CNN just released its latest poll, showing climbing support for Obama. Ed Morrissey is suspicious, since it’s hard to reconcile the low poll numbers on specifics (economy, national security, etc.) with the high numbers for Obama himself. Suspicions, though, are all Ed’s got, because CNN has withheld demographic data. This matters a lot because, lately, polls have been oversampling self-identified Democrats, which is going to skew a given poll’s outcome.
I’m actually less surprised than Ed is. I think it’s entirely possible for the public to hold simultaneously two entirely conflicting ideas. In this case, those incompatible ideas are “(1) I dislike Obama’s policies and his effectiveness and (2) I think he’s a good president.” The answer lies in the media.
The facts on the ground say that Obama is either a worse president than Bush (terrible economy; overt hostility to Israel, a country that Americans like; creator of the much-disliked ObamaCare; etc.) or or the same president as Bush (war, war, war). As to that last — the war, war, war bit — Obama has even overtaken Bush, as he’s presiding over three wars, not just two, one of which happens to be illegal for anyone believing there’s virtue to obliging a president to comply with little ol’ American laws, such as the War Powers Act.
So why do people like Obama? Because the media tells them to. The media tells them he’s handsome, charming, brilliant and efficient. The same media told people Bush was ugly, stupid, and evil. The media drum beat, whether extolling Obama or excoriating Bush has been relentless.
Here’s a teeny example: Obama horribly botched his toast to Queen Elizabeth. Had Bush done that, it would have become a running joke on Jay Leno, not just for days, but for years. (Leno is still coming back to “Bush is dumb” jokes.) As it is, Leno hasn’t touched it or, if he did, he did so with such delicacy I missed it entirely. A public that doesn’t pay much attention to details, primarily because those details are being withheld, isn’t having drummed into it the fact that Obama is inept.
Our minds are complicated things. We all know that people can cling to biases even as they acknowledge the facts that put the lie to their own prejudices. One can easily imagine someone saying “I know the economy sucks and that I don’t like Obama’s policies but, I don’t know why, I still like the guy.” Well, I do know why: it’s because the guy is being propped up, while the other guy (that would be Bush) was the subject of unrelenting, vicious, overt and covert attacks for eight solid years.