Via Scoblete, Democracy in America has links to a new Economist/YouGov poll that has several interesting results. This is a poll of “general population respondents” rather than one of likely voters, so we should bear in mind that these results do not give us a clear picture of what midterm voters will do. Nonetheless, this poll does not provide much consolation for advocates of health care repeal, it does not offer much encouragement for defenders of the status quo on U.S. Israel policy, and it shows that the latest round of whining about Obama’s neglect of some of our Asian-Pacific allies will not resonate with very many people. I’ll address the last point first in this post, and then come back to the others later today.

We see that only 29% disapproved of Obama’s postponement of the trip to Indonesia and Australia to oversee the final stages of the health care voting. Of course, 59% of Republicans disapproved, which just drives home how far removed from the views of the rest of the country most Republicans have become. The particular complaint about the postponed trip is trivial, but it does touch on a seemingly more significant Republican objection, which is their claim that Obama is a domestic policy President who doesn’t care about America’s role in the world. This is nonsense, as even the briefest acquaintance with Obama’s activity over the last year should make clear, but this is what informs their ridiculous essays on American exceptionalism (and Obama’s supposed assault against it) and their newfound concern for the interests and concerns of allies. This can also be found in the recent warnings by Boot and Lowry that hegemony is incompatible with an expansion of domestic entitlement spending and that America is going to have to adopt a “European” foreign policy with all the disastrous results that are supposed to follow from that.

Naturally, Boot and Lowry prefer perpetuating hegemony and not going down the dreaded European path, and they seem to think that the possibility of reduced U.S. power projection and meddling overseas should make Americans more resistant to additional entitlements. However, as Greg observes, what Boot and Lowry are really proposing is that Americans should be more concerned that the U.S. subsidizes the security of other countries, most of them wealthy, productive, self-sufficient democracies, instead of subsidizing other Americans. Like Greg, I think additional entitlements are unwise and unsustainable, but how remarkable it is that the loudest American nationalists and neo-imperialists should so blatantly prioritize the well-being of other countries over that of their fellow citizens while lecturing Obama for his supposed Europeanizing ways.

This is the central and fatal contradiction in modern mainstream conservative thinking on the role and scope of government. They refuse to acknowledge that their foreign policy ambitions are much more modern and out of step with most of American history than the domestic progressive tradition they regularly attack as a foreign import. They seem incapable of recognizing the absurdity of defending the security and warfare state to the hilt while pretending that they are working to preserve a distinctively American political and economic system. The distortions of the former have done as much, if not more, damage to that system as the intrusions of government here at home.