Free Markets, Free People

Gallup


And then there are the irrelevant polls, like this one from Gallup

Other than political fodder, of what significance is this poll?

Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September.

Uh, so what? 

Is Bush running for President?

When people enter the voting booth few if any are going to vote based on who they blame for the economic downturn.

Instead they’re much more likely to vote for the candidate they think can best turn it around. 

One will have 3+ year record of failure to this point.

The election isn’t about who is to blame.  It is about who the voters think can fix it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Gallup again points out for all the Republicans out there — It’s the economy, stupid!

I’m not sure how much more plainly it has to be said.  Here, let Gallup try:

More than 9 in 10 U.S. registered voters say the economy is extremely (45%) or very important (47%) to their vote in this year’s presidential election. Unemployment, the federal budget deficit, and the 2010 healthcare law also rank near the top of the list of nine issues tested in a Feb. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll. Voters rate social issues such as abortion and gay marriage as the least important.

If making the point graphically will help, here it is:

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The top 5 or 6 are your winners.  Any questions?

And in case that didn’t quite sink in and you still want to argue about it, try this one:

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Are we getting through yet?  Is it starting to get clearer?   Any talk about anything other than the top 5 or 6 topics, and preferably the top 3 or 4, is a distraction, waste of time and will see voters, especially those in the middle column critical to any electoral win, tune you out.

It is the economy, stupid.  That’s what the people are concerned with, what they’re most likely to base their vote on and what they expect you to be talking about.

Take a hint.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


There are polls and then there are polls

As I’ve said repeatedly over the years, candidate vs. candidate polls are virtually useless this far out from an election (9 months).

There’s little reason to pay attention to them.  So when you see these:

Obama 49.0%
Romney 43.3%

Obama 50.0%
Santorum 42.5%

Obama 53.0%
Gingrich 39.1%

Obama 48.6 %
Paul 40.4%

Remember this:

[I]n January 1980, the Gallup Poll showed:

Carter 63%
Reagan 32%

And, of course, there are plenty of other examples of those sorts of polls to be found if you look.

That said, there are polls that are indicators because they provide a history that lends itself to identifying whether or not an incumbent is actually in trouble or not.  The candidate v. candidate polls above really don’t.  We’re still in the early stages of nominating a candidate for one party and the focus has yet to really turn on the incumbent.  Numbers will change, I suspect fairly dramatically, when that happens.  And, to this point, I’d suggest that most of the country isn’t yet engaged in the presidential race.  That will happen 6 months from now when you can begin to pay attention to those polls pitting candidate against candidate.

But to those polls that matter, or at least point to historical trends, etc.  Here’s one:

It’s February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going.  Voters haven’t been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush’s presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country’s direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter’s first term.

What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released its 2012 campaign outlook, and it’s clear Obama’s sitting in the same position George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were in during the February before their election losses—voters don’t feel good about the country.

So when I hear Democratic strategists like James Carville saying things like this …

The only way the president will lose according to Carville is if some event takes place and changes things.  He maintained it wouldn’t be the result of the GOP nominee outshining Obama.

“Right now, things are starting to perk up a little bit,” he said. “Who knows? This is the — no Republican can beat Obama. Events can beat Obama. He’s not going to get beat by a Republican. Now events could come in and cause him to lose the election. But that’s it right now. That was not the case three months ago.”

… I laugh.  This is pure “whistling past the graveyard” and political spin.  Carville is engaged in psychological warfare here.  He wants everyone to believe the worm has turned and it is all sunlight and roses for his candidate.

If dissatisfaction can be called an “event”, then that’s the event which should put Obama exactly where he belongs in November  – planning for his presidential library in 2013.

Carville knows as well as anyone that at this point in the process, his choice for re-election has gone almost unscathed and his record mostly unscrutinized.   But that will change and it will change dramatically in a few months.  And about that time, the focus of the nation will begin to turn to national politics. 

The fact remains that the American public is not happy and when it is not happy it tends to not reelect its president.  That is the “event” this president faces.   And my guess is, when the GOP finally settles on its candidate, OMG (Obama Must Go) will be the driving “event” which determines the election.

Carville says “no Republican” can beat Obama?  I disagree.  In the end, any Republican can beat Obama.  Some by larger margins than others, certainly.  But that’s my prediction.  The Democrats really haven’t a clue about the level of dissatisfaction that exists with this president.

Even the president most demonized by the left had better numbers than Obama does.  At the January SOTU prior to his 2004 re-election run, George W. Bush enjoyed a 41% satisfaction rate (as did Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton).  As noted, Obama is at 22%, 3 points above the president almost universally identified as our worst modern president.

Let’s see if James Carville is still laughing after the “event” it November.  My guess would be “no”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Is the “enthusiasm gap” now on the side of Democrats?

A new PPP poll suggests that’s the case.   As I’ve mentioned any number of times, this is one of the polls I keep tabs on because the enthusiasm of the voting public for a particular candidate or party are key to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts and election wins.

PPP’s latest:

The paltry turnout in the Republican Presidential contests over the last week reflects what we’ve seen in our recent national polling: Democrats are now more excited about voting this fall than Republicans are, reversing the enthusiasm gap that plagued the party in 2010.

Our last national survey for Daily Kos found that 58% of Democrats were ‘very excited’ about voting this fall, compared to 54% of Republicans. Six months ago the figures were 48% of Democrats ‘very excited’ and Republicans at the same 54%. Generally you would expect voters to get more excited as the election gets nearer. That trend is occurring on the Democratic side, but not for the GOP.

And:

Going deeper inside the numbers:

-25% of conservatives are not at all excited to vote this fall, compared to only 16% of liberals.

-The percentage of Tea Party voters ‘very excited’ about voting in November has declined from 73% to 62% since late July.

-The single group of voters most enthused about turning this year are African Americans, 72% of whom say they’re ‘very excited’ to cast their ballots.

Given the GOP primary process, I have to say I’m not at all surprised by these numbers.  It’s has been bloody and divisive.  But, as PPP admits, this could change once a nominee is settled upon.  And, one should remember, President Obama has been mostly out of the pre-election limelight.  Once the focus of the GOP has settled on him, you may see enthusiasm on the right rise again.  But suffice it to say, the enthusiasm gap we see right now has more to do with the current crop of GOP candidates than ousting Barack Obama from the presidency.

Another poll, WND/Wenzel Poll, suggests that 20% of self-identified Republicans  are leaning toward Obama this year.  I’m not so sure about that.  And if true, does that indicate actual support for Obama or disgust with the GOP process (and candidates).  I’d guess the latter.  At this point, though, Intrade has Obama’s re-election chances at 60%.

Before the Obama campaign begins to celebrate, there’s something they need to consider this from Gallup:

This historical pattern suggests that Obama would need to see his job approval rating climb to 50% to be in a comfortable position for re-election. History shows that by March of the election year, all winning presidents in the modern era, including George W. Bush, had job approval ratings above 50%, and all losing presidents had job approval ratings below 50%. This suggests that where Obama stands by next month may be an important indicator of his ultimate re-election chances.

In fact, at this point in his presidency he has an approval rating below that of both George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom lost their re-election bids.

Independents aren’t mentioned among all this polling and it is their enthusiasm and turn out that will likely determine November’s outcome.  But still … if you can get your own base enthused, how are you going to convince indies to turn out for you?

That’s what I want to try to look into a little at CPAC.  We’ll see what I find.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Some politics

If you’ve noted a general tendency to ignore the run for the presidency and all the nonsense that includes here at QandO, you’re an astute observer.  It’s just silly right now, especially on the Republican side.  Cain is up, Cain is down.  Romney is the front runner, Romney is an also ran.  Paul is a side show, Paul surges.  Gingrich is out of it, Gingrich is the man.

When all the dust settles I’ll renew my interest.  However, all of what has been happening has had an effect.  Gallup reports:

Republicans’ enthusiasm about voting in the election for president next year has decreased, with 49% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now saying they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, down from 58% in September. This narrows the gap between them and Democrats, 44% of whom are more enthusiastic than usual, essentially the same as in September.

Of course the mitigating circumstances are outlined in my lede.  Without a single nominee and with the daily barrage of negativity, voters are turning off.  That doesn’t mean they won’t turn back on when that nominee is named (regardless of which of the bunch he is) as Gallup further notes:

The decrease in Republicans’ enthusiasm could reflect the intensive and bruising battle for the GOP nomination going on within the party, and the rapid rise and fall of various candidates in the esteem of rank-and-file Republicans nationwide. Once the Republican nominee is determined next year, Republicans’ voting enthusiasm may steady, but whether this is at a high, medium, or low level remains to be seen.

But this is a key component of predicting who will eventually win the White House so stay tuned to this particular poll on enthusiasm throughout the campaign.

Meanwhile, before Democrats start celebrating the narrowing of the gap (even temporarily), they may want to consider this next poll:

President Obama’s uphill battle to re-election is getting steeper.

A report released today by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.

“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”

Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.

Of course the flight of independents from Democrats has been noted for quite some time.   Fewer and fewer are identifying with or leaning toward the Democratic side.

“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”

So Jarding has a grasp of the obvious.  Good.  He then says:

“On paper, it looks like, ‘Well, it’s just going to be bad for Obama,’ but a part of me says, ‘Bad in what sense?’ He’s proven that he can get independent voters,” Jarding said.

He’s proven he can get independent votes with no resume and nothing but an emotionally appealing campaign based on absurd promises and bashing an unpopular president.

Now he’s the guy with the negative approval rating and a record he has to defend.   Whole different ballgame.  Whole different stadium.  It is more than a problem “on paper”.

“People are very, very disillusioned and the danger for Obama is when people are disillusioned  and when they are hurting they tend to throw the guy in power out,” Jarding said. “If Obama can’t turn out the vote that he did in 2008, he’s in trouble.”

He’s in trouble, which, for the most part, is a good thing.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Gallup: Perry surges to lead the GOP pack

A new Gallup poll has Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas, comfortably in the lead over other GOP candidates for president.

Shortly after announcing his official candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as rank-and-file Republicans’ current favorite for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17%.

29% to 17% is a significant lead.  Ron Paul comes in 3rd at 13% and Michelle Bachman at 10%.  The rest of the field is in single digits, all under 5%.  “No preference” is at 17% but that’s dropped a point from July’s poll and 8 points since last May’s poll.  So Republican voters are beginning to make up their minds, even at this early date.

Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight offers the following analysis of Perry’s new numbers:

First, with these shiny new numbers will come higher expectations for Mr. Perry, particularly during the three Republican debates that will be held in September.

Second, Mr. Romney should have a fair amount of breathing room since the Republican field is heavily tilted toward very conservative candidates like Mr. Perry. Were Rudolph W. Giuliani or Chris Christie to enter the race, Mr. Romney might face a bit more pressure, as he would if Jon M. Huntsman Jr. were somehow to surge. Still, the conservative part of the Republican field is far more crowded, and will be even more so if Sarah Palin runs.

Third, Republican elites have not given Mr. Perry a warm welcome. Of course, the same can be said for Mr. Romney; that Republicans have been casting about for a candidate like Paul Ryan or Mr. Christie reflects poorly on him as well as Mr. Perry. But as Barack Obama looks more and more vulnerable, Republicans may begin to prioritize electability over ideological purity.

Finally, although national polls at this stage have a fair amount of predictive power, they are hardly foolproof. At this point in 2007, Rudy Giuliani had about 29 percent of the Republican vote, about where Mr. Perry is now.

So, as Silver points out, Perry’s entrance means “higher expectations” from the voters – he’s got to start articulating a platform and begin to put forward a vision.  It’s not going to be enough to be the “anti-Obama”.  Everyone in the field is that.   While Perry’s numbers are strong, as Silver notes, so were Rudy Giuliani in 2007 and he faded like a knackered race horse.

While feelings are certainly high against Mr. Obama on the right, voters are looking for some positive idea of how the economic crisis that has befallen the country will be handled and remedied.  This is truly an “it’s the economy, stupid” election.   Any side issues that can be used as a wedge should be avoided as the voters that must be won aren’t at all concerned about them at this time.  But they may see such a focus as a negative.

Americans want to get the economic ball rolling again.  Rick Perry has a success story to tell.   He should concentrate on telling it and not allow himself to get sidetracked.  Meanwhile, you can expect the left to concentrate on everything but the economy.  

Focus and a positive message are the keys to a win in this election.  Any wandering off on tangents will make winning less likely.   The election, as far as I see it from this 15 month distance is the GOP’s to lose.  Unfortunately, they’re quite capable of doing exactly that.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama job approval poll numbers — the downward trend continues

The polls haven’t been kind to any politicians recently.  Congress has netted its worst approval rating ever.  And Barack Obama hasn’t been an exception as the latest Gallup poll on his job approval ratings show.  If he hasn’t figure out “it is the economy, stupid” someone better wake him up. The fact is there is a discernable trend, and that trend for him is down.  To the the numbers:

A new low of 26% of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, down 11 percentage points since Gallup last measured it in mid-May and well below his previous low of 35% in November 2010.

Obama earns similarly low approval for his handling of the federal budget deficit (24%) and creating jobs (29%).

Gallup goes on to point out, in relative terms, the President’s foreign policy ratings are fine.

The president fares relatively better on foreign policy matters, with 53% of Americans approving of his handling of terrorism and roughly 4 in 10 approving on foreign affairs and the situation in Afghanistan. Also, 41% approve of Obama on education.

However, the primary issue of the day sees his numbers in the dumps.  And, most importantly, the constituency he most needs, independents, are none to happy with his performance, or lack thereof.

 

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Nothing particularly surprising about the numbers from those identifying with the two major parties.  But that middle column spells big trouble for the incumbent if the primary issues in November of 2012 remains jobs, the economy and the deficit.  And at this point, there’s little to point to which says they won’t still be the top concerns for voters.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Fantasy and reality: Obama says “80% of Americans ‘sold’ on tax increase”

That’s the “out of thin air” statistic President Obama tossed out at a presser yesterday.

President Obama on Friday kept up the pressure on Republicans to agree to revenue increases in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, claiming 80 percent of the public supports Democrats’ demand for tax increases.

"The American people are sold," Obama said. "The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically."

Throughout the press conference, Obama blasted Republicans for ignoring what he said is the will of the American people by rejecting tax increases that would balance out spending cuts in a debt package.

This is typical Obama – when he doesn’t get his way, he claims things which aren’t true and shoots at the other side with things like the Congress is “dug in ideologically”.   In fact the Republicans who won Congress are merely doing what they said they’d do.  But the point is that Obama uses his bully pulpit to, well, bully instead of talking like a statesman and and pushing for a compromise solution.  There is no one more “dug in” ideologically than the man accusing others of this supposed “sin”.

Oh, and as for the stat?  According to Gallup, Mr. Obama if fudging it:

Americans’ preferences for deficit reduction clearly favor spending cuts to tax increases, but most Americans favor a mix of the two approaches. Twenty percent favor an approach that relies only on spending cuts and 4% favor an approach that uses tax increases alone.

The mix?

  • Only/Mostly with spending cuts: 50%
  • Only/Mostly with tax increases: 11%

And, there’s more:

Two months ago, The Hill conducted its own poll that showed opposition to tax hikes  at 45%, with only 13% favoring an even split between tax hikes and spending cuts to solve the deficit problem, with another 11% supporting a 2/1 split for spending cuts to tax hikes, and 15% for a 3/1 split.  Even under the most liberal (pun intended) definition of “balanced,” only 39% in that poll opted for the idea.

So there certainly isn’t any 80% clamoring for tax increases.   In fact almost half want to see a huge reliance on spending cuts with few wanting it done with tax increases.    As we’ve noted here before, once the spending cuts are made – actually made, done and done – then it may be time to talk about tax increases.   Maybe.  But until the spending cuts have actually, positively been made, the “need” for increased taxes aren’t at all going to be something the American people are “sold” on.

Meanwhile in another sector of fantasyland, we have Representative Sheila Jackson Lee with a completely different take on the matter:

"I do not understand what I think is the maligning and maliciousness [toward] this president,” said Jackson Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Why is he different? And in my community, that is the question that we raise. In the minority community that is question that is being raised. Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully? Why has the debt limit been raised 60 times? Why did the leader of the Senate continually talk about his job is to bring the president down to make sure he is unelected?”

Obviously Ms. Jackson Lee was in hibernation during the 8 years of the Bush administration when the word “incompetent” was almost used routinely with his name.   Of course the point Jackson Lee is making and something we’ve seen used time and again by the left when they are out of credible ammo is the race card.

"I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president — only this one, only this one — has received the kind of attacks and disagreement and inability to work, only this one," said Jackson Lee from the House floor.

"Read between the lines," she continued. "What is different about this president that should put him in a position that he should not receive the same kind of respectful treatment of when it is necessary to raise the debt limit in order to pay our bills, something required by both statute and the 14th amendment?"

Reading between the lines I only see cluelessness and the usual leftist tactics.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


War of choice getting in the way of Obama’s preferred message?

Interesting story from Glenn Thrush at POLITICO. And, of course, it is about pure politics.   It seems that Obama’s decision to go to war with Libya has caused a distraction from the most pressing domestic issue – the economy.  And just when some half-way decent news on unemployment is evident.

But in the view of his closest allies, Libya is drowning out his attempts to portray himself as an economic commander-in-chief fighting a series of new threats to the fragile U.S. recovery, especially the devastating and politically poisonous rise in gas prices.

The most recent example: On Friday, press secretary Jay Carney hoped to spend quality time with the White House press corps discussing an upbeat March employment report showing the economy added 216,000 jobs, outpacing analysts’ estimates.

But he was asked a grand total of two questions about the report. He fielded 16 about Libya and at one point had to sneak in a plug for the positive job numbers when a reporter asked a question about budget negotiations with Congress.

“Don’t tell me Libya is not a distraction,” said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Dealing with a military operation of this complexity, with this many moving parts, takes an enormous amount of the president’s time. We’re talking about hours and hours a day dealing with his national security staff. … It has an impact on everything else.”

Now obviously, it we have to go to war for a good reason – an actual imminent danger or threat to our national security – then you don’t worry about how it will effect the political agenda.  You do your duty as CiC.  In fact, a President can normally expect it to help him politically – to get a pretty good bump in the polls – as the nation comes together behind them.

But when the war is perceived as a “war of choice” or a “dumb war”, such a bump may not be forthcoming – as in the case of the war against Libya:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows 37% give the president good or excellent ratings on his handling of national security issues. Slightly more voters (40%) say the president is doing a poor job when it comes to national security.

Rasmussen isn’t the only polling service to have those numbers:

Just 39 percent of Americans think Obama has clear goals in Libya, while 50 percent think he doesn’t, according to poll results released Monday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Just 47 percent of Americans support the U.S. airstrikes, while 36 percent don’t and 17 percent don’t know, according to the Pew poll.

The Gallup Poll found similar results, the lowest level of initial support for a U.S. military action in at least three decades, and the first time in 10 interventions dating to the 1983 invasion of Grenada that a majority of Americans didn’t support the action at the onset.

Translation?   This is a political problem of Obama’s own making.  And on the eve of launching his re-election campaign to boot.  Not smart politics – not smart at all.  He’s literally “created” a story by his decision to wage a war of choice that will dominate the news and any other message he tries to spin.  What is clear is that despite the announced hand-over or pullback in US participation, the press continues to treat it like it should be treated – a war instigated and started by the US (and others) and continuing to have US participation whatever the level.

And we’re starting to hear about how overtaxed our coalition partners are now.  The UK for example,.  Says the head of the RAF:

With the RAF playing an important role in Libya, where bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft have all been involved over the past fortnight, he admitted the service was now stretched to the limit.

[Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen] Dalton, 57, said the RAF was planning to continue operations over Libya for at least six months. His assumption is that planes will be needed "for a number of months rather than a number of days or weeks".

Did you catch that last sentence?  Months instead of weeks.  So we can expect to see this remain in the news for some time and we can most likely expect to see more and more of the coalition members whining about their level of participation and attempting to get a higher level of US participation.  Already, this weekend, the US flew more sorties in the NFZ than previously planned.

So here you have a classic example of not only a dumb war, but dumb politics.  That’s usually what happens when you make snap-decisions without any planning while apparently completely underestimating the reaction of the American people.

Not that anyone on the left will admit that or anything.

~McQ


Obama Speech: Welcome to the role of world rent-a-cop

That’s essentially the role we’ve assumed according to President Obama.  We have a “duty” to respond to a potential humanitarian crisis like that which was developing in Libya.  Just not in Iran or Syria or, well, North Korea where the population is starving because of its government.

Let’s be clear about its application.  John Dickerson of Slate lays it out pretty well:

The statement that had sounded like a bold doctrine — that what guides a U.S. decision to intervene is not just threats to our safety, but threats to ‘our interests and values’ — came with an asterisk that led to some fine print at the bottom of the speech: Offer valid only if it’s a relatively easy military mission and we have a lot of allies and we only share a limited amount of the burden."

So the people of Iran, Syria and North Korea and other “potential humanitarian crisis” hot spots which may bring difficulties in other areas need not apply.

As for the claim that we’re stepping back and letting others run the show?  Pure artifice:

In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.

Lets look at a few facts about the matter:

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO’s budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors – Britain and France – combined. A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya. His boss, the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral, and the admiral’s boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.

So, as usual from this administration, we get words that just don’t really mean what you think they mean when you get into the details of the claim.  I know, you’re surprised.  NATO is and has been run by the US since its inception and this operation will be no different regardless of who they put in a figurehead role.

Obama also claimed the mission was “narrowly focused on saving lives”.   Pure nonsense to anyone who understand what has been deployed and what is being attacked:

Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gadhafi’s forces – and on the supply and communications links that support them – is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they’re achieving a benefit from the actions that we’re taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, said Monday.

The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters.

AC-130s and A-10s are not aircraft used in the maintenance of no-fly zones.   They’re killers.   They hunt and kill vehicles and people.  There’s some conjecture out there that their deployment requires boots on the ground to produce targets for them, but that’s not true.  Both can operate independently without JTAC support on targets of opportunity.

The point, however is the introduction of those type aircraft have nothing to do with a no-fly zone and certainly nothing to do with a “narrowly focused mission” of protecting civilians.  They’re there to kill the opposition – Gadhafi’s soldiers and overthrow the existing regime.

In essence, he’s saying “"If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter," and then supporting action to do just that hoping the Arab League won’t notice what is actually afoot.

There was a lot of hypocritical nonsense in the speech as well.  The biggest barf line for me was this:

"Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Except for Iraq of course, where even with the well-know atrocities including images of slaughter, mass graves, rape rooms and reports of the regime feeding its citizens through wood chippers, he definitely wanted to turn a blind eye.   And he has turned a blind eye on the atrocities in Iran perpetrated by that regime and is presently turning a blind eye on those in Syria. 

Perhaps the president ought to go back and read his own book:

In his pre-presidential book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Why indeed, Mr. President – why Libya and not Syria?  So we go back to John Dickerson’s addendum to the Obama Doctrine which in essences says “if its easy and I can score some political points, I might do it – otherwise you’re on your own”.  

So, perhaps understanding the hypocrisy of his position and how it must appear to the American people he said:

"It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs," he said. "But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right."

Again see the Dickerson corollary and substitute “what’s easy” for “what’s right”.

Finally, completely missing from the speech is the end state and exit strategy.  We have no idea.  This could go on for literally years.  To this date it is estimated to have cost the US $600 million.  And, as noted, we may claim to be in the backseat now, but the facts of the matter – the command structure of NATO – point to a entirely different reality.

This adventure – this war – despite his claims otherwise, is not one started because of a threat to any vital interests of the US.   It is again a war that the president claims required our “unique capabilities” to prosecute.

That. Is. Not. A. Legitimate. Reason. To. Go. To. War.

The more we let our allies depend on our “unique capabilities” the less they’ll develop their own.  Why do it when they can “volunteer” the US into doing it?

That’s why:

Just 47 percent of Americans support the U.S. airstrikes, while 36 percent don’t and 17 percent don’t know, according to the Pew poll.

The Gallup Poll found similar results, the lowest level of initial support for a U.S. military action in at least three decades, and the first time in 10 interventions dating to the 1983 invasion of Grenada that a majority of Americans didn’t support the action at the onset.

American’s aren’t fooled by this sort of nonsense anymore.  They understand what is or isn’t in their own vital interests and they further recognize this action doesn’t rise to that level.  Some, who support it, are calling it “pragmatic”.  Others claim it is an eminently “centrist” approach to such problems.  But some are also saying that every word in last night’s speech could have come from George Bush.

Bottom line: this is not a role that the US needs to play and certainly can’t afford to play.  The world is full of inequities, violence and death.  And despite his high sounding rhetoric last night, President Obama had turned a blind eye to plenty of it.  The only time US troops should be deployed and committed to war, such as is now happening in Libya, should be when the vital interests of the US are at stake – a point the candidate Obama made many times prior to assuming the presidency.

Libya doesn’t meet that standard and Obama’s speech last night didn’t make any convincing arguments that it did.  He once said, “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”  Interestingly his first war as Commander in Chief is a “dumb war.”

~McQ

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