Is Barack Obama–Gasp!-Good for America?

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One of the steady themes conservative bloggers and pundits like to return to is the argument that President Obama likes talking smack about America, or at least that he feels like he has to apologize for his homeland whenever he travels overseas. As columnist Charles Krauthammer asked on Fox News after Obama’s appearance before the United Nations, “What do our allies think when they hear that and when they hear . . . Obama denigrating his own country and presenting himself as the man who will redeem America from its wickedness?”

Well, that’s one question to ask. But the answer, at least as told through public opinion polls, might come as a surprise to Krauthammer. Whatever Obama is doing does seem, after all, to be having an effect. This morning, the White House circulated an independent poll showing that global admiration for the United States brand has risen considerably in the last year. “What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009,” explains Simon Anholt, the founder of the Nation Brands Index, which measures the global image of 50 countries.

Last year, the United States ranked seventh, behind Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and–damn you Berlusconi!–Italy. This year the U.S. ranked first. Perhaps a little apology/self-reflection/change-in-leadership/outreach goes a long way. Methodology and full 2009 results after the jump.

The survey itself included 20,000 respondents from 20 countries, and was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. As the press release explains:

The NBI is based on a global survey in which people from across 20 major developed and developing countries are asked to rate each nation in six categories: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment. The NBI ranking is based on the average of these six scores.

The Top Ten rankings, according to the survey, are now:

1. United States

2. France

3. Germany

4. United Kingdom

5. Japan

6. Italy

7. Canada

8. Switzerland

9. Australia

10. Spain and Sweden (tie)