George Bush’s Real Problem

GEORGE BUSH’S REAL PROBLEM….Do people really care whether or not George Bush manipulated intelligence to build a case for war? Bush supporter Emily Sims says no:

“I don’t care about it at all,” says Sims, while her mother and sister nod in agreement, “because we don’t know anything about this [classified] intelligence. We can’t know, as ordinary citizens, and we don’t want to know — it’s scary — and that’s why we have leaders, and they worry about that for us. I trust him to lead. I trust that he’s doing good things in the Oval Office and not bad things, if you know what I mean.

This trust in Bush is clearly at the core of his appeal, but despite Sims’ enthusiasm that trust is slipping. The most dramatic evidence of this is the latest Zogby poll, which asked respondents if they were in favor of re-electing George Bush or electing someone new. In just the past five weeks, Bush’s re-elect number has dropped from 49%-38% ? a delta of +11% ? to 46%-47%, a delta of -1%. That’s a 12 point drop.

Why the dramatic decline? By themselves, the missing WMD and a few mistaken assertions are probably not enough to hurt Bush as long as his supporters continue to think that he was dealing with the American public in good faith. However, “good faith” is the key here, and what can hurt him are the ongoing revelations indicating that he’s been choosing his words a little more carefully than an honest man should need to. More from Zogby:

When asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for President Bush in the next presidential election if weapons of mass destruction are never found, an overwhelming majority (75%) of respondents said it would make no difference. One in five (20%) said they would be less likely to vote for him, and 5% said they would be more likely to support him.

This is important. The 75% who say the WMD doesn’t matter are simply the hardcore Bush supporters and Bush haters. But of that middle 25%, 20% of them say they are less likely to vote for him if the WMD isn’t found. That’s a huge number when you consider that presidential elections are normally decided by only a few percentage points, and my guess is that it’s based as much on questions of Bush’s honesty as it is on the WMD itself.

That growing doubt about Bush’s honesty is what the president’s supporters are really concerned about, and that’s why they pretend to think that Democrats are loons for continuing to press their doubts over George Bush’s trustworthiness. Don’t listen to them.

POSTSCRIPT: Just as a point of curiosity, why do you suppose that 5% of the country says that they would be more likely to vote for Bush if WMD is never found? Does that make any sense?