Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Because we all know how much the Bushies hated Saudi

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on April 13, 2009

I was giving a quick read to the Economist’s take on Obama’s G20 tour, and the reaction to it back here in the US. Two things annoyed me in this article. Thing 1:

So far, the optimists form a sizeable majority. Pundits lauded Mr Obama’s performance in Europe. Public approval for his handling of foreign policy rose from 54% in February to 61% at the end of March, according to Gallup. These are impressive numbers. But the same poll found that disapproval of his handling of foreign policy had also gone up by six points, from 22% to 28%. Only the “don’t knows” declined. As Mr Obama starts to have a track record, more Americans are forming opinions about it.

First off, the last sentence should have been left on the editing room floor, as it says nothing. But secondly, if you are going to try to draw conclusions based on 6- and 7-point poll movements, you absolutely have to provide the margin of error. Did we learn nothing from Nate Silver, people?

Thing #2:

For many conservatives, the defining image of Mr Obama’s European tour was not the adoring crowds but the way America’s new president bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia. Bloggers juxtaposed his cursory nod to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth with the deep bow he gave to the dictatorial ruler of a far less reliable ally.

Now, look. I don’t think that Obama is going to be particularly groundbreaking when it comes to relations with Saudi Arabia, and I actually have some sympathy for the argument that we should be less friendly with them. However, this is an odd argument for conservatives to make, given Bush’s famous friendliness with the Saudi royal family (oh wait, I forgot – Bush isn’t actually conservative, or… something — activate competence dodge!). Moreover, our freedom to rile up the Saudis has been thoroughly compromised by the need to keep our bases there, due to some unpleasantness above their northern border that we apparently had something to do with. Gah! One set of war-mongering foiled by previous ill-advised war-mongering! Must remember to lay off the couscous while making mongering plans!

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