The Re-Branding Of America, Ctd

Frum takes issue with this survey:

Can we take this report as definitive proof of how silly such surveys are? For any item about which people really care - their brand of toothpaste for example - opinion is legendarily difficult to move. If global approval of the United States can be swung so dramatically by an election return, does that not suggest (even assuming that the survey is valid) that global approval of the United States is a very shallow and fleeting attitude? That the movement in such attitudes is more like the swinging of the dials in a focus group than like a true change of mind? Anything that swings one way very fast can swing another way very fast - and that tells us that when we chase such fluctuating moods, we are chasing nebulous nothings.

Keep dreaming, David. The main reason for the dramatic swing is simply massive global relief that Bush and Cheney are now gone and some kind of rational discourse and diplomacy have replaced the "axis of evil" and "enhanced interrogation."

Some of us saw the potential for this a while back and hoped the inevitable burst of relief that torturers and debtors had left the building might re-position the US. Think of the way that deep depressions can lead to rapid recoveries. America was in a pit in 2008 not seen since 1979. Even originally unpopular presidents abroad, like Reagan, ended up respected. But not Bush and not Cheney. They still send shudders up most non-American spines (and plenty of American ones too).

I suspect even David is in denial as to how profoundly wrecked the American brand was after eight years of mounting debt, a bubble economy, withdrawal from the Geneva Conventions, denial of climate change, a pre-emptive war waged on false pretenses, and a president who was simply both out of his depth and wantonly reckless. We had the Republican equivalent of a two-term Carter presidency. Even America's best friends had been alienated and appalled.