Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) big foreign policy speech didn’t go quite as well as he’d hoped last week, but his campaign team has nevertheless packaged excerpts from the event into a new 30-second ad. There’s nothing especially remarkable about the commercial, though it included a claim that stood out for me.
“Everywhere you look, you see the world slipping out of control,” Bush begins. “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We definitely know no longer inspire fear in our enemies.”
This comes on the heels of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) having a chat last week with Donald Trump about and “how poorly” the United States is “perceived throughout the world.”
And just last year, it was Mitt Romney who argued, “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office.”
It seems to be one of those myths that’s simply accepted as fact: the United States enjoyed global respect and admiration, right up until that rascally Obama took office and ruined everything. Now, as Jeb Bush put it, we’ve “lost the trust and confidence of our friends.”
If this were in any way true, the president’s critics might have a point, but the evidence points in the exact opposite direction.
As long time readers may recall, Harry Enten took a closer look at the data a while back and found the entire argument doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny.
In 2012, Gallup asked whether people “approve or disapprove of America’s leadership” in 130 countries. It had asked the same question in 2008 in most of those same countries.In 2012, the percentage of people approving of America’s leadership was up 7 percentage points in the median country since 2008. It was up 6 points in the Americas, 6 points in Asia and 18 points in Europe. It was down 3 points in Africa. More people approved than disapproved in every region.Pew has conducted international polling asking whether people had a “favorable or unfavorable view of the United States” in every year since 2002. Pew has surveyed countries as diverse as Argentina and Uganda, but it has polled a different set of nations each year. The best years to look at are probably 2007 and 2013, when Pew polled more countries than usual.From 2007 to 2013, Pew found that views of the United States improved in 22 countries. Eight nations’ favorable ratings increased by at least 20 percentage points; only four saw a decline. The median country’s views of the U.S. went up by 9 points.
What’s more, respect for the United States’ foreign policy also got a major boost when Obama overhauled our policy towards Cuba.
There’s just one other related angle to keep in mind. If Jeb Bush is genuinely concerned with whether, and to what degree, the U.S. is respected and admired around the world, he’s apparently angry with the wrong president.
Looking over the data from the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, the actual drop in our national stature came under Bush/Cheney, when much of the world repelled from the Republican administration’s policies on war, torture, and global cooperation.