Opinion: Afghan war takes record toll on Obama’s rating too

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With Americans’ attention not surprisingly focused on a costly and volatile domestic issue such as the price of gasoline, now comes word that President Obama’s handling of one of the nation’s three wars is seriously hurting his approval rating.

ABC News reports Monday afternoon that new polling reveals nearly half of all Americans (49%) now disapprove of his handling of his war in Afghanistan, the one that he argued for so long was the proper war against terrorism.

That 49% is the worst disapproval the Democrat has experienced on the conflict, now almost....

...10 years long. And although the war has not been atop the daily news flow in recent weeks, the disapproval rating is up a startling eight points just since January. His war approval is also down significantly, 12 points. Worse for Obama’s reelection prospects in just 561 days, the intensity level of strong disapproval is mounting, now running almost 2-to-1 over strong approval. Seventy percent of those disapproving said they’d vote for another candidate in 2012.


So far this year, about one American soldier has died every day in Afghanistan, with casualties expected to mount as the desolate land’s rugged winter comes to an end and fighting intensifies. To date, 2,422 soldiers have lost their lives in the ongoing struggle, 1,549 of them Americans.

Obama may be counting on the announced start of a U.S. troop withdrawal in mid-summer and the promise of ending American involvement in 2014 to lessen attention to the war’s difficulties.

However, with 100,000 U.S. troops in-country, any withdrawal will surely spill into next winter’s presidential primary/caucus season.

The new poll numbers came as Obama held a monthly strategy review meeting on that theater of war.

However, since that serious session was closed, American news consumers will be treated instead to jarring images of the tieless Democrat rolling Easter eggs on the White House lawn, clowning with a tennis racket and shooting some hoops with kids for the cameras, while American troops fight far away.

On Wednesday, Obama flies Air Force One to Chicago for three hours just to tape an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s show, and then he attends a Democratic fundraiser in New York City. On Friday, he will fly to Florida to watch the space shuttle Endeavour’s last scheduled launch. Last Saturday, he got in his 65th round of golf, which he says allows him to escape the job pressure.

According to ABC News’ poll honcho, Gary Langer, Obama’s war disapproval jump is due largely to a collapse in support among those on the political right, long the Democrat’s staunchest supporters in the war on terrorism.

Additionally, the president’s puzzling involvement of U.S. forces in the likely stalemated Libyan civil war against a dictator ruling there since Obama was in the third grade has drawn more attention from disappointed supporters on the left.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times; Dima Gavrysh / Associated Press