During Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans chose a strange line of attack. As regular readers know, Obama’s GOP detractors seemed absolutely convinced that the Democratic president had done real damage to the United States’ international standing. The opposite was true, but GOP officials nevertheless argued, with unnerving vigor, that America had forfeited the admiration of the world – and it was Obama’s fault.During the Republican presidential primaries, for example, Jeb Bush insisted that during the Obama era, “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends.” Around the same time, Scott Walker and Donald Trump had a chat about “how poorly” the United States is now “perceived throughout the world.” Mitt Romney added, “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office.”
All of this was bizarre and sharply at odds with the evidence. But perhaps more importantly, it’s also terribly inconvenient for the GOP now that those same criticisms actually apply to a Republican president.
Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.
The sharp decline in how much global public trusts the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada. Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel.
The Pew Research Center’s report included several helpful charts to help illustrate the data, but I made the above image to help drive the point home.
Remember, it was Republicans who insisted on the importance of this metric. We simply cannot afford, they said, to have an American president that the rest of the world doesn’t trust, respect, and admire.
And yet, here we are.