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July 09, 2005


If even Bush strategists are getting nervous, that says something. On WASHINGTON WEEK IN REVIEW last night, there was a general consensus that the war in Iraq is serving as a recruiting tool and training ground for al-Queda types. If that becomes an acceptable truth to state in public - and we should do all we can to see that it does - that is majorly bad news for Bush.

Also, there was an interesting throwaway line in "Today's Papers" this morning at SLATE:

"British sentiment increasingly blames the attacks on Tony Blair's support for Bush, the Iraq war, and the war on terror."

The image of the Brits is anything but fish & chips eating surrender monkeys - if there is backlash in Britain over the Iraq war making things worse rather than better, the influence will be felt over here as well.

-- Rick Robinson

It will be interesting to see how long this domestic tenuto actually ends up being. There was a key moment the other night on the local PBS news round-up (called 'Chicago Tonight'). It was a panel discussion with a couple of congressmen and a U of Chicago prof named Robert Pape who has written a book documenting/cataloging every single suicide attack everywhere since 1980 called 'Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism'. He asserted that the Iraq war has made us less safe; he also said that the jihadis do have actual political goals, and don't simply 'hate us for our freedom', pointing out that in the most theocratic ME state of all - Iran - there is no Al Queda at all.

10th district hack congressman Mark Kirk summed up, in a way, the lame administration terror 'policy' by immediately frothing something like: 'Oh, how can you say Iran is not a terrorist country?!! They've sponsored terror for years...etc.' (even the normally pliant host was compelled to say 'hey, wait a minute, he didn't say...') Here the professor was trying to make a serious point, in an attempt to actually understand an enemy, and this congressional pygmy was at the ready with the party line: deliberately mislead, conflate all terrorism, knock Iran.

The Bush administration policy has largely been to deliberately, willfully, NOT UNDERSTAND our enemy. One of these days, Americans are going to get pissed off about it. I hope it doesn't take a bunch more attacks to make that happen.

The unstated part of Rick's comment above is this: British public opinion, given the stoic UK national character and it's resilience to years of terrorism, probably has fairly comparable post 9-11 psychological dynamics as the U.S today.

So I think the surprisingly cautious statements by the GOP officials here are probably on the optimistic side. It must be very tense inside the White House these days. But that George can handle it, he's resolute.

George can handle it, he's resolute.

He didn't look so hot when Blair was speaking and he had to stand behind silent.

That pic/video was widely broadcast.

the war in Iraq is serving as a recruiting tool and training ground for al-Queda types. If that becomes an acceptable truth to state in public....

Yeah, I watched the Night of the Living Dead last night, too (don't know why I torture myself). It is mordantly funny to see the actual panic in the eyes of these 'insiders' when Conventional Wisdom is breached in any way. With the truth Rick mentions and discussion of J. Miller in jail, there was no laughing banter by the end of the show - and it wasn't out of respect for the victims in London.

Yes, it's a sign of something or other when this bellweather mediocrity changes CW, or allows something new in, despite the fact that not very many people watch it...who's next?

I agree with Crag Nebula.

From trolling CNN and MSNBC the last couple of days (and assuming they're in contact with the Administration), I get the impression the Administration is very wary about giving a lot of play to "Al Qaeda did it", since the obvious next question (which was asked by lots of people over the last couple of days)is, "why haven't you caught bin Laden?"

At the same time, it did appear last night that the media courtiers have been encoruaged to speculate that al Zarqawi may be behind the London attacks. If this becomes the meme, then the Bush Administration can argue that the U.S. military is doing the right thing staying in Iraq because that's where the bad guys attacking us are and "we" need to wipe them out.

So anything that ties the attacks to people in Afghanistan hurts the Administration and anything that ties it to the specific people the U.S. is fighting right now in Iraq helps the Administration.

But if it turns out the attacks were by homegrown British terrorists, how does that affect the Bush Administration's political fortunes?

Crab Nebula - yep, you stated what I didn't: The Brits have a "rally 'round" attitude when attacked. Moreover, Blair is far better at channeling Winston Churchill than Bush is. If the Brits become deeply skeptical, will Americans be all that far behind?

kaleidescope - We may be getting near the point where even tying it to al-Zarqawi may not be helpful to Bush. The "flypaper" theory is, to put it mildly, not working out so well.

-- Rick Robinson

Tying it to al-Zarqawi just invites more stories about how the military wanted to get al-Zarqawi but the Bushies were afraid it would undermine their rationale for going to war.

Perhaps they are also justifiably worried that calling a new terror alert won't do anything for them. They seem to be running out of ideas.

BTW, there was a somewhat humorous story in the SF Chronicle a day or so ago about an upcoming "tour" of Iraq by a bunch of conservative talk-show hosts. They were going to uncover the "real" story that the "liberal" MSM has not been covering. The local angle was that a local banshee named Melanie Morgan is going on the tour. She was quoted as saying that she hoped to elude her military minders and get out and "talk with the people."

My partner and I were talking last night while driving in the City about how these days every motorist and pedestrian seems to be living on his or her own private planet. Melanie Morgan proves that it is true of talk-show hosts as well. I look forward to hearing their reports.

When will we know if Bush has gotten a bounce in the polls from this? I will still be surprised if he does.

But I learned more than a few years ago that I am not in the mainstream. Too much of that dangerous liberal education, I suppose, the kind where you learn how to make up your own mind about things!

Mimikatz - is it excessively evil of me to think what would happen to Melanie Morgan if she did indeed elude her babysitters and "talk with the people?"

For that matter, does she speak Arabic? Does she expect a translator to share her adventure? Or does she assume that "the people" worth talking to in Baghdad know English?

Meanwhile, a post over at TPM Cafe shows that the Heritage Foundation crowd is still blathering about "state sponsors." I wish they'd go back to their alternate universe and stay there.

-- Rick Robinson

re any Bush bounce, we'll see tuesday... the gallup poll will be out and rasmussen's tracking poll (Today approve 51 disapprove 48 + 3) will have gathered post-bombing data.

Bush's post-9/11 "strength" on the issue of terrorism is very dependent upon emotions leftover from the rally-around the leader effect immediately after 9/11.

Remember that in politics, emotions very often triumph over logic.

Those facts, logic, and just quantitative data that doesn't match up with the Dubya & Cronies rhetoric take a LONG time to sink in and overcome the emotions.

We started seeing it a month or two ago. This is a reprieve, but when the news coverage is less-London-centric again, the approvals will dip down again.

Also, it'd be interesting to see if those who went from unsure to approval or from disapproval to approval are of the "somewhat approve" variety.

I don't think most media polls use a scale (strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, and strongly disapprove), but internal polls would use some kind of scale.

Do people say they approve just because that's what they feel they should say... or is it how they truly feel? You can't just ask that straight out as a poll question, but through a series of questions or focus groups, you could probably gauge what the thinking is there.

I don't think most media polls use a scale (strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, and strongly disapprove), but internal polls would use some kind of scale.

WaPo does, as does Rasmussen:

Job Approval 7/9/05

Approve Strongly 28
Approve Somewhat 23
Disapprove Somewhat 13
Disapprove Strongly 35

Newsie, I think it's safe to say that there are many, many different definitions of "approval" that the public uses when saying yes or no to that question in a poll.

And I'd be surprised if there was no bump for Bush. People feel the need to go along and not question so much when under stress. But like the GOP guy quoted up top, it should evaporate.

Thanks, DemFromCT. Those numbers just aren't typically reported.

The approve somewhat and disapprove strongly are the ones that really jump out at me.

Those approve somewhats are the ones we have to go after. Those in approve strongly are hopeless.

Gallup poll shows serious troubles.

Bush's approvals went up a bit - at 49 to 48 disapprove, but his Iraq War numbers have taken a significant hit.

Now only 40% of the public think the Iraq War made us more safe, versus 54% who think it made us less safe. This in particular represents a big swing. The numbers in the previous poll were 44% who thought it made the US safer and 39% who think it did not.

Only 44% think the war was right, versus 54% who think it was wrong.

Link, Scroll Down in the story

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