Inside the Beltway: Public frets that U.S. global prestige is fading

It’s complicated: The public is weary of the U.S. role as the world’s policeman, but it also frets about the nation’s declining prestige on the global stage and disapproves of both President Obama’s foreign policy practices and any attempts at nation building overseas. Yet Americans approve of aggressive participation in the world economy and favor drones in the military arsenal.

A wide-ranging Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday reveals that 53 percent of Americans say the U.S. is “less important and powerful” than it was a decade ago, a sentiment shared by 74 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats. Another 70 percent say the U.S. is less respected by other countries than in the past; 80 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

Few want the U.S. to be a wuss, however; 56 percent say the U.S. should attempt to remain the planet’s only “superpower”; 63 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree. And for good measure, more than two-thirds of the public overall say that America remains the world’s leading military power, while a mere 14 percent cited China.

But on to further complexities: 52 percent say the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can”; 53 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree. This is the highest percentage for this critical sentiment, Pew says, in 40 years. Meanwhile, 77 percent of Americans also say that growing trade and business ties globally is “good for the U.S.”; 74 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrat agree.

And about those drones: Half of the overall public say military drones have made America safer. And another 53 percent disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance in foreign policy. See more findings from this 110-page survey in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

MR. MATTHEWS‘ BIG MOMENT

“MSNBC has announced that Chris MatthewsBarack Obama’s most excitable fan — will be interviewing the president on Thursday’s ‘Hardball.’ “Fawning over the liberal politician is incredibly common among journalists, but Matthews has taken it to a whole new level,” sighs Scott Whitlock, senior news analyst for the Media Research Center.

He has assembled what he considers Mr. Matthews‘ top 10, uh, “Obamagasms” — this is the analyst’s word — since the 2008 election. Phrases about Mr. Obama from the top three include:

“This guy’s done everything right. He’s raised his family right He’s the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect American.

“I’ve been criticized for saying he inspires me, and to hell with my critics. You know, in the Bible they talk about Jesus serving the good wine last, I think the Democrats did the same.

“It’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”

MR. BROWN‘S BIG BROWN EYES

“Ring in the holiday season with U.S. Senator Scott Brown.”

— From the New Hampshire Republican Party’s invitation to a Dec. 19 reception to be hosted by the former Massachusetts senator, who has just donated $10,000 to the Granite State GOP through his political action committee. Tickets range from $50 to a serious $2,500 each; observers say all of this is a sure sign that Mr. Brown pines to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2014.

Sen. Brown is an outstanding leader and a strong voice for fiscally responsible policies,” says a cordial Jennifer Horn, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

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