Public Opinion

PUBLIC OPINION….Is a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush’s “surge” really just a meaningless bit of preening from antiwar forces? If so, why are Republicans so single-mindedly trying to keep it from a vote? E.J. Dionne explains:

They know, as the war’s opponents should, that in a democracy whose constitution accords so much power to the president, turning around even a failed war policy takes time, persuasion, organizing, legislative strategizing and pressure.

The impatience of the administration’s critics is entirely understandable. But it would be a shame if impatience got in the way of a sensible long-term strategy to bring America’s engagement in this war to as decent an end as possible as quickly as possible — even if not as quickly as they’d like. The anti-surge resolution is a necessary first step, which is why those who are against a genuine change in our Iraq policy are fighting so hard to stop it.

Yep. This is all about public opinion, and war supporters know it. Right now, the debate over these resolutions is nearly invisible to most people. We political junkies are following it, but virtually nobody else is.

But if a resolution passes, and the result is newspapers and evening news shows running big stories headlined “Senate Votes to Oppose Surge” — well, that will get noticed by a big chunk of the country that currently has no idea what’s going on. We bloggers and blog readers may not be attuned to much of anything outside our own activist circles, but members of Congress sure are, and they know exactly what impact a successful resolution would have on dinner table conversations in their districts. All the maneuvering, all the rhetoric, all the parliamentary kabuki, it’s all designed to avoid that one headline. That’s why the resolution is important even though it has no legally binding impact: public opinion, baby, public opinion.