When he withdrew troops from Iraq, Obama himself proclaimed, “we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.” That was in 2011. Flash forward to now, and Iraq is none of those things; indeed, Iraq is now an ISIS strong-hold, part of their declared caliphate.
Throughout Obama’s presidency, we’ve heard him blame President Bush for everything from the still-flailing economy to the rise of ISIS. His supporters within the media have ensured that this message is the one that Americans hear most often, and for (too many) years, (far too many) Americans have believed what they were told.
A CNN poll found that, for the first time, more Americans blame Obama than President Bush for the instability in Iraq:
[N]early the same percent of people blame President Barack Obama’s policies for the current situation in Iraq as those who hold President George W. Bush responsible, the survey showed.
Overall, 44% say they blame Obama’s policies for the problems in Iraq and 43% blame Bush; 11% say both are equally responsible.
Those figures are largely driven by partisanship, with 79% of Democrats saying Bush is at fault and 75% of Republicans placing the blame on Obama. Independents, who generally lean a bit more toward the GOP than the Democrats, tilt toward blaming the current president, 48% blame Obama compared with 37% who blame Bush.
The difference here is with independents. As Hot Air notes,
That’s big news potentially for 2016, both generally, in how it suggests the public may be newly receptive to a Bush-style hawk who’ll vow to smash ISIS, and specifically for Jeb Bush, whose Iraq albatross now might not be quite as heavy as everyone thinks.
How’d we get from “Bush’s war” to Obama sharing the blame for the fall of Iraq? Pretty simple, really. Per CNN’s crosstabs, in May 2009, 52 percent said things were going very or moderately well for the U.S. in Iraq. Today, when ISIS is inserted into that question, just 38 percent say so. Last September, support for Obama’s handling of ISIS split along partisan lines at 45/49; today, with ISIS in control in Ramadi and threatening Baghdad, it’s 32/63. All of which is to say, starting when Obama took office and even for several years afterward, the public had come around to believing that Iraq was finally on the right track. In fact, Obama had come around to believing that Iraq was on the right track. Two weeks before the last American soldier left the country in December 2011, he gave a de facto victory speech at Fort Bragg. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq,” he told the troops. “By battling and building block by block in Baghdad, by bringing tribes into the fold and partnering with the Iraqi army and police, you helped turn the tide toward peace.” In his rush to take credit for bringing the troops home by effectively declaring “mission accomplished,” he set the stage for the public to turn on him, not Bush, when everything fell apart later. And now they have. Congrats, champ. You earned it.
Watch Obama declare Iraq a “success” and “an extraordinary achievement”:
Featured image via CNNDONATE
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