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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I Rally To The Support Of Doc Drezner

However, I may be obliged to substitute conviction for evidence.

The good doctor violated the Hippocratic Oath, rasing blood pressure and causing heart attacks with this:

...in the Afghanistan war, ...skeptics questioned the wisdom of attacking so soon after 9/11, and called for more boots on the ground when the initial bombing campaign seemed to produce meager results.

His meaning seemed clear to me, but Atrios chipped in with this:

Lately I've seen a lot of people implying that after 9/11 there was substantial opposition to the campaign in Afghanistan.

... there were of course some who questioned the wisdom of winning the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan by bombing the shit out of them, but on what planet was there "considerable public criticism?"

First, as to the matter of George Bush standing tall and staying the course, here are three ABC News polls from Oct., Nov., and Dec of 2001. This is the era of the 90% approval rating, so the poll evidence of serious public skepticsm is not conclusive (well, it is, but I am in denial).

So ignore the polls! I vividly remember the "Afghanistan quagmire" story by Johnny Apple on the front page of the NY Times from Nov 2001. (Ooops, it was a Happy Halloween story). And now I am having too much fun - here is timely, yet timeless wisdom from Ms. Dowd!

I recall, as I presume Dr. D does, that there was a stretch in early November where people questioned whether the bombing could be effective (more troops!), whether we could bomb during Ramadan (Nov 16 to Dec 16), and whether we would be bogged down until spring. However, the dam burst, so for flavor, here is a John Leo "quagmire backlash" piece from Nov. 19.

Comparable pundit angst resurfaced during the second week of the war in Iraq, when we clearly had too few troops, our supply lines were hopelessly over-extended, Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker was reaching for a towel suitable for throwing in, and Josh Marshall was publishing a letter wondering if his readers could spell "Dunkirk".

Last April, as in Nov. 2001, polls did not capture the fickle mood of the commentariat. Only the experts were smart enough to panic - fortunately, Bush, Rumsfeld, and the rest of us were stupid. And still are!

However, in a bit of a change of direction, please join me in gawking for a moment at the Dec 20 poll - where the heck was the Christmas spirit?

I excerpt:

Dec. 20 — Despite the collapse of Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, most Americans believe the toughest work in the war on terrorism is yet to come. And most set a high standard for success: They want not only Osama bin Laden's capture, but the toppling of Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

...it doesn't end there — 61 percent also say the war won't be a success unless the United States ousts Saddam, long a bugaboo in U.S. public opinion. More, 72 percent, support U.S. military action against Iraq to achieve that aim.

Looks like the public was not exactly waiting for the "16 words".

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