Polls Show Big Majority Trust Obama - Fox News & Bill Kristol Say America Doesn't Trust Obama
By David Sirota
March 5, 2009 - 6:34pm ET
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On the same day a new Wall Street Journal poll reveals that Americans trust in President Obama and congressional Democrats on economic issues is skyrocketing (and in the same month Fox's own polls show the same), I debated Bill Kristol in a Fox News debate that the network's moderator prefaced by asking why Obama's economic actions were "forcing Americans to lose trust in the administration?" Watch it here - I kid you not (notice the graphic underneath asserting unequivocally that "Confidence In Obama's Economic Team [Is] Lost" and that "Disappointment Grows Over Obama's Economic Team").
As you'll see, Kristol has exactly one talking point: He says that the Dow Jones has lost 15 percent, or 1,355 points, since Obama took office, and he then effectively claims that Wall Street speculators' day-to-day gyrations mean the vast majority of Americans do not trust Obama, irrespective of polls showing exactly the opposite.
Of course, Obama has been in office for 44 days - so just for a comparison, let's remember that in the 44-day period between 8/28/08 and 10/11/08, the Dow Jones lost 27 percent, or 3,264 points. But Kristol doesn't mention that little detail, because Republicans were controlling economic policy then (and you'll notice Fox promptly ends the segment when I start bringing this up).
The point, of course, is to say that judging economic policy by 44-day periods in the market is absurd, and it is especially absurd to blame a 44-day-old presidency on market forces that three decades of conservative policies (that Kristol aggressively advocated) created. But that's the extent of the GOP's talking points today.
The good news is that despite Fox News insisting that Americans have lost faith in Obama's economic policies, the hard data that tracks Americans' feelings shows exactly the opposite - namely, that the public has a huge amount of confidence in what Obama and congressional Democrats are doing.
Additionally, the same data shows that the public has overwhelmingly rejected Kristol's propaganda. As MSNBC notes, the poll shows that "84% say Obama inherited this economy, and two-thirds of those people think he has at least a year before he's responsible for it." Put another way, the vast majority of Americans see right through Bill Kristol and his smarmy smirk.
What I found particularly hilarious about this debate is Kristol and Fox News' attempt to equate the day-to-day gyrations of the market - ie. the day-to-day equivocations of the Wall Street speculator class - with broad public opinion in the country at large. This is a rhetorical sleight of hand we can call "Market Populism" - ie. equating the opinions of the elite speculator class in New York and D.C. with the country at large. We saw this before with Rick Santelli. And now, on the same day another poll shows the country's trust in Obama is surging, we we see it with Fox, Kristol and other right-wingers like New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin whose column today says - I'm not kidding - "President Obama Suffers A Trust Deficit."* Indeed, it seems to be an emerging right-wing tactic that (not surprisingly) completely ignores - even scoffs at - contrary data.
As I said in the debate (to the great surprise of Kristol, who is used to being treated with reverence), it's not surprising to hear such Market Populism from Kristol - the man spends his time in country club circles in D.C. surrounded by his fellow conservative trust fund babies. To them, Market Populism probably seems like authentic grassroots populism, because they rarely leave their own circle. But you don't have to look at reams of polling data to know that's absurd - all you have to do is leave the Beltway and/or Manhattan to know that the country is far more angry at Wall Street than it is reflective of its opinion.
This is not to say that I think it's a good thing the market is dropping - not at all. But like most Americans, I believe that it is going to take a lot of major reforms to get the market working again, that during that period of reform it's going to be unfortunately turbulent on the stock exchange - and that that's no fault of President Obama's.
Likewise, this is not to say that I think Obama's economic team is perfect - I don't think that at all (as regular readers of my work know). hey should be moving far more boldly towards the progressive center of the country - not farther away from it as right-wingers like Kristol want. But even that being said, the idea that their behavior is creating some sort of crisis of trust in the Obama administration is a wholly manufactured storyline - a fairy tale created by pathological liars like Kristol for an extreme hard-core base of the Republican Party. I'm just glad Fox News gave me the chance to give its viewers a small dose of actual facts - lord knows, they can be rare on that network when Kristol's swallowing up its airwaves.
* Goodwin's column appeared on the very same day and in the very same newspaper that reported Obama's popularity is skyrocketing and "By a more than two to one margin Americans trust Democrats over the GOP to pull the country out of the recession."
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