Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Tale of Two Polls

No, this post is not about some inappropriate ethnic joke.  It is about two opinion polls which show unique insight into where America is headed and why we should be concerned.

A Rassmusen Daily Tracking poll published this morning showed President Obama's approval/disapproval rating heading south.  Slightly over 52% of likely voters polled disapproved of Obama's job performance (41 % "Strongly Disapproved") and the numbers have been heading on a downward trend since early spring.  In my opinion, this is no great mystery.

Liberal websites will taut fifty-some-odd "achievements" supposedly accomplished by President Obama over the past five plus years. If you read them closely you will find that most of them are of dubious value, some are not the result of Obama's actions or leadership, and the rest are huge boondoggles which have weakened our economy, our military superiority and our standing in the international community.  Did Obama happen to be in the White House when a valiant Seal Team Six unit took out Osama bin Laden? Yes, very fortunate for him that culmination of a ten year effort happened on his watch.  Did Obama happen to have a pen in his hand when the Dodd-Frank legislation hit his desk designed to reform the banking industry and regulate Wall Street.  Yup, another fortunate circumstance for a president who has real difficulty making a decision on just about any issue.  Of course, when regulation goes up, the economy goes down.  Dodd-Frank has made it much more difficult if not impossible for even highly qualified applicants to secure affordable mortgage lending, but as housing took a nose-dive and construction jobs disappeared virtually overnight I suppose you could make the argument that the good times were just too good to be true.  Then we come to Obamacare.  With a conservative price tag of over $ 4 trillion dollars, we now have a national health care system.  I hope everyone feels better already.  The proof of how wise a decision this was will not be known for several years but early struggles might be a dark portent of things to come. Way to go, Barrack.

In the history of our nation no president comes to mind who was less qualified to be America's chief executive and yet, magically, he was not only elected but voted a second term.  His leadership has been non-existent in foreign affairs from the start and the number of scandals has rivaled some of the worst previous administrations; Benghazi, Solyndra, IRS, illegal cell phone monitoring and aggressive leak investigations, just to name a few.  More importantly, Obama's lack of action in Syria and total, and many military advisers think premature, troop withdrawal from Iraq precipitated the rapid rise of ISIS and yet another radical Islamic threat to our nation's security, the terrifying result of which, and cost to defend, is yet to be seen. 

The ISIS threat notwithstanding, let us not forget that under the Obama Administration, our national debt (and the corresponding burden to be born by our children and grandchildren) has increased by over $ 7 trillion dollars to a record total of $ 17.8 trillion dollars, threatening the credit worthiness of the United States.  Is it any wonder even "yellow-dog Democrats", not to mention what is often referred to as "the liberal press", are beginning to lose faith in our president.  Which brings me to the next point.

In a recent poll, published on June 14, 2014, Gallup once again asked Americans about their confidence in the three major news sources servicing our population.  Not surprisingly, confidence and trust were at or near record lows.  A scant 22 % of respondents said they trusted what they read in the newspapers.  Even less, 19 % said they trusted what they read or heard on the Internet and a record low 18 % of those polled said they trusted the network television news, CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC.  These four primary sources of news ranked in the bottom third of seventeen U.S. institutions measured in the poll.

Why, you might ask, has the American public lost confidence in our nation's media?  My opinion is it has everything to do with the increasing blur between factual news reporting and editorial comment.  When I wore a younger man's clothes, Walter Cronkite brought me my news.  Straight forward, unadulterated, the "who, what, where, when and why" of news reporting.  Mr. Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, John Cameron Swazye and Edward R. Morrow were always welcome in our living room because we trusted them to give us the facts and the truth.  When editorial opinion was offered it was clearly identified.  By the time we got to Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, that line between news and editorial started to become blurred.  And now, with Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace, Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer, there is no line.

Newspapers have always been biased.  They are owned and operated by either Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, and the editorial slant was crystal clear.  However, back in the day, the news sections were a bit more clean and the bias was saved for the editorial pages.  Today, there is no pretense at reporting the unbiased news. The facts and the editorial bias are intertwined so as to be indistinguishable. The Internet, well, there is absolutely no accountability.  It is a different world and people need to pay more attention, do more research, and read and listen to a broader variety of media information sources so they can draw more accurate conclusions and make better decisions.  And that includes, hopefully, the next time they step into the voting booth.

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