IS THE TIDE TURNING?….I’ve been mildly surprised that reaction to President Bush’s speech last Sunday was so negative, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. After all, I never bought into one of the primary themes of the hawkish blogosphere, namely that Bush has been saying all along that this would be a long, hard struggle and everyone knew it. Like the devil quoting scripture, they could pull out individual quotes here and there to back themselves up, but it always struck me that the overall impression that Bush and his advisors gave the country was that this would be a short war, the troops would be greeted as liberators, and we would be able to pull out fairly quickly.
Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure what the “impression” of the public is (or was), but it sure looks like the public was taken by surprise by Bush’s request for $87 billion, an amount that’s worth little more than a yawn by the standards of modern government:
A majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush’s request to Congress for an additional $87 billion to fund military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year, amid growing doubts about the administration’s policies at home and abroad, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Six in 10 Americans said they do not support the proposal, which the president announced in his nationally televised address last Sunday night. That marks the most significant public rejection of a Bush initiative on national security or terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In a funny way, this answers another question I’ve been mulling over for some time: why did the Bush administration sell the war the way they did? The fact is that they exaggerated the threat, they oversold the WMD, they lied about al-Qaeda connections, and it all seemed so pointless to me. I figured the American public would have supported the war even if the case had been made honestly, so why the PR job? Was it just to keep in practice?
This starts to answer the question: the Bushies are smarter than me. In fact, the public probably wouldn’t have supported the war if the case had been more honest and restrained, so their instincts were right. They wanted this war, and if they had told the truth about what it would cost and how long it would take, they probably wouldn’t have gotten it.