*Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush’s job performance and the way he has run the war.
*Among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost.
*Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or “right away.”
There are a few things wrong with this. Most importantly — and misleadingly — the LAT poll did not exclusively query members of the U.S. military. The fine print says:
Included are 631 military family members and 152 respondents who are serving or have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or who have family members who have done so. … The margin of sampling error for all adults is plus or minus 3 percentage points; for military families, it is 4 percentage points; for military families who served in Iraq, it is 8 percentage points. For certain sub-groups, the error margin may be somewhat higher.
My emphasis, of course.
Now, I’m not trying to spin this poll around the other way and say these are good numbers for Bush; they’re not. Even if just half of military families disapprove of the president, that speaks poorly of his leadership. I am not even saying that family members think that Iraq was a good idea or would support a war that continues indefinitely. Nobody wants to keep large numbers of troops there longer than necessary.
What I am saying, however, is that the poll is far from definitive, with an MoE north of 8 percent in the critical group, and it certainly shouldn’t be mistaken for a poll of “the troops.” Even taken at face value, the results are more nuanced than Blue Texan — or even the LAT — make it sound. If you combine “bring home within the next year” and “Stay as long as it takes,” you likewise get around 70 percent. Considering the reduced violence in Iraq since the so-caleld surge, withdrawal upon an acceptable situation and withdrawal in a year are not mutually exclusive. That may or not be not be realistic, but it’s not unreasonable to think that may be what some meant. Not that Blue Texan was keeping an open mind about it.
Nor do I think Blue Texan read it all that closely; the FDL post actually seems more of a screed against conservative bloggers activists than Bush or even the war:
One of the most disgraceful tactics of the pro-Bush right is the way they’ve exploited the troops politically. … And they’re still doing it. Loyal Troop Bush Supporter Glenn Reynolds, who’s practically made a career linking to garbage like this, just called the TV ad promoting Freedom’s Watch — a right-wing partisan neocon slush fund — a “pro-troops” ad.
Watch the Freedom’s Watch ad for yourself; it is unequivocally a pro-troops advertisement, free of any political content. It does not mention Iraq or Afghanistan, only that some members are away from their families right now — but this is true of those merely stationed abroad in Europe or East Asia. Heck, the organization might even be a “right-wing partisan neocon slush fund” — the wording is all subjectively negative — but it doesn’t change the ad’s content.
And that subjectivity betrays the fact that in fact Blue Texan is the one politicizing the troops, and from the boggled mindset that considers a yellow ribbon on the back of a city vehicle a political statement. One wonders if they believe that personally thanking a member of the armed forces for their service while the Iraq war continues is also a de facto expression of support for the Republican party. Even if not, one wonders why they would willingly cede so much ground.
But even without any poll analysis, Blue Texan loses all credibility — and the anti-war netroots reveal their arrogance — with the extreme rhetoric. Hate is a strong word. The LAT poll most certainly shows disappointment and disapproval of President Bush and the war, but at no point did this poll — or any other one that I’ve seen — ask whether they “hate” Bush or the war.
Since the Iraq war turned unpopular, anti-war bloggers have been claiming that the American public agrees whole-heartedly with them. This opinion surely led to their surprise at John Kerry’s loss in 2004. This probably also explains much of their frustration now that Democrats control Congress but can’t end the war. They might be less distressed if they didn’t think the American public was in lockstep with their thinking.
I’d really like a respectable pollster to ask the question: “Do you hate President Bush?” Pollsters usually stick to cautious wording like “right track/wrong direction” and “approve/disapprove” — which makes it possible to compare questions over time — but just once, I wish they would measure the extent of this disapproval.
Heck, the netroots themselves have paid for their own polls before. Why not ask? Probably because they know the answer would be disappoint them. They might even hate it. But it would also save them some trouble.
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