This Washington Post/ABC News poll is filled with bad news for congressional Democrats, but it also contains one piece of bad news for congressional Republicans. Look at Obama’s approval rating on handling the threat of terrorism: he gets a 56 percent approval rating, up from 53 percent on November 15, before the attempted attack on the Northwest Airlines flight 253. That’s a three-point increase in approval after a month’s worth of sustained Republican attacks on Obama charging would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in federal court and reading him his Miranda rights.
Politico reported yesterday that continuing to go after Obama on terrorism was a central aspect of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) political strategy for 2010. But look at the Post’s numbers for comparative handling of terrorism. Obama has the confidence of 47 percent of the public on the issue, while the Republican Party — for decades the party that enjoyed greater public trust on national security — only claims 42 percent. McConnell is a political genius, clearly.
So look at what the last month has shown. Substantively, it’s proven that treating terrorist suspects humanely in criminal courts can be leveraged to reap valuable intelligence, refuting a central aspect of the conservative security liturgy. And politically, it’s proven that the public is resistant to empty demagoguery from the party that mired the country in unnecessary wars at the expense of necessary ones.