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Just finished reading an item by Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight headlined: Republicans Have Regained the Foreign Policy Edge. The main content of the article is that currently 46% of Americans trust Republicans on foreign policy compared to 35% for Democrats. The numbers have been trending in the Republicans' direction since mid-2011. Democrats had been on top up to that time since 2005. Prior to then Republicans had a long period of dominance.

I don't doubt that the data support the conclusions presented. But there's something about the article that kind of grates on me that I'd like to discuss.

Clearly, I find the results unpleasant. But here on the left blogs, facing unpleasant news could almost be said to be our stock in trade. And though we may deplore the reality reported, our reaction is rarely "shoot the messenger".

What kind of galls me is a the last half-sentence:

... the door is open for the GOP’s ideas on foreign policy.
My reaction is: What ideas?

I mean what foreign-policy ideas has the GOP presented over the last twenty years beyond:

  • arrogance and superiority towards our allies;
  • disregard for treaties and international law;
  • use of military force without forethought of consequences;
  • and a general bellicosity towards those who annoy us?

Ideas which when they were implemented in the previous administration did so much to create many of the international crises that are causing problems now.

And the proof of this is the parade of characters preening under the media spotlight now.

I know that FiveThirtyEight prides itself on being non-partisan. And I can respect that when done conscientiously. But there's a kind of faux-objectivity that pretends to find substance where there is none, which acts as a kind of poison in our public policy debates.

I don't doubt that part of the reason Republicans have so much cred with the American public on foreign policy is because people who have implemented so much ruinous policy are given such an uncritical welcome in our public forums.

Am I overreacting?

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Comment Preferences

  •  See also Paul Krugman's recent blog post (11+ / 0-)

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 09:00:20 PM PDT

  •  if you represented less than 1% of the population (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned, MKSinSA

    but commanded a plurality in opinion polls, you would be considered a master strategist. Time to deconstruct how they do it. One thing is that the Democratic Party and anyone defending national interests are strategically incompetent. A collapse from the days of FDR who won WWII, 4 terms as president and the New Deal wars.

    •  Too often the Democrats have offered ... (4+ / 0-)
      An echo not a choice
      And then Democrats got so badly burned on Vietnam that they became chary of military adventure.

      And when Bush-père did so well with the Gulf War, they really didn't know what to do.

      I think the Iraq War was obviously a dangerous hare-brained scheme before it began. But the Democrats in Congress pretty much fell in line behind it, which left them nowhere when the wheels started coming off.

      "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

      by Demi Moaned on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 09:24:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bush-père did so well with the Gulf War? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sun dog

        But Bush-père was a one term president.

        I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

        by Just Bob on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:02:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  WHAT?!? (0+ / 0-)
        And when Bush-père did so well with the Gulf War, they really didn't know what to do.
        I'm sorry, but that's offensive to read here.  Bush did well with the Gulf War in the same way the Republicans are "doing well" with the public now on foreign policy.  The press strokes them and people don't care about facts.  Old Bush being remembered in a favorable light on that disaster is a part of the GOP boondoggle on foreign policy, not a counter-point.  

        I wish people would remember the arrogant meddling and bungling in the Middle East that led to our little dog Saddam getting out of line.  And the fact that it was our occupation of "Holy Lands" after the Gulf War that gave nuts like Bin Laden the propaganda tools to build his crazy cult suicide army and attack us on 9-11.  Which gave Bush's moron son the propaganda tools to blinker the nation into "finishing daddy's business" in Iraq.  It's all part of the same GOP insanity.  

        When truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

        by Sun dog on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:14:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You are overreacting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    Saying that the door is open for Republicans to present ideas on foreign policy in no way implies that the Republicans will present good ideas.

    Personally, I welcome Republicans trying to win elections on foreign policy.

    •  Isn't it more like the public has seen what they (3+ / 0-)

      consider foreign policy questionable decisions by Obama?

      Many have come tumbling down in recent months.

      Berghdal trade for 5 terrorists
      ISIS swarming through Iraq
      Putin taking over Crimea

      You know where the buck stops. These have occurred under the Obama admin, so the negativity spreads to all Dems in federal government.

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 09:34:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The door (to the media board room) is always open (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demi Moaned

      for the gop.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:22:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's true, and pretty simple, (4+ / 0-)

    Studies show that the more upset and concerned an average American is about a foreign event, the less they know about the background, issues, complexity or where to find the area on a map,

    Given that, "bomb 'em" resonates better than any complex policy.

    So, the GOP Foreign Affairs platform trumps the Dems.

  •  It's not the numbers, it's the passion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, majcmb1, Demi Moaned

    Listen, foreign policy is simply NOT an issue for today's electorate.  

    For a time when the all-important swing voter was a white male without a college degree AND there was a presence of an enemy (Russia, Japan, Osama) who could at least APPEAR to be a threat, then, yeah, foreign policy may have played a part in general elections.

    Obama got Osama and that's all she wrote.  Repubs has a slight edge, but it is on an issue that simply doesn't resonate and is not a game changer.

    This is the least of my worries.  

  •  If you view the '538' article, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, camlbacker, Stude Dude, shaso

    its survey and its methodology as valid, America just failed its I.Q. test.

    Why am I not surprised?

    How 'bout a follow-up survey testing for masochism?

  •  pathetic (5+ / 0-)

    and I mean the Americans who were polled.

    Anyone who's still listening to the Republicans on foreign policy, particularly on Iraq, is a frigging idiot.

  •  I don't think you're overreacting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sun dog, Demi Moaned

    It's frustrating that the neocons still get prime air time, as though they have ANYTHING to say that a sane person wants to hear.  And that includes Republicans (assuming there are some sane ones) - they may like Cheney's potshots at Obama but they're also still trying to dig themselves out of the hole that Cheney left the GOP in.

    The rest of the GOP, aside from being against whatever Obama is for, dutifully falls in line behind "Bomb-'em-all" McCain.  He may love war but Americans are damned tired of it.

    It's bad enough when the right-wing media promotes these wackos as experts.  But what's really galling is when supposedly non-partisan groups - like the site you cite - and supposedly "liberal" media - like Chris Matthews - treat it like it's even up for debate.  When they should be saying "WTF??? Are you insane??? America will be paying the price for their disastrous foreign policy binge for generations, their fucking tab is closed."

    So no, I don't think you're overreacting.

    I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. - Oscar Wilde

    by penelope pnortney on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 01:04:18 AM PDT

  •  Which is kind of ironic, seeing as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    the Democrats have made a living out of parroting Republican foreign policy.

    But then, Americans are good at distinguishing the originals from the cheap imitations.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 05:54:57 AM PDT

  •  It's just insane (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    Being wrong all the time should matter.  And this should frighten thinking people that the nation is obtuse to this degree.  We see the results of this stupidity in blood, debt and loss of national prestige.  And it's very hard to break through because facts and logic don't seem to count much in the minds of so many people.  

    When truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

    by Sun dog on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:07:50 AM PDT

  •  With the Benghazi suspect captured and the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    measured hand in dealing with the Iraq situation by Pres. Obama, plus the fact that the gop's foreign policy mouthpiece (McCain) has proven himself to be a senile idiot with no ideas aside from going ape-shit, the Dems will regain the lead on foreign policy shortly.

    The Dems have to work overtime, though, to overcome the assistance the media, including msnbc, (Mathews, Mitchell, Todd, Joe, ) has been giving the gop in obfuscation and strawman framing. They should really go on the attack, right now, and literally lash out at McPoop and Lindzerella with a generous dose of reality.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:21:03 AM PDT

  •  This is Obama's fault. (0+ / 0-)

    Let me just come out and say it.  His fecklessness in Syria, and his general indecision in Iran, Iraq and the Ukraine have hurt people's faith in his judgment.  His capture of OBL is pretty much forgotten (by the popular consciousness) at this point.

    ...that being said, it's unlikely to hurt Democrats in 2016.  Foreign Policy is rarely an issue people swing their vote over, and HRC is well positioned as Obama's foil.  If a challenger comes from the Left (Say, Elizabeth Warren) she's largely free of foreign policy baggage.

    •  I don't know wtf you are talking about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demi Moaned

      Fecklessness in Syria? - He is keeping us out of war.  He can't fix that mess.

      Indecision on Iran - we've had the biggest breakthroughs on the diplomatic front on the nuclear issue that we've had.

      Ukraine-  He has effectively imposed enough sanctions to buy time to push Putin to retrench without having to engage military support.

      Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

      by khyber900 on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 08:37:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is a load of b.s. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    The numbers are down for Democrats because the media and their neocon friends have dominated the airwaves. They've just filled the slow news cycles with more negative information and so the impression is negative. When you drill down on each of the issues, Americans agree overwhelmingly with the positions that President Obama has taken - get out of the middle east, use diplomacy, ukraine and syria are not worth fighting over, deal with climate change.

    No Republican is going to run for a Senate or House seat advocating an aggressive FP or military posture.  None.  Why? Because Republican neocons were officially discredited in 2006 and 2008.  

    This isn't 1979 when Reagan made a case for a more aggressive re-think of foreign policy, or even 2000 when Bush/Cheney invented a crisis of the 'hollowing out' of the military to gain an upper hand over Gore.  

    There is not one GOP candidate who is going to argue on a national stage for a larger military presence in foreign lands.  All they will do is to complain. Hillary Clinton will have a great argument on FP and she has the image of toughness that the Republicans won't be able to handle.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 08:34:49 AM PDT

  •  Was that poll taken by aliens from another planet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    LOL!!!! I mean seriously the party that got 4,000 soldiers killed in a lying ass war they got us in.They must have polled more republicans in that stupid poll

  •  that makes zero sense to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned

    but that's often the case with American opinions. the Republicans have been such incredible failures on foreign policy ... they got us into Iraq. they want us to get back into Iraq now. they failed to get Bin Laden ... I mean hell in 2011 ... that's when Obama got Bin Laden - how could that have been when the tide turned against Democrats? it just makes no sense.

    as a whole the country seems to be more non-interventionist than ever ... with the Iraq debate that seems to play into Obama's hands vs the words of Bush admin people/McCain ...

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