The Edge: How Do Americans Feel About Obama? It's Complicated

National Journal Staff

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How Do Americans Feel About Obama? It's Complicated

The latest Gallup polling on President Obama is fascinating and paradoxical.

People still overwhelmingly like him—76 percent find him likable—and they still have faith in him. Nearly six in 10 say he displays good judgment in a crisis. Fifty-six percent say he understands their problems, 55 percent say he's honest and trustworthy (after IRS, NSA, and everything else), and 53 percent say he's a strong and decisive leader.

Yet Obama does substantially worse on subjects related to his actual performance. Clear plan for solving the country's problems, 38 percent. Works well with both parties, 40 percent. Manages government effectively, 44 percent.

What to make of these contradictory assessments? One possibility is that on some level, the public has absorbed certain realities—polarization and paralysis in Washington, violence and instability around the world—and views them as either intractable or best left alone.

Conservatives consider Obama feckless and incompetent. That most people continue to view him as strong and decisive, however, suggests support for his approach to executive power and his determination to avoid quagmires and unintended consequences in tinderboxes like Syria and Egypt.

Jill Lawrence


EGYPTIAN MILITARY OUSTS MORSI AND CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS. With the two-day ultimatum issued to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi passed, Egypt's military chief said Wednesday that the president was no longer in power and that early elections would be held in the country as the chief justice of the constitutional court takes over on an interim basis, the Associated Press reports. Top generals called civilian leaders to an emergency meeting earlier Wednesday to discuss implementing an interim government as tanks and barbed wire closed Morsi into his presidential palace. A top Morsi adviser said a "coup" was underway and warned that "considerable bloodshed" is likely. Frequent updates from a jubilant Tahrir Square continued pouring in following the news of Morsi's ouster. Prior to the military's announcement, the U.S. State Department said it is "very concerned" about the fluid situation. Read more

  • On the eve of July Fourth, Arab secularists get a sort of Independence Day, National Journal's Michael Hirsh writes. But the real question is whether the Islamists ever learn to join the modern world. Read more

CBO: SENATE BILL WOULD CURB ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. The immigration bill passed by the Senate would reduce illegal immigration into the U.S. by one-third to one-half, the Congressional Budget Office said today. Additionally, the legislation would reduce the budget deficit by $158 billion over 10 years and another $685 billion during the following decade because of taxes from newly legalized residents. The cash infusion would occur despite the bill's increase in spending for enhanced border security. Read more

  • Heightened security will prevent 800,000 unauthorized immigrants from crossing the border in the next decade. But it will cost about $36.6 billion, or roughly $45,750 per immigrant, National Journal's Niraj Chokshi reports. Read more

LERNER WILL ONLY TESTIFY ON IRS PROBE IF GRANTED IMMUNITY. It appears that only a grant of immunity from prosecution will get Lois Lerner to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity," Lerner's lawyer told Politico. "That's the way to resolve all of this." The committee apparently doesn't see it that way, though. The panel decided last week that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she professed her innocence in the Internal Revenue Service scandal at a hearing. Lerner is under fire as the former head of the IRS division that scrutinized groups seeking nonprofit status. Read more

WHY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CAN'T WIN ON HEALTH CARE. The Obama administration had been absorbing constant political attacks about the job-killing nature of the Affordable Care Act, with its complex employer-reporting requirements and fines for large companies that don't offer their workers insurance. But when it announced Tuesday that it would delay implementation of the employer mandate, the attack lines simply shifted from arguments about policy merit to those about the administration's competence. Republicans used the decision to amp up their calls for repealing the law. It shows that when it comes to the health care law—the president's signature legislative accomplishment—the administration can't win, National Journal's Margot Sanger-Katz writes. Read more

HACKERS A NECESSARY RISK FOR NSA. National security officials find the growing ranks of rebellion-prone young hackers a risky but necessary part of the work carried out by the National Security Agency, The Wall Street Journal reports. "We have developed this hacker concept, so we want the people that will be the best at breaking into a network," said a retired NSA technical director, adding that the agency "will take a chance on somebody who has the skills we need." The result is that people like fugitive Edward Snowden are hired and given access to national secrets, TheJournal writes. Read more

  • A mysterious hacker known as "The Jester" has launched cyberattacks against Ecuador in an ongoing quest to foil Snowden's asylum requests—and he's out to get Julian Assange, too, Mother Jones reports. Read more

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION MUM ON CLAIMS OF ECUADOR EMBASSY BUGGING. Ecuador's foreign minister said a hidden microphone was found recently in the country's London embassy—the same one housing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—but Obama administration officials are not commenting on the matter, Mother Jones reports. "This is a testament to the loss of ethics at an international level in the relations that we have with other governments," the foreign minister said in an online statement. "We are infiltrated from all sides." Snowden, still presumed to be stuck in a Moscow airport transit zone, is seeking asylum in Ecuador, a consideration the country said it will make only if Snowden reaches Ecuadorean territory. Read more

  • It's anyone's guess who bugged Assange's hideout, but there are a couple of obvious candidates, The Atlantic Wire's Philip Bump writes. Read more

BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT'S PLANE LEAVES AUSTRIA—AND NO, SNOWDEN IS NOT ON IT. Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane has left Austria after being rerouted there for an unscheduled 13-hour overnight layover due to suspicions that Snowden might be onboard, The New York Times reports. This morning, a rather agitated Morales told reporters in Vienna that Snowden was not on board and couldn't leave Moscow because the U.S. had revoked his passport. Morales also called the stop tantamount to "being held hostage." Read more

RUBIO IS LATEST TO SEEK BAN ON ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS. After facing stiff criticism from some Republicans over his role in the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" that pushed an immigration bill through the Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has agreed to sponsor a controversial bill that seeks to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, The Weekly Standard reports. Rubio, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, will face both a Democratic-controlled Senate and a veto threat from Obama. But a similar measure passed the House last week by a vote of 228-196. Read more


MUSIC AND FIREWORKS AT THE CAPITOL. The National Park Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Department of the Army; the Boeing Company; American Airlines; and PBS will host the Independence Day annual event, "A Capitol Fourth Concert," at 8 p.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

BREWERS AT NATIONALS. The Washington Nationals will hold the third game of the 2013 Patriotic Series, against the Milwaukee Brewers, at 11:05 a.m. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will perform the National Anthem along with members of the Army Chorus. Grammy Award-winning singer Neil Diamond will perform during the "In-Game Military Salute."


"He could lose this race and cost Republicans the majority. He needs to consider whether it might be time to hang it up." -- Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins, calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to consider retiring (The Washington Post)


GETTYSBURG: SHAPING THE NATION'S VIEW OF WAR? Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, a three-day "Armageddon-like conflict" that left 7,000 dead and many more injured, historian and Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust and documentary filmmaker Ric Burns write for Time. The town had fewer than 2,500 people, but the casualties topped the combined total of the country's previous wars. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address embodied that new way Americans would begin to view war and soldiers when he said that the combatants "gave their lives that that nation might live" and cemented the battle, Faust and Burns write, as "one of the great founding moments in American life." Read more


THE BEST POLITICIANS ON TELEVISION. With the Fourth of July soon upon us, The Daily Beast is naming the top 11 TV politicians, including The West Wing's President Jed Bartlet; The Wire's Tommy Carcetti as Baltimore's mayor; and Lisa Simpson, who predicts that she'll become president in 2020. See the rest here.


A DIFFERENT KIND OF JET SET. As Edward Snowden continues his quest for asylum, The New Republic takes a look at "exile chic," compiling a map of high-profile defections -- some motivated by politics, and others by financial considerations. See it here

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Edge will take a break over the Independence Day holiday. It will resume publication Monday, July 8.

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