THE PUBLIC AND THE WAR….A Washington Post poll reports today that support for President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war has dropped precipitously. David Adesnik wonders why?

I have to admit I’m somewhat puzzled by the numbers. Why were the American public so much more confident [in] Bush on election day? The media have generally presented the post-election battle in Fallujah as victory for our side….Steve Sturm’s take on all of this is that America supported the first Iraq war (to get rid of Saddam’s WMDs) but not the second (to promote democracy in Iraq).

I really don’t think you have to look very far for the explanation. Take a look at the chart below, which shows the number of people who think the Iraq war was “worth fighting” ever since the end of major combat operations last May. There are the usual spikes here and there, but basically it’s a pretty straight line. 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.

Conservatives seem to think that Americans like wars. They don’t. They like winning wars. As it becomes ever clearer that Bush doesn’t have a winning strategy in Iraq, support continues to drop. It’s pretty easy to understand.

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