Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bush's approval rating soars

I know, the title sounds crazy. However, I'm not referring to the president's sinking poll numbers here at home. In Africa, Bush's approval rating is well over 80%. It may seem surprising at first, but that area of the world, a place that has seen countless years of disease, starvation, and war, generally has a positive view of the United States.

On Tuesday, President Bush visited Rwanda and met with President Paul Kagame, the man who led the resistance against the brutal Hutu militias that ended up slaughtering almost a million innocent people in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. During the visit, he toured the genocide memorial, and pledged to keep up the pressure on the Sudanese regime for its atrocities in Darfur. The President's other contributions to Africa include spending nearly 15 billion dollars to combat HIV/AIDS across the continent, with similar actions being taken to fight malaria. He has also granted billions of dollars in African debt relief and has offered much support in Africa's quest to move forward into the 21st century. In the end, the lives of many Africans have improved because of the administration's policies.

Odds are though, this isn't the big story out there you'll be hearing on the news. No, the media and President's growing number of critics would rather focus on an economic recession and his falling poll numbers here in the US, along with the obsession over all things negative in Iraq. At the same time, the two buffoons better known as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are given a pass as the promises they made during the '06 elections come up empty.

Maybe the president is not the aweful man he is all too often villified as.

47 comments:

Anti-Globalism said...

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Osama would certainly be a better president than Bush.

C.H. said...

The only problem with Osama is that he doesn't have much experience as a head of state. Sure, his experience as a leader of Al-Qaeda and other salafist groups that preach combat and "resistance" certainly makes him an interesting candidate, but the American people are looking for a true leader. With his 24 years of experience as a head of state, Saddam Hussein would have been the right choice to bring the "change" Americans are hungry for. Unfortunately, since he is no longer with us, I move to nominate Fidel Castro. Now that he's stepped down as leader of Cuba, maybe he'd be up to the job of President of the United States (Osama can take the VP job if he wants it). After all, who can top 49 years of experience as president?

Anonymous said...

C.H. As I pointed out on the Angry Arab, your claim that the approval ratings are for Bush is incorrect. The numbers are favorability ratings for the U.S. Also, only 3 of the surveyed countries in Africa gave favorability ratings of greater than 80%. There are always good reasons to go back to the original source instead of relying on things like editorials.

Obviously you've had a very hostile reception at the Angry Arab blog. Most of this is due to your views, which you shouldn't be expected to change (of course you should constantly challenge your assumptions and be willing to change). However, in my opinion you do need to dump some lingo that I think damages your credibility. Just look for any phrases that you would find in a "popular" conservative source (e.g. Rush Limbaugh) but not in a mainstream source (a respected print publication) and I think you'll see what I'm getting at. It is exactly like someone who says "imperialist" every other word and it tends to label someone as an inflexible ideologue.

Don't get scared off--there are many bizarre people on both sides. Keep in mind that many of these people grew up in these areas, many at war, and there are reasons why they are so angry. As an extreme example "Barabie" calls everyone a "Jewish maggot". I believe she has also lost a number of relatives in Palestine. I recall that she had a Jewish girlfriend in her past and I assume that created some additional hard feelings.

And of course there are just as many crazy people on the other side. There seem to be many more "Swedens" and "Kaheins" than there are "vzas". I suspect many moderate people are not vocal and I also suspect that many moderate Jews feel particularly uncomfortable on the blog. They get attacked relentlessly from both sides.

In principle one should be able to disagree with anyone no matter what their views are. In practice this is rare. I've seen "Sweden" for example a number of times jump up and down with glee about how many Iraqis have died in Iraq as "retaliation" for 9/11. Nobody on his own "side" argues with him. On the A.A. you will rarely find anyone who challenges you who is not out for blood. It's unfortunate.

I hope you're planning to write an article about your experiences and observations of the A.A. at some point. That could be very funny--and more than a little bit disturbing.

Anonymous said...

c.h.

I thought you might also find this amusing. I was talking politics yesterday with my cousin, who is a hardcore Republican visiting from Texas. We were talking about the candidates--she really doesn't like Huckabee and thinks McCain is crazy (apparently she has heard this from several close sources). She thinks Huckabee will win the primary in Texas. She says she will vote for McCain in November, although she is thinking of sitting out the election all together.

Then Ron Paul came up. She used to be very active in Republican politics when she lived in Ron Paul's district. She absolutely detests the man and can't even stand to hear the mention of his name.

Her views on Obama are strange, especially since she has a doctorate in education. She thinks he's a Muslim. When I pointed out to her that he's not, she said well those 2 years of schooling must have affected him at a vulnerable age. She insists there's no doubt he has Muslim tendencies. I decided it wasn't even worth trying to argue.

Anonymous said...

C.H.

Here's the full Pew poll:

http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=256

If you have problems with the URL, search:

"Global Unease With Major World Powers"

Anonymous said...

Yet another post:

In the Pew article, click the link for the full 133 page report. It's full of interesting data about world opinions. One thing surprising--favorability ratings in Africa for China are about the same as for the U.S. Moreover, people in all countries polled except S. Africa thought that China's influence is more positive (double digits) than America's. See p. 49.

C.H. said...

I am aware of the fact that the question asked to the people of Africa was "do you view America favorably?". Perhaps I could have worded it better. Never the less, the facts I provided about Bush's heroic efforts in Africa are true...and the flag-waving supporters chanting praise in the streets as the president visited were also true. Given the current political situation here at home, I'd say that's pretty amazing, wouldn't you say so?

You made some good points. Especially about the Angry Arab (to be honest, I did not even know barabie was a girl). When I comment on that site, I have no intention of being aggressive or mean-spirited, as a growing number of other commentators are. I just want to provide an alternative viewpoint, and show people that America (and yes, our president) are not the aweful people they are made out to be. To be honest, I disagree with many things Bush says, but I've always supported his foriegn policy. Just the same, the most important point I have tried to make in this post is that the world has an obligation to help people who are suffering, wherever they may be. Bush's meeting with Kagame was the main highlight, and if people can go away understanding that we must continue to work together to solve these problems, then I have succeeding by writing this post.

C.H. said...

Also, it's obvious that the NY Sun editorial may favor Bush, but just the same, a comment that appeared in the A.A. provided a story about Obama's favorability ratings in Africa...and they were high, like Bush's. Obviously, that is to be expected, seeing as Obama's father was African.

When I write about the favorability ratings of the president or the country in far away lands, I am simply making the point that unity and understanding is the best solution to solving the problems around the world. In the end, I think you and I can agree on that, after reading your posts. You seem like a moderate, free-thinking individual, and that is a very good thing.

In the end, I don't care about Bush. I don't care about his legacy, and I don't care how other people view him. However, if his policies include taking a stand against genocide and helping suffering people, than let his name be praised.

Andy said...

Okay, so the survey may not be asking the direct question "do you approve of President Bush's policies", but the majority of responders in sub-saharan Africa claimed to have a positive view of the USA. In a couple countries, the approval rating for the USA was almost 90%, with others in the 70's and 80's. Personally, I find that impressive. This is only an assumption, but if you put the facts that many Africans have a positive view of the US and the crowds of cheering supporters in the capitals of Tanzania, Ghana, and Benin together, its safe to say it definetely reflects positively on president Bush. Whether you like him or not, its hard to dispute.

Also, I agree with C.H...you can argue against the war in Iraq and condemn the president here at home, but his policies in Africa are without a doubt having a very positive impact on the world.

C.H. said...

Well said Andy...that's a good point, I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is some correlation between Bush's popularity and U.S. favorability ratings--I'm sure he would fare much worse in Turkey (9% favorability), Palestinian territories (13%), Pakistan (15%), Morocco (15%), etc. However, the degree of correlation is unclear. Keep in mind that in spite of Bush's low popularity, 80% of Americans have a favorable opinion of their own country. I suspect this doesn't vary dramatically depending on who the President is.

The poll results were released several months after Obama announced his candidacy; it's certainly possible that people in Kenya at least were impressed that someone of their heritage is a viable candidate in a country where whites have historically held power.

Also in the survey: the countries are broken down as to their approval of U.S. movies and TV (only 4% of Pakistanis approve), science and technology, and whether it's good that American ideas and customs are spreading there (p. 6). All of these have little to do with the President and they certainly can go well beyond the effects of government policy. Of course the countries that rank the U.S. high in these areas also tend to rank the U.S. high overall. Countries that dislike the U.S. often think that American movies and ideas corrupt the youth and so on.

Andy, I notice you list Tanzania as a place where there were cheering crowds. Tanzania gave the U.S. a 46% positive rating (39% negative). Maybe cheering crowds for Bush don't strongly correlate with overall U.S. favorability.

C.H. said...

So the poll results vary, but even you seem to agree it is impressive that many in Sub-Saharan Africa approve of the United States, as opposed to Europe, or as you pointed out, various Middle Eastern countries. Odds are, many of the respondants in Morocco and Turkey disapprove of the president because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just the same, many in Sub-Saharan Africa could very well be giving the thumbs up to the good ol' USA because of positive things Bush has done in that region, including dramatically improving the lives of many Africans by providing billions of dollars to eradicate AIDS/HIV.

In the end, no one can be 100% sure about how the ENTIRE continent of Africa feels about the president. Volunteer coordinators I have talked to in Tanzania claim that many of the people they work with have a positive view of the United States, as well as the west. Given, the agency deploys volunteers to build houses and improve communities, but it is percisely those reasons that some Africans like us. Next year, I plan on traveling to Tanzania to do some volunteer work for a couple months, so I'll be able to what the situation is like on the ground myself.

Anonymous said...

c.h.

Tanzania sounds very cool. Have fun.

Hopefully we'll have a half-African President at that point!

BTW, the most recent smear campaign--the photo of him in traditional Somalian clothes--was really inappropriate. It's sad how much hostility there is towards Muslims in the U.S.

C.H. said...

I couldn't agree more. Whoever released that photo should be ashamed of themselves, especially because they assumed Americans might change their opinion on Obama simply because he was wearing African garments. So the man was experiencing another culture in a country his hertitage originates from, so what?

Whoever released the photo is obviously to afraid to debate the real issues and wanted to use "Islamaphobia" as a means to sway voters' opinions.

It's pretty pathetic...

Anonymous said...

United States historically ranks among the lowest contributors of foreign aid per capita amongst the worlds wealthiest nations and this hasn't changed under GWB. The United States has paid lip service to Sudan for their crimes in Darfur and yet didn't lift a finger to help out and put an end to the killing. However, they did have the money and time to fund and often directly participate in the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in late 2006. Africa is the only continent in the world with a majority Muslim Population,
most of the people living under the rule of dictators and authoritarian regimes, when your starving and living on less than a dollar a date and some wealthy looking westerner comes to you and asks " Hey what do you think of the United States?" You would probably respond with something positive in the hopes of getting a small payoff in return. Maybe I'm going out on a limb here. It is plausible that Africans can have a positive view of the United States, however it is misleading and I would be willing to bet my life savings on the fact that Bush's approval ratings in Africa are no where near 80%. I sure would like to see where and how they made their surveys, 'country side vs City, sample size, ethnic make up of sample etc...'

An opinionated African

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