Right on the heels of Allahpundit’s post from last evening comes a poll — a pair of polls, actually — from Reuters that may suggest President Obama’s numbers haven’t quite bottomed out yet. First, on overall approval, O’s at (38/55) with a (-19) intensity gap — via Phil Kerpen:
Reuters/Ipsos: Obama Approve/Disapprove 37.5/55.1 Strongly 15.6/35.0 pic.twitter.com/vXi07of5T2
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) June 9, 2014
That’s from their rolling presidential approval tracker, which has pegged Obama’s job approval deep underwater for months. In that sense, AP’s thesis from yesterday remains intact: The president’s ratings haven’t suffered that badly from the VA mess and the Bergdahl firestorm because they’ve been terrible for some time, perhaps more so in this polling series than in others. As a point of reference, last week’s Fox News national survey was only slightly more favorable than the Reuters’ tracking data, measuring Obama’s base approval at (40/54). Why do a soon-to-be lame duck president’s ratings matter anyway? According to Sean Trende’s always-insightful analysis, history suggests that they should matter a great deal to Congressional Democrats on the ballot this fall. Which brings us to Reuters poll number two, which specifically asks about the ‘Taliban Five’ trade. Pew’s figures — also released late yesterday — showed general disapproval of the deal at (-9), including an arresting (-52) among veterans. Here’s the Reuters data, which AP tacked on as an update:
Americans harbor mixed emotions about the issues at play in the Bergdahl affair, most of which cut against the administration’s call. While nearly 80 percent go with the no-brainer answer on the US making “every effort” to recover its POWs, fully two-thirds see the Taliban trade as setting a “dangerous precedent” that could endanger Americans in the future. All told, support for the specific deal Obama cut sits 15 points underwater (29/44) in this survey, a far cry from the anticipated (or not actually anticipated, based on which version of spin you’re working off of) “euphoric” public response. But given the substantial chunk of undecideds, are these numbers salvageable for the administration? Not if people catch wind of stories like Eli Lake’s latest scoop:
A top intelligence official told lawmakers in a classified Senate briefing last week that he expected four out of the five Taliban leaders released by the Obama administration to eventually return to the battlefield. According to a pair of U.S. officials, the briefing from Robert Cardillo, a deputy director of national intelligence, represented the latest community-wide U.S. intelligence assessment on these Taliban Five, completed in 2013…U.S. officials told House intelligence committee members Monday that the Taliban Five would be reunited with their families and free to meet anyone they choose, but they will be monitored by both U.S. and Qatari intelligence. The Daily Beast reported last week that many top U.S. intelligence officials worried that Qatar would not keep its word; these American officials were concerned that any monitoring the U.S. would be able to do in Qatar would need to be approved by the country’s security service—which might mean very little monitoring at all.
No wonder DiFi characterized the swap as a “mixed bag at best” on Sunday morning. Our intelligence community’s best assessment was that at least four of the five freed Taliban commanders would eventually return to jihad; in the meantime, they’re able to meet with anyone they please as they wait out their one-year travel ban — which may or may not be strictly enforced by our Qatari security “partners.” On a related note, is this a red line from John Kerry, or is he just spitballing? Erika noted last night that some Hill Democrats continue to criticize the president for not informing at least a handful of relevant Congressional members. The administration’s latest in a cavalcade of excuses for declining to doing so was that they were too concerned about a leak that might endanger Bergdahl’s life. The secret (which wasn’t much of a secret, dating back years) had to be closely held. Very, very closely held:
headline out of closed door house briefing on #Bergdahl is 80-90 admin members knew about swap (& not congress). outstanding ?- who&how much
— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) June 9, 2014
Dozens of administration officials, plus the Qataris (and possibly even the terrorists themselves) knew before Congress. So where should critics of the deal, including a Texas Republican who was held for seven grueling years as a POW, take their complaints? Team Obama seems to be struggling to stay on the same page over minor details, such as who made the final call:
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) June 10, 2014
Click through to the Standard’s story to read a series of quotes from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) expressing “disgust” over Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers stepping forward to “demonize” their former comrade. She affirms that she’s talking about these guys. And lest anyone doubt how face-first-in-the-tank she is for Obama in all of this, Schakowsky adds that the Taliban/Bergdahl swap was a “perfect solution.” Not a flawed but necessary gambit. Not an excruciating decision, fraught with peril and trade-offs. Perfection.