In the latest round of polls, President Obama’s approval ratings are lowest on the two issues that once were strengths—foreign policy and immigration. In this week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 31 percent of Americans approved of his handling of immigration, an issue that he recently hoped to wield as a political weapon against the Republican Party. And the same survey showed his approval on international affairs at just 38 percent—the lowest point of his presidency and an 8-point drop from late July—even as he catered to the creeping isolationist sentiment in the country.
To the White House, these numbers must come as an unwelcome surprise, given how transparently the president played politics on these issues at the expense of sound policy.
On foreign policy, the president for far too long dismissed the threat ISIS posed in the face of glaring warnings from his own advisers. While leading Cabinet secretaries, from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Attorney General Eric Holder, described ISIS as an “imminent threat” and “more frightening than anything,” Obama’s public tone was much more measured, even recently suggesting that containment of the jihadist group was an option. To this day, he still insists on ruling out ground troops, even as he struggles to explain how we can defeat the terrorist group’s base in Syria without a greater American military presence. And many military experts are also puzzled why Obama is publicly telegraphing his strategy when it doesn’t serve America’s interests.