In a survey conducted in early June, Rasmussen found that Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on six out of eleven top issues.
It’s no surprise that Republicans lead on national security: after 9/11, when Bush implemented policies to fight terrorism, Republicans’ trust ratings skyrocketed, because Americans saw the problem at hand and liked the way Republicans were dealing with it. Years later, Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates boasted how much more effective they would be on national security—a fraud they were able to perpetrate because Bush had kept us safe since 9/11 and the threat of attack seemed remote. Even if Americans actually came to believe that the way to defeat terrorists is to love them, Obama soon co-opted Bush’s entire war policy, thus validating Republicans’ arguments for the past eight years.
So we know national security isn’t Democrats’ strong suit. Perhaps to distract from their unpopular war agenda, Obama and the newly engorged Democratic Congressional majorities started talking about “a new era of transparency.” After 384 Obama appointees turned out to be tax cheats, liars, campaign underwriters, and lobbyists, Republicans now lead on government ethics, the second-most important issue to voters.
When ethics didn’t prove to be Democrats’ trump card, Obama started traveling around the country handing out stimulus goodies and talking about projects and jobs funded by the Recovery Act. Then ABC’s Jake Tapper started uncovering all of Obama’s lies about the nonexistent effects of stimulus spending, and economists deconstructed the lunacy of his “saved or created” jobs argument. Now a plurality of Americans wants the unspent portion of the stimulus recalled.
In a desperate gambit, Obama took over GM and strong-armed Chrysler’s secured creditors into lousy bankruptcy terms. The Fed spent $1.2 trillion to lower mortgage rates, which increased, and pledged so much spending that long-term interest rates are spiking.
So now—surprise!—the public trusts Republicans more on the economy, the top-rated issue. As Rasmussen reports, “Voters not affiliated with either party now trust the GOP more to handle economic issues by a two-to-one margin.” So the economy doesn’t seem to be Democrats’ ace in the hole, either.
In a sleight of hand, Obama then renewed his push for climate change legislation and health care reform—gargantuan spending boondoggles that would somehow miraculously save our economy, too! Then Democrats rolled out their plans, and businesses that would actually be affected by the legislation ran screaming.
In Rasmussen’s report, Democrats get their “highest” rating for health care (47%)—but this was measured before we heard actual health care proposals from Democrats, before the AMA and the Chamber of Commerce condemned Democrats’ government-sponsored plan. Democrats’ lead on the issue has shrunk 8 points just since last month.
The other issues where Democrats do “well” are Social Security (43%), education (44%), and abortion (41%)—all issues no one is making major legislative proposals about right now.
Democrats’ confidence ratings are like a shell game: whichever issues the nation is dealing with are correctly seen by Americans as more capably handled by Republicans, but Democrats are assumed to be wonderful—just wonderful!—on all the other concerns we don’t happen to be tackling at the moment. As soon as Democrats get their hands on something and we see what they actually want to do to us, trust in their ability plummets, and they move on to another, more pressing priority.
The further the nation is from the reality of an issue, the more likely Democrats are to be trusted; the closer it gets to that reality, the more likely Republicans are to be trusted.
“Ending the war in Iraq” sounds reasonable—until you read the fine print and realize Democrats don’t care whether we win first. “Renewing relations with the Muslim world” sounds kindhearted—until the president makes nominal demands to Muslim leaders and they start blowing things up again.
“Introducing ethical standards” sounds noble—until Obama nominates actual human beings to fill posts and we get a whiff of their backgrounds. “Being the first post-racial president” sounds refreshing—until Obama nominates for the Supreme Court a former Puerto Rican separatist who thinks “inherent physiological differences” force judges to decide the way they do.
“Stimulating the economy” sounds invigorating—until it is translated into a 1,588-page doorstop that no one has time to read. “Moving quickly to prevent an economic crisis” sounds prescient—until you find out that four months later only 5% of stimulus money has been spent and the administration is lying about funded projects.
“Cutting taxes on 95% of Americans” sounds generous—until you realize the things Obama wants can’t be paid for without raising taxes on current or future generations. “Saved or created 150,000 jobs” sounds impressive—until the administration admits this figure is based on theory and not facts.
“Saving the planet” sounds conscientious—until you find out that it involves so many devious machinations and new ways to burden Americans that the Senate had to hire a speed-reader to recite the bill. “Health care reform” sounds bighearted—until you hear that it will cost $1 trillion and that Democrats want a 25% national sales tax to pay for it.
You can usually tell when public figures accused of crimes are guilty—their supporters invariably take several steps back and make broad, abstract statements: “She’s an excellent teacher whom no one has ever spoken ill of!” (But did she commit statutory rape with a student or not?) “He has always worked to promote racial justice in his borough!” (But did he accept kickbacks for minority contracts or not?) “He has a lovely wife starring in ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’” (But—oh, never mind.)
Similarly, for strategic reasons Democrats like to keep things intangible, “big-picture,” “forward-looking,” “high-minded”—not concrete, detailed, present-looking, practical.
Every time one of their shells is revealed to contain nothing underneath, Democrats lose the public’s trust on that issue, but the trust always seems to pop up again elsewhere. Instead of playing Whac-a-Mole with Democrats’ confidence ratings, Republicans should reveal their entire game as the swindle it is.