51 Percent Say Ambassador Stevens’ Murder Will Hurt Obama

Daniel Doherty

10/15/2012 2:21:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

A recently conducted Rasmussen Reports survey shows that a majority of Americans now believe the Obama administration’s response to the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi last month will hurt the incumbent’s chances of winning re-election:

Voters are now more critical of how the Obama administration has handled the situation in Libya, including the murder of the U.S. ambassador there, and most think it will hurt President Obama’s chances for reelection. However, they are slightly more confident in the president than Mitt Romney to handle events in the Middle East.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 35% of Likely U.S. Voters now rate the way the administration has responded to the situation in Libya as good or excellent. That’s down nine points from 44% in mid-September just after the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Forty percent (40%) view the administration’s Libya response as poor, up from 34% a month ago. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Only seven percent (7%) of voters think the circumstances surrounding the murder of the ambassador will help the president in the election. Fifty-one percent (51%) believe his reelection effort will be hurt by the Libyan situation, while 29% say it will have no impact. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

It is of course true that the president’s unconscionable handling of the crisis in Libya will (and should) hurt his political prospects. Four courageous and dedicated Americans, after all, were callously murdered last month -- including a sitting US Ambassador. And yet, as we recently learned, top administration officials are still eschewing blame and faulting others. Meanwhile, the aftermath of that catastrophic event -- as Dr. Charles Krauthammer argued last month -- has perhaps even larger implications:

In the week following 9/11/12 something big happened: the collapse of the Cairo Doctrine, the centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy. It was to reset the very course of post-9/11 America, creating, after the (allegedly) brutal depredations of the Bush years, a profound rapprochement with the Islamic world.

Never lacking ambition or self-regard, Obama promised in Cairo, June 4, 2009, “a new beginning” offering Muslims “mutual respect,” unsubtly implying previous disrespect. Curious, as over the previous 20 years, America had six times committed its military forces on behalf of oppressed Muslims, three times for reasons of pure humanitarianism (Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo), where no U.S. interests were at stake.

It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan.

The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist.

What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?

In less than forty-eight hours President Obama and Governor Romney will face off in the second of three scheduled 90 minute televised debates where foreign policy will likely be a major topic of discussion. Thus, I suspect if President Obama fails to adequately defend his administration’s handling of the situation in Libya -- as his esteemed running mate failed to do last week -- more and more Americans may begin questioning their blind allegiance to the Democratic presidential ticket.