NEWS AND OPINION:
There was an underlying sense of foreboding among Republican voters during the 2016 election. Many said they no longer recognized America, or complained that they “want their country back.” Now we have some numbers.
Much of the nation agrees with this: “Seven out of 10 Americans think the United States is losing its national identity, while just 3 in 10 regard the country’s identity as secure, and these attitudes are related to threats to that identity and pride in several aspects of the country,” reports a new Associated Press survey, which cites three points in particular:
“Forty-seven percent say illegal immigration is threatening to the American way of life, and 15 percent think legal immigration threatens it. Seventy-one percent say the United States is losing its national identity — that is the beliefs and values the country represents,” the AP advised. “Fifty-seven percent say the United States should be a country with an essential culture that immigrants adopt when they arrive, and 42 percent think the culture of the country should change when new people arrive.”
The research found that respondents valued a fair judicial system and rule of law the most — cited by 88 percent — followed by individual freedoms defined by the Constitution, cited by 84 percent. The “shared use of the English language’ was in third place, cited by 73 percent. More numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.
“Donald Trump is making me gain weight. I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!”
NOW: Do you think the United States is losing its national identity?
— Barbra Streisand in a tweet Saturday, followed by another Sunday: “Trump just accused Obama of tapping his phones. Seriously crazy times. Time for more pancakes.”
A CULTURAL MOMENT
“A Russian lawmaker has proposed an unorthodox solution to the country’s problems with soccer hooliganism ahead of next year’s World Cup — legalize it and make it a spectator sport. Organized groups of Russian fans, many with martial arts training, fought English fans on the streets of Marseille during last year’s European Championship,” reports the Associated Press.
“That inspired Igor Lebedev, who sits in the Russian parliament, to draw up rules for what he calls ‘draka,’ the Russian word for ‘fight’ — 20 fighters on each side, unarmed, in an arena. In a statement on the website of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Mr. Lebedev said organized brawls ‘could turn fans’ aggression in a peaceful direction.’ He also claimed it would serve as an ‘example’ for English fans, who he characterized as undisciplined louts and poor fighters,” the AP noted.
THE KETCHUP FACTOR
“Donald Trump’s riches, rages and romance with Russia all demand scrutiny. They shape our fates. His meals don’t, so leave the man to his supper. Let him eat steak. Let him order it as he wishes and slather it with whatever he pleases. It’s going down his gullet, not ours, and if we’re honest, we all have dietary quirks and foibles. They’re just not out in the open for all of Twitter to mock. When did we turn into such food snobs here in America, land of the free and home of the Bloomin’ Onion?”
— New York Times columnist and former restaurant critic Frank Bruni, responding to a recent account in the Washington Post which mocked President Trump for putting ketchup on his well-done steak during a night out.
THE SPEECH STILL RESONATES
The alarmist press tends to suggest America is in dire straits, often distracting the public from straightforward findings overlooked amid melodramatic Trump bashing and fake news. Here’s something to consider.
“President Donald Trump‘s address to Congress on Tuesday night had a positive effect on many of those who watched it or read news coverage about it later. Almost six in 10 of this group rated the address as excellent or good, and more than one in three said it made them more confident in Trump’s abilities to carry out his duties as president,” reports Frank Newport, director of the Gallup poll.
Here’s what the pollster found: 57 percent of respondents rated the speech as good or excellent, 25 percent said it was “OK.” Sixteen percent said the speech was poor. Among Republicans, 89 percent gave Mr. Trump a tip-top rating, compared to 21 percent of Democrats — who weren’t as tough on the president as expected.
Gallup also found that 45 percent of the Dems called the speech “OK” while a third gave it a lousy review. The Democrats were “not necessarily hostile in their reactions,” Mr. Newport observed in his analysis.
“It’s unusual for a single speech to make a major difference in how the public views a president. In this instance, news coverage the day after the speech was focused on reports of contact between Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russia before the election, underscoring how real-world events can overtake the immediate impact of speeches in the news cycle,” Mr. Newport said.
MEDICARE ACTUALLY WORRY-FREE
“On Medicare, Speaker Paul Ryan said it may still be an open question about whether President Trump really doesn’t want to touch Medicare. Is it an open question?” CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“I’ll tell you what’s not an open question: that we believe in the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors,” Mr. Price replied, noting that the public fears Medicare is going broke or is insolvent.
“We don’t think that’s appropriate. We believe strongly in the guarantee of Medicare and make certain that it’s a viable, financially secure program going forward so that seniors now and in the future know that it will be there for them,” he noted.
POLL DU JOUR
• 76 percent of Americans say the nation has a “unique character” which makes the U.S. the greatest country in the world.
• 71 percent are afraid America is “losing its national identity.”
• 57 percent say the U.S. should have an “essential American culture and values” that immigrants take on when they arrive here.
• 57 percent believe immigrants in the past decade have “mostly retained their own cultures and values.”
• 47 percent say illegal immigration is “very threatening” to the U.S.; 25 percent say it is moderately threatening.
• 42 percent say America should “be made up of many cultures and values that change as new people arrive.”
Source: An Associated Press-NORC Center poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 16-20 and released Friday.
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