Monday, September 05, 2005


Apparently blanching at the thought of being labeled "weak on security" or "defeatist," Dummycrats are scurrying around, looking for ways to criticize Shrub's "lack of leadership" on Iraq and the conduct of the war - without actually proposing any alternatives. This, they seem to think, is smart politics, as the Washington Post reported last week.
"Credit the Democrats for not trying to pour more gasoline on the fire, even if they're not particularly unified in their message," said Michael McCurry, a former Clinton White House press secretary. "Democrats could jump all over them and try to pin Bush down on it, but I'm not sure it would do anything but make things worse. The smartest thing for Democrats to do is be supportive."

And some argue that Democrats do not need to craft an alternative policy, deeming it better simply to let Bush struggle.
To the extent they have offered an alternative policy, it's been one of declaring Bush a wimp, as the Boston Globe noted earlier last month.
Even Democrats who have been associated with liberal positions on international affairs are calling for more troops in uniform, proposing that threats of force be used to stop nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, and pressing for potential military intervention to ease famine and oppression around the world.

The emerging message among Democrats reflects a recognition that winning congressional and presidential elections in the post-Sept. 11 era requires candidates to establish a willingness to use America's military might and keep the nation safe, according to party leaders and strategists.
Note here that not a single reference is being made to what's a good policy or what's right or wrong, what's actually helpful or damaging to any concept of justice; no, it's all about - overtly about - what wins elections, what's "smart."

And people say the Dims have no core values. I bet they're embarrassed now!

On the other hand, is this "smart politics?" Because of a request for information from an acquaintance, just the other day I was looking at some recent polls, which, taken together, indicate that Americans are increasingly distressed about the war in Iraq, even though they haven't yet come to a clear conclusion as to what to do about it. However, while the "stay the course" 'cause "you break it, you bought it" mentality being embraced by what passes for liberal Democrats these days (e.g., Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry - although he at least can say that he was saying it a year ago) has something of a following, it's not nearly as strong as the Dums seem to think (or want to claim). "Beyond the beltway" is more ticked off about the war than the cowardly politicos of our non-opposition party seem to realize - or want to hear.

For one thing, people consistently say, in one way or another, that it would have been better if the war had never happened:
CBS News poll, August 29-31
- Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out? Should have stayed out, 49% - 45%

CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, August 28-30
- In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not? Mistake, 54% - 46%

ABC News/Washington Post poll, August 25-28
- All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not? Not Worth Fighting, 53% - 46%

Associated Press/Ipsos poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs, August 22-24
- All in all, thinking about how things have gone in Iraq since the United States went to war there in March 2003, do you think the United States made the right decision in going to war in Iraq or made a mistake in going to war in Iraq? Mistake, 53% - 43%
What's more, they're not happy with the results so far:
CBS News poll
- Do you think the result of the war with Iraq was worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq, or not? Not worth it, 61% - 33%

- As a result of U.S. military action against Iraq, do you think the threat of terrorism against the United States has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same? Increased, 40%; Decreased, 16%, Stayed the same, 42%

ABC/Washington Post poll
- Again thinking about the goals versus the costs of the war, so far in your opinion has there been an acceptable or unacceptable number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq? Unacceptable, 68% - 30%

- Do you think the United States is or is not making significant progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq? Is not, 50% - 48%

AP/Ipsos poll
- Has the military action in Iraq increased the threat of terrorism around the world, decreased the threat of terrorism around the world, or had no effect on the threat of terrorism? Increased, 50%; Decreased, 20%; No effect, 28%

The Harris Poll. August 9-16
- Do you think the invasion of Iraq strengthened or weakened the war on terrorism? Weakened, 48% - 44%

- Do you think the invasion of Iraq has helped to protect the United States from another terrorist attack or not? Has not, 58% - 38%

- Do you think the invasion of Iraq, and recent events in Iraq, have made the United States much more respected, somewhat more respected, somewhat less respected, or much less respected around the world? More respected, 27%; Less respected, 68% [Results not further broken down]
When the question becomes where to go from here, opinions become muddier and dissatisfaction turns into some combination of determination, fatalism, and fury. When the AP/Ipsos poll gave people the stark choice of keeping troops in Iraq "until the situation has stabilized" versus bringing them home "immediately," people went for the former by a margin of 60% - 37%. When the ABC/Washington Post poll asked essentially the same question without the word "immediately," sticking it out still was preferred by 54% - 44%. And when that same poll asked if the US should set a deadline for withdrawal (in a question which said "others say" that setting a deadline "would only encourage the anti-government insurgents"), by a margin of 59% - 39% respondents said no.

However, as is often true, a lot seems to depend on how the question is phrased. Harris asked about withdrawing but without characterizing the responses or by suggesting that certain answers were endorsements of certain arguments. The question was "Do you favor keeping a large number of U.S. troops in Iraq until there is a stable government there OR bringing most of our troops home in the next year?" In that case, "bring them home" was the big winner; the margin was 61% - 36%.

What all this adds up to, it seems to me, is that Americans want things to work out for Iraqis, hope things work out, and feel an obligation to help, but want our government to be working on ways to extricate ourselves. While they're unhappy about the casualties, what they really fear is the very real prospect of this just dragging on without accomplishing anything. Thus, they're wary of deadlines but do want the troops out relatively quickly.

That becomes more obvious when people are given more choices. For example, CBS gave people four options about what to do now: increase the number of troops in Iraq, keep the same level, decrease the number, or remove them all. The results were: Increase, 14%; Stay the same, 25%; Decrease, 26%; Remove all, 29%. When CNN/USA Today/Gallup asked essentially the same question about what to do now - and it's important to note that both questions did use the word "now" - the answers came back: More troops, 19%; Same number as now, 26%; Withdraw some of them, 27%; Withdraw all of them, 26%.

The fact that the results match as closely as they do increases confidence that they accurately reflect actual opinion, which means that a definite majority of Americans want at least some troops brought home now. And, operating under the I think entirely reasonable assumption that there is no point to calling for withdrawing some troops now except as a first step leading to subsequent withdrawals, it seems clear that the same majority wants us to get out of Iraq with the only question being over what span of time - and a significant minority is already declaring "Out Now!"

We are the majority. It's an odd feeling.

Meanwhile, the Dums, despite Bush's failings and flailings, can't seem to get much traction with their criticism sans alternative approach; in fact, Congressional Democrats in polls have ranked even lower than Shrub. Maybe they should check this result from the ABC/Washington Post poll:
Do you think Democrats in Congress have gone too far or not far enough in opposing the war in Iraq? Not far enough, 53% - 37%
There's an old saying that "you can't beat somebody with nobody." And for many people, the Dummycrats, quite legitimately, add up to one being goose egg.

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