I’m not sure how meaningful these insta-polls are when they are taken in the midst of a fresh scandal. Does the average American have nearly enough of the facts to begin to form an official opinion on such issues as whether Rumsfeld should keep his job? Could the average American even be expected to absorb the few facts we have surrounding this issue during the week of the Friends finale?
Was the abuse isolated or widespread? Which higher-up gave the orders? Unfortunately, I have no friggin’ idea is rarely a box one can check in these polls.
But there is at least one very interesting piece of data in the latest Washington Post – ABC poll. Forty percent of those surveyed faulted the administration for not moving quickly enough to deal with the prison abuses. But the same percentage of respondents did not think the administration moved too slowly.
Let’s think about this for a minute. President Bush was reportedly furious that he wasn’t made aware of the seriousness of the prison abuses. Donald Rumsfeld took responsibility for not conveying the gravity of the situation to the President and Congress. The Taguba Report was in circulation for weeks before this story (with the help of the pictures) exploded.
Everyone agrees that the administration didn’t respond in a timely manner. The administration agrees that the administration didn’t move quickly enough. Even in those rare moments when everyone in DC is saying the same thing, we remain a nation divided by partisanship, our frontal lobes set in concrete.
And it’s become blind partisan thinking. We’ve take the idea out of ideology. All that’s left is the id, a knee-jerk instinct to disagree with the other side regardless of facts.