24 July 2007

We Haven't Learned a Goddamn Thing (BR)

I'm in the midst of enjoying my morning coffee at 1:00 PM, as is my custom, and browsing Crooks and Liars to catch up on whatever ass-hattery perpetrated by Team Bush I managed to miss thanks to our species' confounded need for sleep.

A post titled Dems' big advantage on Iraq by Steve Benen reports the results of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, which does indicate a shrinking level of public tolerance for the President's assertion of exclusive dominion over the handling of the war:
Most Americans see President Bush as intransigent on Iraq and prefer that the Democratic-controlled Congress make decisions about a possible withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As the president and Congress spar over war policy, both receive negative marks from the public for their handling of the situation in Iraq. But by a large margin, Americans trust Democrats rather than the president to find a solution to a conflict that remains enormously unpopular. And more than six in 10 in the new poll said Congress should have the final say on when to bring the troops home.
While this is encouraging data for anyone who, like me, favors a withdrawal from Iraq, I can't share in Benen's enthusiasm when he sums it all up this way:
Any Dems who are still worried about how the public might react to Congress forcing Bush’s hand just aren’t paying attention.
This is a popular line of thinking among my fellow Democrats, but it does not ring true to me. Even though Americans of all stripes are growing sick of the war, we are not as gung-ho to end it as we were to invade in the first place.

As if to confirm my skepticism, The New York Times published a separate poll today, showing that popular support for the initial invasion of Iraq has increased seven points since May; a frightening and baffling 42% of our countrymen and -women would go to war all over again today, even knowing everything we know now, even having seen the chaos and death that has ensued.

Another interesting finding in the Times poll is that notwithstanding John Edwards' and Governor Richardson's frequent admonitions regarding how easy it would be to simply cut off the money and force the President to bring the troops home, only eight percent of those polled favor blocking funds as an option. Fully 63 percent say they support fully funding the war with a timetable for withdrawal, but this only illustrates the cluelessness of the electorate about the process and the ground rules of the debate.

It's a bit like someone stating his support for being fed cheesecake by five nude models. It's a nice idea, but it speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of how things work in the real world.

I'm not as heartened by the vox populi today as some of my friends, and I see the Democrats' hedging as fairly standard political maneuvering. If a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq precipitates an escalation of the current civil war into full-fledged genocide, or turns the country into a safe haven for Islamist groups with aspirations to global terror -- two very real possibilities -- it will be determined to have been the Democrats' fault.

More to the point, nowhere in these poll results do I see a people that has learned anything from this horrendous botch-job of a war. There may be sympathy toward the de facto "peace" party, but there's nothing that would identify a solid majority in favor of military restraint, robust diplomacy, or non-interventionism. If anything, I see a nation increasingly protective of its prerogative to screw up just as badly in the future.

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