National Journal reports: When President Obama announced his long-awaited reforms to the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program, it was met by a collective yawn. It was the Friday before a holiday weekend, and not many Americans were listening. Those who were were finding it difficult.
Fifty percent of Americans have heard nothing about the president’s proposals, and 41 percent said they’d heard just a little, according to a new Pew Research Center/USA Today poll. Taken together the numbers mean that nine out of 10 citizens had little interest in what Obama had to say following six months of heated policy debate in Washington.
It’s not that the issue isn’t important (the poll also found 53 percent of respondents disapprove of the government’s bulk collection practices around Internet and telephone metadata), but that something was missing—an element that would capture the imagination of Americans and allow them to pay attention to an important (wonky!) area of policy.
In his speech, Obama stuck to policy, avoiding nearly all talk of controversial leaker Edward Snowden. “I am not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations,” Obama said. That, perhaps, is where he lost much of America. The question of whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a villian has been a favorite debate topic of Americans since news of the survellaince program first broke in June. [Continue reading…]