Perhaps the New York Times should have waited one more day before running an article questioning whether President Barack Obama is "a wimp or a warrior."
The morning after the paper led a story in its Week in Review section by noting that: "like every Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, President Obama is battling the perception that he's a wimp on national security," CNN actually polled a subset of the issue. And the results seemed to dispel the notion that the topic is hotly debated.
According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents approved of the way Obama had responded to the botched Christmas airliner attack, with 39 percent disapproving of how he handled the situation. Fifty-five percent of Independents approved of how he handled the situation.
The numbers are only a measurement of public sentiment on Obama's handling of a single incident. And it's likely they'd be different if the survey was broadened to encompass the White House's broader approach to national security. That said the problem for the NYT article seems to be that the frame is wrong. Rather than concerning themselves with strength -- as conventional wisdom holds -- the public seems more interested in competence. They also seem to be more resigned to the fact that a muscular foreign policy isn't the panacea that was promised during the Bush years.
Sixty-percent of respondents said, in the same CNN poll, that they believed terrorists would always find a way to launch a major attack no matter what the U.S. government does, with only 39 percent saying they thought the government could prevent attacks.