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Another Poll Finds Bush Sinking

"Gallup asked the public to assess whether the United States made a 'mistake' in sending troops into Vietnam, and has asked the same question since March 2003 about Iraq. Gallup consistently asked Americans to name the 'most important problem' facing the country during the years of both conflicts, and to evaluate how the presidents involved were handling both war situations.

"The bottom line: Americans were much quicker to consider the Vietnam War to be a major problem facing the country than has been the case for the Iraq war. But at the same time, a majority of Americans began to call Iraq a 'mistake' within about a year and three months of its beginning, while it took over three years for a majority to call Vietnam a mistake. Lyndon Johnson's job approval ratings for handling Vietnam dropped to lower levels than has been the case -- so far -- for George W. Bush."

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Fighting Back -- and Mischaracterizing His Critics

Bush took 10 minutes away from biking and boating at a Utah resort yesterday to step before the microphones. The first question he faced from reporters, not surprisingly, was about war protester and grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.

Here's the text of his remarks.

"I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake," Bush said. "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be -- are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States. So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn't represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I'll continue to meet with families."

But as several media reports pointed out this morning, critics of the Iraq war are not advocating an immediate withdrawal from the greater Middle East. And many are not even calling for an immediate pullout from Iraq. Rather, they are asking for a specific plan to bring the troops home, and maybe an acknowledgement of error.

Olivier Knox of Agence France Presse writes: "President George W. Bush painted demonstrators seeking a speedy US withdrawal from Iraq as dangerous isolationists, but one protesting widow said she just wants answers. . . .

"At an anti-war rally in downtown Boise, Melanie House clutched her gurgling eight-month-old son James, his tiny white T-shirt emblazoned with a photograph of a father he will never know, and quietly disputed the president.

" 'My reaction is, why are we there in the first place? I'll always be in support of the troops. I don't feel like what I'm doing, saying, speaking out, weakens anything,' she said with James squirming happily in her arms.

" 'I want the troops home, and I want the president to tell me why my husband had to go to Iraq, and why I had to become a widow at age 26, and why my son will never meet his daddy,' House told reporters."

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "President Bush said Tuesday that war protesters like Cindy Sheehan who want an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq 'are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States,' and that Ms. Sheehan did not represent the views of other military families he had met.

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