The latest CNN/ORC poll tells the story: By a margin of 57 to 40 percent, Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy. With regard to handling the Islamic State, they disapprove by a remarkable 64 to 33 percent. The same lopsided margin (60 to 38 percent) disapproves of his handling of terrorism and thinks the war in Iraq and Syria is going badly. Sixty-eight percent think we have not been aggressive enough, only 4 percent think we have been too aggressive in our military response and a robust 53 percent favor sending ground troops. Finally, 61 percent of Americans think it is at least somewhat likely we will have a terrorist attack in the next few weeks.
Obama’s perfunctory and vapid speech last night is unlikely to improve matters. We therefore have a public prepared to face up to our threats and a commander in chief who is not. There is, in effect, a consensus of no confidence in the president.
And who can blame the public? Nearly everything Obama has said about our threats is wrong. To recount:
“The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated.”
“The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year.” (2011)
“A decade of war is now ending.”
“The analogy we use around here sometimes [for the Islamic State], and I think is accurate, is if a J.V. team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
“In Iraq and Syria, American leadership, including our military power, is stopping (the Islamic State’s) advance.”
“It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concern when you have a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shot a bunch of folks in a Deli in Paris.”
“I don’t think [the Islamic State is] gaining strength. What is true, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them.”
“It is possible that [that San Bernardino, Calif., shooting] was terrorist-related, but we don’t know. It’s also possible that this was workplace-related.” (Dec. 3)
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