As Obama weighs difficult choices in Afghanistan, the public also appears to be finding it difficult to judge the merits of different options for expanding, maintaining or contracting the U.S. effort on that front.
Coverage of health care was up last week, the economy was down and the war in Afghanistan remained about the same. But together, this trio continued their run atop the news agenda, a pattern we began to see settle in earlier this fall.
Afghanistan President Harmid Karzai has been much in the news lately, but he still trails far behind the top newsmaker among overseas leaders this year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The economic crisis topped the news agenda last week as Wall Street pay packages triggered anger and action in Washington. Agreement on a runoff election also generated a spike in Afghanistan coverage, and hostilities between the White House and Fox News made the roster of top stories.
Just half of Americans favor keeping troops in Afghanistan, down from 57% in June.
It was a war that often had trouble breaking into the headlines. But in recent months, with President Obama facing a crucial decision over whether to escalate U.S. involvement, coverage of Afghanistan increased noticeably. And last week, as the policy debate intensified, the story dominated finally the news.
Health care and the economy generated coverage last week, but the news agenda highlighted three geopolitical problems facing President Obama—negotiating with Iran, fighting in Afghanistan and trying to convince the IOC to bring the Olympics to the U.S.
Bloggers last week returned to two issues that generated interest in recent weeks. For the second time in a month, Afghanistan led the news in the blogosphere. And musician Dave Matthews sparked a second round of heated online debate with some comments about racism. On Twitter, for this week at least, the focus moved beyond Twitter itself.
Publics in all seven NATO countries polled disapproved of President Obama’s original decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
America’s ratings have risen north of the border, but differences persist over Afghanistan and U.S. economic influence