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Americans' perceptions of US international standing are way off

Trump routinely boasts about the United States' global standing, and a new poll suggests most Americans believe him. They shouldn't.
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd L) speaks as US President Donald Trump (C) arrives next to Greek Prime Minister...

"You know, this is a new age," Donald Trump said at a reception last week in honor of Black History Month. "This is a very exciting time. It's very exciting time for our country. Our country is respected again all over the world, they are respecting like we haven't been respected in many, many years, I'll tell you."

This is, to be sure, one of the president's favorite arguments. Trump has convinced himself that the United States was a global laughingstock before he took office, and now the country commands respect and admiration the world over. As the Republican sees it, the reversal is the direct result of his awesomeness.

The trouble is, a surprising number of Americans have apparently heard the line so often, they're starting to believe it. Gallup released these new findings this morning:

Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe the U.S. rates "very" or "somewhat favorably" in the world's eyes. Though the current figure is up just slightly from the 55% recorded last year, it represents the highest figure Gallup has found since 2003. [...]A relatively high proportion of Republicans say the U.S. is viewed favorably (80%), matching their views in 2018. This is the highest level of Republicans' confidence in the country's global image since 2002 during the post-9/11 period of the George W. Bush administration.

As a rule, I tend not to pay too much attention to polls like these, largely because they ask the public to guess. The average American doesn't know how the United States is seen abroad, so Gallup effectively asked respondents for their perceptions.

But since some Republicans are inclined to make a fuss about Gallup's findings, it's worth setting the record straight: those who believe the United States enjoys a strong global standing right now are mistaken.

As regular readers know, the recent evidence is unambiguous. Remember this report from a few months ago?

The image of the United States around the world has fallen substantially since Donald J. Trump became president, according to a poll of foreigners in 25 countries that was released on Monday.The drop has been particularly steep in parts of Europe and Latin America, according to the survey of 26,112 respondents by the Pew Research Center, an independent survey and research group, that was conducted between May 20 and Aug. 12.

The 2018 Pew data wasn’t the first piece of evidence we’ve seen in this larger indictment. A 2017 report from the Pew Research Center on global attitudes pointed in a similar direction, as did a report from Gallup, which reported a year ago, “One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors.”

The more Trump insists he’s rescued our reputation on the international stage, the more important it is to remind everyone that the Republican has this exactly backwards.