Good news: U.S. favorable rating in Arab world now lower than during Bush era

Jonah Goldberg mockingly wonders how this can be when we were assured three years ago that the mere fact of O’s middle name would buy us a whole new line of credit in the Middle East. It’s almost as if that entire line of “argument” was an embarrassingly facile exercise in wishful thinking, designed to paper over deep political and cultural differences with a sub-moronic appeal to identity politics.

Follow the last link and read Alana Goodman’s take. As it is, I’ll pluck four goodies from the crosstabs for your consideration. First, Zogby’s data shows widespread disapproval in the six countries surveyed of “the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands” — while leaving that term conveniently left undefined. If the respondents simply mean to say that they want a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians on Gaza and the West Bank, well, fine. The White House can try to help them out on that. If they mean that Israel is occupying “Palestinian land” through its mere existence, then the poll is not only useless but self-discrediting. Zogby should have pressed for specificity.

Speaking of self-discrediting, presented without comment:

Okay, one comment. I could understand voting “no impact” — one of the lessons of the Arab Spring is that many people care more about bread and butter economic issues than terror drama — but “no impact” fails to carry a majority in any of the five countries surveyed. On the contrary, there are clear majorities in every last one, including a near-supermajority among our good friends in Egypt, who say killing Bin Laden hurt their opinion of the United States. Good enough to say “to hell with them”? Or do you need this too?

Iran’s racing towards nuclear weapons which it’ll use to terrorize and extort the Sunni world, and yet, aside from the Kingdom, Ahmadinejad polls higher than Obama in every single one. If only there was something he could do to endear himself to the public. Oh wait — he did do something. He launched a war against Qaddafi to prove to Arab protesters that he was on the side of the people against the tyrants who oppressed them. Two polls on how that’s working out goodwill-wise:

In four countries, including pivotal Egypt, he’s deeply underwater in his handling of Libya, and in five of the six the Libya mission is as low a priority or even lower than finally winding down the Iraq war. Too bad didn’t Zog didn’t poll directly on how important, say, drone strikes in Pakistan or the escalation in Afghanistan are to those surveyed: One possible explanation for why his numbers are worse than Bush’s is because, in certain ways, his counterterror policy has been Bush squared. But we do have a proxy for that question — the Bin Laden data — and it speaks volumes about where people come down in the debate between U.S. counterterror priorities and the sacred inviolable sovereignty of Muslim lands. Oh well. Agree to disagree.