Democratic Caterwauling Over President Barack Obama’s New Unpopularity
–Richard E. Vatz
“Rasmussen Reports” writes today that its “…daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 27% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -17 [‘calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve’). Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports…Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove.”
Rasmussen Reports’ “ten most important issues” do not even include Iran’s game-changing potential acquisition of nuclear weapons.
The dominant liberal Democratic response to this bad news of the President and his policies’ increasing unpopularity is to cry “foul,” ignore the substantive failures and putative failures of the Obama administration and attack the newly anti-Obama public as stupid, and conservative media as contributorily mendacious.
One prototype that is representative of this reaction is found in an already well-distributed blog in the August 25 New York Times “Opinionator,” “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings,” by longtime former Times reporter Timothy Egan.
Egan, in his over-eagerness to discredit the public’s appalled dissatisfaction with President Obama’s domestic and foreign failures, like so many writers, makes a mountain out of a molehill regarding the public’s unknowledgeability.
He cites a Time Magazine poll that claims that 46 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama is a Muslim, choosing, of course, to ignore a larger, more representative PEW poll cited in the same article Egan references that claims the figure to be 31%. So much for punctilious honesty.
Pollsters used to call people who manifested tenuous links to factual reality “Know Nothings,” as does Egan currently, and with the poor sourcing proliferation in the internet age, this is now more rampant than ever. Add to this the fact that President Obama has Muslim kin and a Muslim middle name – now why would that confuse anyone?
Egan’s complaint reveals post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning, however, because people don’t dislike Obama due to their misinformation; they sport misinformation because of their disliking the youthful and articulate but hopelessly liberal and naïve president.
Egan says “But if they [Democrats]lose [in November], it should be because their policies are unpopular or ill-conceived — not because millions of people believe a lie.”
Again, Democrats won’t lose because “millions of people believe a lie;” on the contrary, people believe false things about the president because they dislike his presidency. It’s called cognitive consonance.
Egan says further that “those who believe Obama to be Muslim say they got their information from the media. But no reputable news agency — that is, fact-based, one that corrects its errors quickly — has spread such inaccuracies.”
Egan takes these people who believe patent falsehoods and accepts unquestioningly that they “got their information from the media,” ignoring the traditional sociological buzzing, blooming confusion that feeds angry people who look for support for their cognitions.
He then says the suspects for the purveying of false information are Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The latter is defined exclusively in the following way: “whose parent company has given $1 million to Republican causes this year but still masquerades as a legitimate source of news.”
No contrast is offered to all of the liberal connections over the years of network news, from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather and his attendance at Democratic functions, to Peter Jennings to Katie Couric’s long-held liberal precepts to all of the evidence in Bernard Goldberg’s Bias and his later work on liberal media (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media) support for Barack Obama due to network liberal proclivities.
One could call Egan’s thesis evidentiarily challenged, but it is more precise to say some of his major conclusions need more evidence than one unexamined factoid. Egan uses Glenn Beck to personify Fox’s inaccuracies – why? Regardless, he points out that Beck played fast and loose with his claim that Michelle Obama’s vacation in Spain was “just for her and approximately 40 of her friends” and that Limbaugh maintained that they leased “60 rooms at a five-star hotel – paid by you.”
False, indicates Egan. The totality of his proof of the extent of this misinformation: “The White House said Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha were accompanied by just a few friends — and they paid their own costs.”
One issue, one disputed interpretation in which selected conservative commentators may have exaggerated the facts from a less-than-full-disclosure White House, and you have a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Near the end of his argument, Egan provides a stunning false analogy and non-sequitur, exacerbated by the incomplete premise on which it is based: “[F]alse belief in weapons of mass-destruction [WMD] led the United States to a trillion-dollar war.”
All of the major democracies believed the intelligence reports that indicated Iraq was on the precipice of producing WMD, and extensive FBI interviews by George Piro of Saddam reveal the likelihood, if not the certainty, that he would have resurrected plans for such acquisition.
Blind defenders of the destructive domestic and foreign policies of President Obama may search for misperceptions regarding the president, but such factual errors are virtually irrelevant to the opposition the President substantively and accurately deserves.
One consistent complaint by liberals may have some selected truth to it: this is not your father’s conservatism.
Right — there are right-wing crazies…and left-wing crazies. There have always been conservatives — and liberals — on the fringe. There are also fewer Howard Bakers than before, and fewer Birch and Evan Bayhs as well.
Regardless, the new Know-Nothings may not be opposed to President Obama because of their errancies regarding his lineage or because of what they hear on conservative media, but because of his ideological domestic and foreign policies, which are devastating to the United States economy and national security.
Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University