One of the little nuggets to be found in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is the level of support that the American people expressed for Obama’s decision to leave GITMO open. 67% of Americans approved of leaving Guantanamo Bay open, and only 29% disapproved.
When the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked Americans to rank their support for some recent decisions made by President Obama the results were a little surprising. The most popular decision that Obama made was to allow offshore drilling to resume. 71% of respondents approved and only 29% disapproved. The second most popular decision Obama made was to leave GITMO open. 67% of Americans approved, and 29% disapproved. The third most popular decision was the no fly zone over Libya. 66% approved and 30% disapproved. 58% approved of Obama’s proposed domestic spending freeze.
The only recent decision that Obama has made that was unpopular with the American people was his decision to continue the war in Afghanistan. Only 39% favored Obama’s decision to continue the war, 56% were not in favor of staying in Afghanistan.
These are not the poll numbers of an unpopular or untrusted president. A large majority of Americans agreed with this president on four of his five decisions. These are not the kinds of results that endangered incumbent faces a year before he is up for reelection. The American people seem to trust Obama’s decision making and his judgment.
The real stunner here for progressives is how widely supported Obama’s decision to keep GITMO open is. Progressives including Rachel Maddow have been filleting Obama for his decision to keep the prison open for weeks, but it turns out that these critics are in the minority. It could be that these are still some pangs Bush inspired terrorism fears that are leading Americans to support GITMO, or maybe Americans are not comfortable with the idea of detainees being housed in the US? Until a pollster asks exactly these questions, we won’t know.
The data from this poll is a dose of hard reality for progressives who like to think of themselves as Obama’s base. The truth is that they are all small part of Obama’s base, and the White House is fully aware of this. There is an entire bloc of Americans who don’t follow the progressive movement but came out en mass to elect Barack Obama in 2008. These people are the Obama Democrats, and they are in many ways separate from the progressive movement.
It is not a coincidence that 29% disapproved of Obama’s decisions to resume offshore drilling, leave GITMO open, and only one point more disapproved of the no fly zone over Libya. Progressives make up anywhere from 25%-29% of Americans. According to polling, the Tea Party is supported by about 29% of America. As painful as this might be for progressives to realize, the reality is that your movement is about on par with the Tea Party in terms of support and self-described identification.
Progressives and Tea Partiers and over represented in the Internet discussion and both place a premium on purity. If one were to only read the progressive Internet discussion about Obama, you would come away thinking that he is doomed one termer, when the big picture reveals that Obama is in a good position to be reelected in 2012.
Barack Obama’s decisions on GITMO and Libya may disappoint many progressives, but they are very popular with most Americans. Progressives are not wrong to feel the way they feel, and I want GITMO closed as much as anybody, but Obama is the President of the United States and if he made decisions based on what the progressives wanted, his decisions would be unpopular with about 2/3 of the country.
When progressive bash Obama’s recent decisions are they really upset at this president, or are they upset that more Americans don’t agree with them? The reality of human nature is that is probably a bit of both.
Progressives have a right to feel the way they about Obama’s decision to leave GITMO open, but they have to face the fact that 67% of America disagrees with them.
Instead of bashing Obama maybe progressives would be better served by directing their energy towards getting more Americans to adopt their position on closing Guantanamo Bay.
Image: The Jawa Report