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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Libya

Obama job approval mired below 50% for 6th straight quarter

Great news for President Obama's never-ending, billion-dollar reelection campaign: His job approval rating didn't get any worse last quarter.

Of course, they're still not all that great -- they've averaged below 50% for most of his 912-day-old presidency.Obama in the white house, file

In the quarter between April 20 and July 19, Gallup reports this morning, the Democrat averaged a 46.8% job approval.

It could be worse; Obama's seventh quarter average was only 44.7%.

But he's a long way from what now seems like the halcyon days of 63% approval after his first quarter, back in 2009 when Obama's term was so full of promise, like closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, holding unemployment below 8% and bringing partisan Washington back together.

The good news for the aging Obama, who starts his 51st year early next month, is that both Presidents Reagan and Clinton also averaged below majority approval in their 10th quarters and still went on to a second term.

The bad news is that Jimmy Carter did the same in 1980 and went on to defeat. Also, both Reagan and Clinton showed significant approval improvement between their ninth and tenth quarters.

Obama did not.

This is the sixth straight quarter out of 10 that Obama's approval hasn't reached 50%. He last saw that mark after his first full year in office, well before his party lost control of the House of Representatives and even before the Libyan war.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pete Souza / White House

As the House votes today, public support fades for President Obama's military actions against Libya

Libya Exploding Bombs in Tripoli 6-7-11

 Americans' support for President Obama's attacks against Libya is suddenly crumbling.

A new Gallup poll out this morning finds that more than three months into the air assaults that were supposed to last days, not weeks, Americans are now more likely to disapprove than approve of the Democrat's military action.

The poll comes just two days after Obama, noting Americans' war fatigue with the 10-year conflict in Afghanistan, rejected more cautious advice from generals and ordered a sharp drawdown in American troops before the 2012 presidential election.

House Speaker John Boehner says that body will vote today on two resolutions on the Libyan war, one to limit the U.S. role in the allied action and one to support it, although the president has not sought such support nor authorization for the ongoing combat.

In a speech nine days after the first missiles struck, Obama said the air attacks on regime forces prevented bloodshed. He justified the attacks as being in the U.S. national interest because they prevented a possible "humanitarian crisis" of dictator Moammar Kadafi's troops killing innocent civilians.

Last week, in documentation delivered to Congress, the president said the conflict has so far cost in excess of $700 million and is projected to cost more than $1 billion by SepteLibya war a Crashed US F-15E on 3-22-11mber.

He stated that the missiles, bombings and strafings are not hostilities, a claim that Boehner said "defies rational thought."

Obama says such ongoing normal military activities with NATO allies are therefore not subject to the 1973 War Powers Act requiring presidential notification of Congress and approval or cessation within 90 days.

The 90-day limit on the Libyan action expired last Sunday. Bipartisan anger at Obama's attitude has been growing in recent days.

"This is primarily a fight between the Congress and the president over his unwillingness to consult with us before making this decision," the Republican said.

The new Gallup poll finds that overall American attitudes toward this third ongoing Middle Eastern conflict have shifted from 47% approve-37% disapprove in late March to 39% approve-46% disapprove on June 22.

Democrats' support for the attacks on Libya and Kadafi has remained stable since the assaults began March 19 as Obama toured South America.

Attitudes on the assault shifted most sharply among Republicans, with approval plummeting from 57% to 39% while disapproval climbed from 31% to 47%.

Among independents, who were a crucial part of Obama's victorious electoral coalition in 2008, approval dropped from 38% to 31% while disapproval rose from 44% to 52%, the highest disapproval among all political affiliations.

Gallup's questions probing voter objections determined they had little to do with the authorization issue that preoccupies Congress. That bothered only 29%.

However, 64% felt the United States simply shouldn't be involved in Libya at all.

RELATED:

Obama's job approval even worse among the military

Obama's unauthorized war on Libya costs $9,421,000 a day

Boehner says Obama's no Libya hostilities claim 'defies rational thought'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: EPA (Bombs fall on Tripoli, June 7); Suhaib Salem / Reuters (A crashed U.S. F-15E in Libya).

Obama's speech on the Afghanistan war: Draining a political mess of his own making

Afghanistan casualties 6-21-11 Sgt Edward F Dixon comes home

Here's some important new information that President Obama should certainly leave out of his big Afghanistan speech Wednesday evening:

Only 12% of people in our most important regional ally, Pakistan, now have a positive view of the United States. And only 8% express confidence in the American leader to do the right thing, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

This could have something to do with deadly U.S. drone raids on Pakistan and the assassination of Osama bin Laden there in a commando incursion; a whopping 14% of Pakistanis think the latter was a good thing.

Full Transcript of Obama Speech

Obama's speech from the White House this evening will be his third major address on Afghanistan, now ...

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Sunday shows: Gates, Graham, Durbin, Lugar, Rogers

Departing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with Elizabeth Cheney, David Ignatius and Husain Haqqani, Matthew Dowd, George Will and Amy Walter.

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Robert Reich, David Stockman, Maziar Bahari and Fawaz Gerges.

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and David Axelrod.

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Gates and Jon Stewart, with Dana Perino, Bill Kristol, Mara Liasson and Bill Burton.

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press (Gates)

Escalation in Libya war dispute: Boehner says Obama's no-hostilities claim 'defies rational thought'

Republican House Speaker John Boehner 2011A surprising escalation late today in the ongoing constitutional dispute over President Obama's right to conduct the war in Libya without congressional approval.

In a statement late Friday (full text below) House Speaker John Boehner criticized the administration's refusal to provide requested information, mocked its claim about no combat in Libya and vowed new actions in coming days to "hold the administration to account."

Boehner said Congress would "not allow the White House to continue skirting its obligations to the American people, this Congress, and the laws of this nation."

The serious constitutional dispute has been building almost since the conflict's earliest attacks March 19 when Obama assured concerned House members that the conflict, ostensibly designed to prevent threatened widespread rebel civilian killings by Moammar Kadafi's forces, would last days, not weeks. The mission has since been expanded to oust or kill Kadafi.

Now three months into the operation that has cost $716 million so far, Obama has no authorization or declaration of war to give him the authority to conduct the military operations.

A 90-day limit on such combat operations under the War Powers Resolution of 1973 expires Sunday. A bipartisan group of congressmen has already sued the Democratic administration over its refusal to seek appropriate legal authority.

Earlier this week the White House delivered documents to Congress, essentially arguing that it did not need congressional approval for such a limited operation, anticipated to cost $1.1 billion by September.

Administration attorneys essentially argued that the United States was playing a back-seat and supportive role to NATO allies and didn't need authority for such ongoing defense operations.

Boehner said: "The White House’s suggestion that there are no ‘hostilities’ taking place in Libya defies rational thought."

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found 59% believe Obama should get congressional approval before continuing military action in Libya, and only 26% of likely voters want U.S. involvement there to continue.

Perhaps the top Republican in Congress can discuss these issues Saturday when he is scheduled to play golf with the president, Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

RELATED:

Obama's unauthorized Libyan war costs you $9,241,000 a day

President Obama's March speech on the attacks on Libya

Obama's job approval among the military even worse than among civilians

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Statement by Speaker John Boehner on Libya and the War Powers Resolution, as provided by his office

The American people and members on both sides of the aisle have concerns about the mission in Libya and questions that have gone unanswered by this White House.the USS Barry launches Tomahawk missiles at Libya 3-19-11

While the President responded to some questions earlier this week, it is unfortunate that he specifically chose not to respond to an important question about whether the Office of Legal Counsel supports the White House’s extraordinary legal basis for ongoing military operations in Libya. 

Despite the constitutional concerns anyone may have with the statute, the War Powers Resolution is the law of the land and cannot be simply ignored.

The White House’s suggestion that there are no ‘hostilities’ taking place in Libya defies rational thought. Now, its decision to conceal the opinion of the OLC raises even more concerns.

From the outset of this operation, members of the House have demonstrated respect for the authority granted to the Commander-in-Chief.

Unfortunately, the President has not exhibited a similar appreciation for Congress’ important job of providing oversight and accountability.

Even worse, he has failed to communicate to the American people why continuing this mission is critical to our national security.

The House of Representatives will not allow the White House to continue skirting its obligations to the American people, this Congress, and the laws of this nation. Over the coming week, our members will review all options available to hold the administration to account.    ####

Photos: Mike Theiler / EPA (Boehner); ICEF Roderick Eubanks / U.S. Navy (the USS Barry launches Tomahawk missiles at Libya in March).

Obama's unauthorized war on Libya costs $9,421,000 a day: Are you getting your money's worth?

Libya allied Bombs Blast Cars

The Obama administration is spending almost $9.5 million every single day to blow things up in Libya because the president has determined that is in the country's national interest, this country's national interest, not Libya's.

You may not have noticed the $392,542 flowing out of the national treasury every hour, day and night, since those first $1.5 million Tomahawks flashed from the launch tubes back on March 19.

But Libya's dictator Moammar Kadafi has. Not enough to quit, mind you, because he can hide while his troops do the dying and killing.

Kadafi's military might has been degraded sufficiently by allied missiles and bombs to perhaps create a long-lasting stalemate with rebel forces in the desert conflict that Obama initially promised House members would last a matter of days, not weeks.Kadafi greets Obama 2009

Thirteen weeks later Obama, who was elected running against the war in Iraq, finds himself also embroiled in an escalating constitutional conflict at home over another war that he started while touring South America with his family in March.

You may recall that nine days later the Real Good Talker did what he usually does when attacked; he gave a speech to address the outcry over the sudden conflict without meaningful congressional consultation.

"When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act," the Democrat declared. The president made the case that Kadafi was a ruthless ruler, who vowed "no mercy" on his own protesting countrymen. Obama added:

We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world. It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen.

The trouble is that numerous bad guys are killing their own people all the time around the world. Syria comes immediately to mind as a place where government security....

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Ominous new White House warning on Syria calls the situation a 'humanitarian crisis'; sound familiar?

President Obama ordered missiles fired on Libya from the USS Barry 3-19-11

Maybe coincidence, but....

When President Obama launched missiles and warplanes against Libya's longtime dictator Col. Kadafi in March, it came after a series of public warnings from both the president himself and his press secretary, Jay Carney, in support of pro-democracy demonstrators and against the regime's violent reactions.

The ongoing attacks against Libya, which Obama said would last days not weeks, began as the president launched several days of travel around South America.

Obama later justified the aggressive U.S. and NATO action against Libya as necessary to snuff the "threat" of a humanitarian crisis in Benghazi where the ruler had vowed to kill protesting civilians.

At that time critics pointed to Syria, Yemen and elsewhere as places where violent repressions were already occurring and wondered about possible U.S. actions there, as well as an over-commitment of U.S. forces, now involved three military conflicts.

Remarkably, no use of the word "threat" in today's short and stern White House statement by Carney. Scroll down for the full text.

Carney flatout calls the deadly crackdown by Syrian security forces an existing "humanitarian crisis." Rights organizations estimate more than 1,000 civlians have died there in recent weeks at the hands of security forces of President Bashir al Assad.

One other coincidence: Obama is spending the weekend at Camp David. After his Sunday return the travels to another jobs event in North Carolina, fundraisers in Miami and then offshore to an official visit to Puerto Rico.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Statement by the Press Secretary on Syria

The Syrian government’s offensive in northern Syria has created a humanitarian crisis.

The United States calls upon the Syrian government to stop this violence, and to give the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) immediate, unfettered access to this region to care for the needs of wounded individuals, detainees, and internally displaced civilians.

Syrian leaders have no excuse for denying humanitarian assistance by a neutral body like the ICRC.  If Syria's leaders fail to provide this access, they will once again be showing contempt for the dignity of the Syrian people.    ####

RELATED:

More deadly violence in Syria draws new White House warning

Again, Obama warns Syria about using violence against pro-democracy demonstrators

Now after all the warnings to Libya, Obama is warning Syria about violence against democratic forces

Photo: ICEF Roderick Eubanks / U.S. Navy (a U.S. Tomahawk missile heads toward Libya from the USS Barry, March 19).

Breaking Urgent Flash Really Rush: Mitt Romney is running for president, again, still

Republican Mitt Romney Announce his presidential candidacy in Stratham NH 6-2-11

Mitt Romney announced today what most sentient Americans have known since August of 2008, the former Massachusetts governor is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

This became quickly obvious long ago when John McCain's Hail Sarah pass was ruined by McCain's own backbiting staff and then completely blown up by the Wall Street meltdown, not to mention eight years of accumulating anger over George W. Bush policies and his lazy decision to keep Dick Cheney as political partner, instead of grooming a young heir apparent for four years.

So, with no Hillary Clinton pantsuits to mock, the country was doomed by its own self-proclaimed progressive news media to focus on the credentials of the female GOP candidate -- the important stuff, you know, her frameless glasses, alleged wardrobe desires, whether her hair was up or down on any given day, and, of course, red shoes or not. What deleterious impacts her political ambitions had on her poor, oddly-named children. And the possible divorce there rumored by no one trustworthy.

Instead of superficial campaign stuff like the Real Good Talker's blank resume, absence of reform credentials, bald ambition and Chicago machine heritage.

According to Republican tradition, next year's nomination should go to....

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Obama's job approval among the military is even worse than among civilians

Obama greets US troops in Afghanistan

Some ominous political news for President Obama the day after he chose Memorial Day to name a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

With just 15 months until the 2012 presidential election, Obama's overall job approval among Americans has sunk back down into the 40s.

But now a new poll of nearly a quarter-million Americans finds the commander-in-chief's job approval is even worse among members of the military, present and past.

A new Gallup poll finds that slightly more than a third of those military members (37%) approve of their commander's overall job from January of last year through April  2011.

This compares to Obama's 48% approval among nonmilitary Americans during the same period, Gallup reported.general martin Dempsey 5-11

The disapproval gap crosses all age groups. Men, especially veterans over 40, tend to disapprove of Obama more than women.

This would seem to indicate failure of this president's major public relations effort to be seen supporting veterans' affairs. On the Monday holiday the president did some business.

Obama announced he'd changed his mind about having Gen. Martin Dempsey (photo, right) as Army chief of staff. The veteran of two command cycles in Iraq had taken the top Army job less than two months ago.

Obama named him the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to replace Admiral Mike Mullen, who retires this fall. The president also visited Arlington National Cemetery for the traditional holiday wreath-laying and then got in some more golf.

The president, his new chairman and new secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, have some challenges to address. Although the emphasis in Iraq has been on drawdown, nearly 50,000 U.S. troops remain there.

In Afghanistan results have been mixed, despite Obama ordering two troop surges and putting Gen. David Petraeus in command. Petraeus, who has called Afghanistan progress "fragile," is returning to replace Panetta as president george w bush greets u.s. troops in koreahead of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Then there is Obama's newest war in Libya, where allied air attacks have degraded Col. Kadafi's military, but not sufficiently to tip the balance to the untrained rebels.

Polls now show a majority of Americans do not feel the nation's longest war in Afghanistan has been worth the costs in money or lives.

Nearly 1,600 Americans have lost their lives there, including seven the other day in a single suicide bomb attack.

Last month a Gallup poll found only 41% of Americans approved of Obama's overal job performance as president. That is the fourth time he has reached that level of approval, the lowest he has incurred since taking office on Jan. 20, 2009, when his approval was 69%.

Related:

Gallup poll on standing of Republican presidential candidates

Killing Osama bin Laden: Why did Obama's poll boost sink so quickly?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Pete Souza / White House (Obama greets U.S. troops in Afghanistan); Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie / USAF (Dempsey); Eric Draper / White House (President George W. Bush greets U.S. troops in South Korea).

No laughing here over Obama's latest travel gaffe

Obama Signature with the Wrong Date 5-24-11

Just watch, sometime soon -- maybe even this morning -- some lamestream journalist will start collecting all the gaffes from President Obama's latest foreign jaunt.

The funniest so far was his not knowing what day or year it was in London on Tuesday when he signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey. Obama reportedly asked someone nearby what the date was and they told him "May 24," assuming incorrectly that the leader of the free world would know what year it was (2011).

Instead, Obama wrote in his leftist scrawl "24 May 2008."

Understandable in a way. Those were heady days back then when the ex-state senator was not crawling along with approval ratings in the 40s and he was fixing to tie up the Democratic nomination and make Oprah Winfrey cry off her false eyelashes in Denver.

Although, to be accurate, on May 24 2008 Hillary Clinton had yet to ....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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