Villagers misread attitudes on terror

VILLAGERS MISREAD ATTITUDES ON TERROR…. It seemed to start in earnest over the weekend. The New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd said she knows what Americans expect from their president in the wake of a terrorist scare, and President Obama doesn’t get it. The president’s calm, unflappable demeanor isn’t good enough, she said — he should do more to be “the strong father.”

Other pundits are running with a very similar line. The Washington Post‘s Michael Gerson believes the president seems “disconnected” from the public’s fears, and should show more “empathy.” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly lamented Obama’s “unemotional” response to the failed plot.

Conservatives haven’t found fault with actual, substantive presidential performance, and can’t point to policy concerns, so we’re stuck with rhetoric about rhetoric — Villagers and Obama’s detractors on the right are unsatisfied with the president’s tone, facial features, and cool demeanor, all of which, they insist, are incompatible with Americans’ expectations.

But as Greg Sargent noted, it’s not the president who’s out of touch. He pointed to four independent national polls — Gallup, CNN, Quinnipiac, and CBS — all of which were released this week, and all of which found strong public support for the president’s handling of the issue and his personal traits.

Any opinionmakers who repeat the B.S. “Spock” or “detached” meme going forward are either not reading polls (pretty incompetent for a pundit) or willfully ignoring them in order to weave a narrative that has nothing to do with what voters really think.

Either way, this storyline is entirely detached from the public’s priorities. Which is pretty rich, since it’s all about … Obama’s alleged detachment from the public.

If history is any guide, the unanimous polls won’t sway the pundits — they know what Americans think, even if Americans disagree — and the foolish meme will continue.

But the irony of watching a bunch of out-of-touch establishment types complain about the president’s “disconnect” is nevertheless rich.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.