab from shish kabob, and BO definitely don’t know Diddley.

Christien on September 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Christians are being killed or driven from their homes all over the Middle East. Bush did nothing about this except to encourage even more of it. Obama is continuing the same policy and making it worse.

It’s not a question of “weakness”. American foreign policy has become anti-Christian, and practically as well as morally wrong.

David Blue on September 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I don’t have to report to the Ministry of Love, I got an exception based on my Amish membership.

Bishop on September 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM

That’s why presidents who talk tough had better do the hard work to back up the words when it counts.

A lesson that an Affirmative Action loser like obozo can never learn.

Flange on September 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Yep. When the scourge of Affirmative Action was sent upon us, no one really believed it would some day be used to elect the President of the United States.

slickwillie2001 on September 25, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Well, you know we should not be surprised at this.
afterall, the President of Iran just cmae here, and
indicated he did not have time to meet with every
Third World Dictator…

ToddPA on September 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Obama talks big and carries a big Al-Qaeda stick… until the public finds out about it.

MobileVideoEngineer on September 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

In the past few days, some analyst was noting that Obama now has incredibly weak advisers surrounding him. And worse, Obama continues to believe that he’s the smartest guy in every room he steps.

Talk about the ego that’s been created in an unaccomplished affirmative-action hack who’s been told all his life that the sun rises and sets with his sleep cycles.

Should anyone be surprised when his greatest “accomplishment” before getting elected in 2008 was running a campaign.

BuckeyeSam on September 25, 2013 at 3:26 PM

He doesn’t have a foreign policy.

And it shows.

ajacksonian on September 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM

MD nailed him

Schadenfreude on September 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Ed to Obama:

Projecting weakness presents real danger to the US. That’s why presidents who talk tough had better do the hard work to back up the words when it counts.

Obama to Ed: Wait…what?

Sacramento on September 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Wow sorry I voted for that turd Obama I thought he would prevent WWIII—signed Regretful Dem Idiot. In a year it will be sorry I voted fir that turd Obama I thought I’d get to keep my doctor and my premiums would go down.—signed unemployed underinsured Dem Idiot

neyney on September 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

I think we need to subpoena the names of those who think he’s doing a good job and petition the courts to have their voting privileges suspended. Clearly they are delusional and may by use of the franchise represent a direct threat to themselves and others.

Adjoran on September 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

I think we need to subpoena the names of those who think he’s doing a good job and petition the courts to have their voting privileges suspended. Clearly they are delusional and may by use of the franchise represent a direct threat to themselves and others.

Adjoran on September 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

The Obamaphone signup rolls would take care of about 80% of the LIV’s.

slickwillie2001 on September 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Polls, schmolls. Prez Quattro Pinocchio sez: “I WON the only two polls that matter.”

Marcola on September 25, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Obama: The presidential equivalent of a Max Headroom….all talk, no substance

BobMbx on September 25, 2013 at 4:58 PM