. . . Wednesday December 22, 2004

Maybe This Really Isn’t Going Well

Kevin Drum offers this take about a recent Washington Post poll that suggests we are increasingly negative on that whole war in Iraq. The Post writer wonders why we have less faith in W now than we did a few months ago when things were equally dismal. Drum answers:

The longer the war goes on inconclusively, the less support it has. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise either. The eggheads in the blogosphere might have dozens of explanations for why they think the war was a good idea, but the average joe supported it because he wanted to kick someone’s ass after 9/11, and Saddam’s ass seemed like a pretty good one to kick. So now that Saddam is gone, why are we still there and why are those ungrateful Iraqis still giving us trouble?

What’s more, there are no WMDs, no al-Qaeda camps, and no democracy. But there is a continuing insurgency, frequent terror attacks, the same old Islamic infighting, American soldiers getting killed and wounded by the thousands, and no real hope that it’s going to get any better — even though the administration keeps suggesting that the next operation will settle things down for sure. At this point, though, the only operation left is the January election, and when the attacks keep coming even after the elections are over — as they surely will — American disgust with the whole war effort will undoubtedly jump up again.

That’s part of the story. But I think there is something more to this trend and it has to do with elections.

Americans are so focused on game of politics and the associated strategies, that elections themselves offer serve as a break from, rather than a period to focus on, the real issues.

Let me explain.

When elections are in full effect, voters remind themselves to take everything with a grain of salt. So all of those negative stories out of Iraq were partly viewed as efforts by Kerry or left leaning columnists to turn the public away from the incumbent.

But now the election is over. There is no perception of a hidden motivation to only share bad news about the war. And yet, it turns out the news is just as negative if not more so. The news out of Iraq is not bad because John Kerry says it’s bad. It’s just bad.

The irony here is that many Americans will only now – as we head into a second term – realize that the administration’s Iraq policy has been an outrageous failure.

Concentration is important!