Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The battle to the strong (on foreign policy)

New polls show Obama regaining support. This, from CNN, is interesting:

The survey indicates that 54 percent of Americans approve of how the president's handling the economy, up 5 points from late August. Fifty-seven percent of those questioned approve of how Obama's dealing with health care, up 7 points from late last month. The poll suggests that the president's up 7 points on the issue of taxes, from 45 percent to 52 percent, up 10 points on how he's dealing with the federal budget deficit, from 36 percent to 46 percent, and up 4 points, to 58 percent, on foreign affairs.

I've said this before, but I really think that what could put a stake through the heart of the GOP is if the Democrats become the more trusted party on security and foreign affairs. Despite all the teabaggery and town hall protests, the GOP hasn't held the upper hand on domestic policy for about thirty years (since the early days of Reagan, basically). The notion that they're going to make a comeback based upon the same old ideas strikes me as, umm, insane, considering that the Democrats even now are still trusted to a much greater extent than the Republicans on every major domestic issue.

Historically, Republicans have tried to disguise a weak domestic policy that basically involves running on the same issue positions and emphases every election cycle with a "strong" foreign policy, which has come to mean aggressive military use, disregard for civil liberties and human decency, war profiteering and aggressive measures to discredit critics. Democrats have frequently played along--hence John Kerry turning questions about war into questions about Bush cutting VA spending in 2004, or talking about how he was for supplemental Iraq spending before he was against it, or Hillary Clinton voting for Lieberman's hawkish Iran bill in September 2007. But Iraq has torpedoed any sort of Republican claim to foreign policy competence beyond their base, and if Obama wraps up two terms as successful on foreign policy as he is now--and with some significant domestic reforms under the Democrats' belts--I don't see what opening the Republicans will have to regain power, especially if they keep acting as they have been.

I do think it would be ironic if Obama's foreign policy wound up buttressing his approval numbers for now, at least until some of the big-ticket items pass. For all the comparisons to Kennedy, Roosevelt, Reagan, etc., for the moment the president Obama seems to resemble most is George H. W. Bush.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.