The president gave a big speech on ISIS, but the New York Times/CBS poll says the public's not supporting him:
Despite his speech announcing his strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last week, President Obama receives criticism for his most recent foreign policy challenge -- the situation with the ISIS militants -- and his approval ratings on handling terrorism and foreign policy have also taken a hit.Let's see: What did the public want done, according to a CNN poll taken shortly before the speech?
According to a new CBS News/New York Times poll, 57 percent of Americans don't think Mr. Obama is being tough enough in dealing with ISIS militants, while just 31 percent think his approach is about right.
The poll released Monday shows that Americans favor:And this differs from the president's plan how exactly? But no -- he announced his strategy, and the public heard it coming out of his mouth, so they don't like it now.
-- Additional airstrikes against ISIS (76% favor, 23% oppose)
-- Military aid to forces fighting ISIS (62% favor, 37% oppose)
-- Providing humanitarian aid to people fleeing ISIS (83% favor, 16% oppose)
But a majority of Americans, 61%-38%, oppose placing U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Syria to combat the terrorist group.
The majority of Americans -- certainly a significant majority of white Americans -- now just hate everything Obama does, even if he's doing essentially what they want. I'm not sure Obama's numbers would go up if a U.S. airstrike killed the head of ISIS, or a U.S. raid rescued all the Western hostages, or both. Too many Americans just don't like Obama anymore. They've internalized the Republican message of "Everything Obama favors is bad, even if we favored it a week ago."
Republicans have delivered this message in a very disciplined manner, and they've always found a receptive audience for it with about a third of the country. But a large percentage of the population had a fair amount (or quite a bit) of good feeling about Obama at least through the 2012 elections. Even through the first year and a half of his second term, even as ordinary Americans' economy didn't bounce back, the federal government remained dysfunctional, and the administration dealt with a lot of bad stories (the Obamacare rollout, the NSA, the IRS, Benghazi), Obama's approval ratings hovered around the mid-40s.
But this summer was tough, and I think part of the problem was that Obama messaging no longer matched the country's mood. The baby-kissing and celebrity-schmoozing images pumped out by Team Obama for years might have caused pundits to harrumph, but they probably maintained goodwill with a significant portion of the public, especially voters who don't pay a lot of attention to politics. We saw that the president played a lot of golf, but only Fox viewers cared.
ISIS beheadings and Russian adventurism and the child refugee crisis and Ferguson and Ebola really seem to have changed the mood. Is the world going to hell in a handbasket any faster than usual? Maybe not, but Americans seem to think it is, and the president isn't playing to that perception.
I actually think Obama is picking his way carefully and responsibly through various thorny problems. I think he's become the opposite of what a lot of people thought he might be as president: a better doer than a talker.
But the public seems to want a great, ongoing show of resolve and gravity and rally-round-the-flag and so on. These are often just a lot of wind -- you know that because the last president was awfully good at them -- but sometimes, as president, the crowd gets restless and your best move is just to play the hits. I think that's where we are right now.