The influential website pollster.com’s composite poll shows for the first time that more people disapprove of President Obama’s handling of his job than approve.
Obama’s DISAPPROVAL rating is 48.3%, his APPROVAL rating is 47.8%.
Although this is a statistically insignificant difference, what is significant is that Obama’s approval rating has been on an almost steady decline since last January. To be more accurate, Obama’s approval ratings declined steadily until about August when they dropped sharply, held firm from about August to late November, when they again began to drop significantly. Looking at Obama’s approval rating vs. his disapproval rating looks like looking at a picture of an obstructed intestine with the gap between the two steadily narrowing until now, the disapproval rating is larger. Pollster.com’s rating is a composite of all the major polls. The site itself is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and run with the assistance of highly regarded political scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
It is not clear yet if the poll reflects opinion on Obama’s widely derided Afghanistan escalation speech in which he lied to the American public while claiming that Afghanistan was responsible for the planning of 9/11 and its execution. In fact 14 out of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, NONE from Afghanistan while the attack was planned in Hamburg, Germany, not in Afghanistan. Thus, Wikipedia, relying on information from the FBI and the official 9/11 Commission reports that:
On September 27, 2001 the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers, along with information about many of their possible nationalities and aliases. All the suspected hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.
In his West Point speech, Obama also presented a withdrawal or exit date of July, 2011 for his troop escalation but Secretary of Defense Gates and Secretary of State Clinton almost immediately began hedging on this pledge making it clear it was pretty much meaningless, a "promise" made by Obama purely for political reasons. The New York Times today makes this clear in their story entitled, "No Firm Plans for a U.S. Exit in Afghanistan":
The Obama administration sent a forceful public message Sunday that American military forces could remain in Afghanistan for a long time, seeking to blunt criticism that President Obama had sent the wrong signal in his war-strategy speech last week by projecting July 2011 as the start of a withdrawal.
In a flurry of coordinated television interviews by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top administration officials…said that any troop pullout beginning in July 2011 would be slow and that the Americans would only then be starting to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces under Mr. Obama’s new plan.
“We have strategic interests in South Asia that should not be measured in terms of finite times,” said Gen. James L. Jones, the president’s national security adviser, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’re going to be in the region for a long time.”
Echoing General Jones, Mr. Gates played down the significance of the July 2011 target date.
“There isn’t a deadline,” Mr. Gates said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province in Afghanistan, to the Afghans.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Gates said that under the plan, 100,000 American troops would be in Afghanistan in July 2011, and “some handful, or some small number, or whatever the conditions permit, will begin to withdraw at that time.”
In his prime-time address at West Point on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said that even as he planned to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, his administration would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”
On Sunday, the administration’s top civilian and military officials marched in lockstep in insisting that July 2011 was just the beginning, not the end, of a lengthy process. That date, General Jones said, is a “ramp” rather than a “cliff.”
As they seek to explain the new war strategy, administration officials face the task of calibrating the message about America’s commitments in Afghanistan to different audiences, foreign and domestic, each of whom wants to hear different things.
In other words, Obama’s benchmark is not a benchmark, his withdrawal date is not really a withdrawal date, and the President engaged in the worst type of pandering for votes by misleading the American people as to the real intentions of his administration. So too, Obama’s much ballyhooed intention to use the escalation to train Afghan troops is a chimera since it is obvious they will not be ready in the 18 months that Obama envisioned in his speech. The Christian Science Monitor pointedly questions the entire rationale of Obama’s pledge in an article, "Afghanistan Surge: What can it Achieve in 18 Months?":
"I don’t consider this an exit strategy," said Gates on ABC’s "This Week." …She (Hillary Clinton) agreed that the president’s plan was not an "exit strategy." … "We will have a significant number of forces in there for some considerable period of time after" July 2011, Gates told "Meet the Press."
Just days after his speech, Obama’s rationale for the escalation and his vision of what will happen has been completely undermined–by officials in his own administration. Obama did not want to tell the truth to the American people: the U.S.A. will be mired in the Afghanistan conflict for many, many years and its cost will be much, much greater than Obama’s projections. So, we see Obama in his real role: Chief Fairy Tale Teller.
Washington Post columnist David Broder has pointed out that Obama’s escalation has not gone over well in his own party. All four candidates vying for former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachussets, for instance, disagree with the President on Afghanistan:
All four — including the favorite in Tuesday’s primary, state Attorney General Martha Coakley — said that they opposed the president’s decision to escalate. Referring to Obama’s promise to begin bringing an unspecified number of the "surge" forces home by July 2011, Coakley said, "It seems to me it’s impractical, given what we think the mission is, the number of troops we’re sending over.
"We really won’t be able to be finished in 18 months and start an exit strategy there."
The rejection of Obama’s argument by the leading candidate in an overwhelmingly Democratic state shows how much the president has failed to convince his fellow partisans that he is right about the biggest national security policy decision of his tenure.
It is symptomatic of a bigger problem; Coakley and her rivals are emblematic of widespread Democratic dissent on Afghanistan.
A president who wages a war supported mainly by his political foes and opposed by large numbers of his own party runs a huge political risk. Even if he prevails for a time, he pays a price: the loss of his most loyal supporters.
That loss actually began months ago when Obama began abandoning the very program that he was elected upon. In truth, Obama has for some time been seeking support from Republican "foes" on health "insurance reform" on the economy and on Afghanistan while consistently dissing his liberal-progressive base. Some of his policy makers, like Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are outright Republicans while others, like Geithner and Summers, could have been advisors to Republican president Herbert Hoover.
The decline in Obama’s approval rating doubtless also shows that the public overall is increasingly disenchanted with the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and his actions in other areas. The timid approach of the Obama administration towards the unemployment/economic crisis in which Obama has sided with Wall St. over Main St. also likely has fueled an uptick in his disapproval ratings.
These latest numbers show the shine is off the Obama brand less than a year after he took office. They also indicate that the Democrats, once seen as a lock for the 2010 mid-term elections, will have an uphill battle ahead of them if the GOP ties them to an increasingly unpopular president.
In 2010, the GOP will use the same strategy that Obama used so effectively against his opponents in 2008, with Obama playing the W. role. If progressive Democrats want to withstand the storm in 2010, they must stand up against their own party’s President or be blown away.