Monday :: Jun 2, 2003

Do Americans Care About Iraq Difficulties Anymore?


by Steve

On a day when our troops faced fresh threats and new attacks, a new USA Today poll shows how detached from reality the average American is about Iraq.

Most Americans still say things are going reasonably well for the United States in Iraq, despite reports of continued civil disorder there, escalating attacks on American troops and failure to find weapons of mass destruction, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows. Overall, 70% say things in Iraq are going very or moderately well, down from 85% in late April, shortly after the major fighting ended.

The findings suggest that the public is less concerned about the messiness of the Iraq situation than many critics of the Bush administration, including Democratic presidential candidates, who charge that President Bush misled the nation about the severity of the Iraqi threat and failed to adequately plan for the war's aftermath.

"Despite the media coverage of the chaos in Iraq, the public is saying, 'The war is over. We won. We knew that it was going to be messy after the fighting ended. We don't necessarily want to know about it,' " says Andrew Smith, a University of New Hampshire pollster.

Indeed, much of the news coverage over the weekend, while the poll was being taken, focused on continued violence in Iraq and the administration's failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction. At least 10 American servicemembers were killed in ambushes or accidents in the past week.

As the story claims, there has been media coverage of the ongoing difficulties in Iraq. But in looking at the cable news and nightly news shows, I really question whether our TV media has really grabbed many Americans with their coverage and said “folks, our people are still in harm’s way over there.” Instead, CNN and Fox have returned to the expected flood of Laci Peterson coverage, while the major networks cover Bush the Statesman. Yet as the developments of today demonstrate, we seem to be on the verge of a major outbreak of violence in Iraq, especially with Bremer’s decision to welch on the commitment to allow an Iraqi council to select their own leadership.

So is America convinced that all is going well over in Iraq, or do we just not want to be bothered by it anymore? If it is the former, future developments are likely to challenge the public’s current assessments, and with them, their perceptions of Bush’s ability to handle the situation. If it is the latter, then what does it say about our society when we give 60-plus approval ratings to a man who sends other folks’ kids to their deaths on false pretenses and we don’t want to be bothered by it anymore because “we won and it is over?”

Steve :: 11:13 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!