Consider this paradox: Americans overwhelmingly support President Obama's actions against the Islamic State so far—airstrikes and humanitarian assistance without ground troops—and yet they disapprove of Obama's handling of the ISIS crisis. Why the split mind?
The White House and its liberal media echo chamber says it has nothing to do with the president's job performance, which they find virtually flawless. Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer played the victim card: "The people who try to beat us up over these things will continue to do so." The Huffington Post blamed the American people; we're too stupid to know what's good for us.
Not everyone follows foreign policy all that closely: Nearly a third of Americans think the U.S. has bombed Syria recently, and nearly a quarter were willing to opine on nonexistent legislation addressing Ukraine. In the absence of extensive knowledge of U.S. military actions, many end up relying on other cues, like partisanship—in the most recent CNN/ORC poll, Democrats were nearly six times more likely than Republicans to say Obama was doing a good job handling ISIS.
In defense of my fellow Americans, I have a different theory. It goes to the reason that just 37 percent of the public approve of Obama's handling of the ISIS crisis, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, and only 43 percent consider him a "strong leader" in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
- He doesn't seem to be taking the threat seriously enough.
- His assurances are habitually wrong.
- He stubbornly clings to his views.
For a sense of how much harm Obama has done to his image as commander in chief, read Peter Baker's analysis in The New York Times on Tuesday. He makes a powerful, if not unique, argument that Obama's assessment of the world is at odds with hard reality.
When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the "JV team."
Nor does he seem likely to describe Iraq as "sovereign, stable, and self-reliant" with a "representative government." And presumably he will not assert after more than a decade of conflict that "the tide of war is receding."
Those are Obama's past assurance, all proven wrong well after he abandoned them. There's more.