The Public Ain't Buying
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; 12:48 PM
Last week's Petraeus-Bush razzle-dazzle seems to have worked its magic inside the Beltway. The American public is not so easily confused.
The general's good-news report from Iraq and the president's token troop-withdrawal plan dampened the growing sense of urgency in Washington to get out of Iraq.
Yet the facts on the ground in Iraq haven't fundamentally changed. And neither -- according to a slew of new polls -- have the views of the American people. They still want to bring the troops home. Soon. All of them.
Susan Page writes in USA Today: "A plurality of Americans say Gen. David Petraeus' proposal to begin withdrawing some U.S. forces from Iraq is on the right track, but his long-awaited testimony to Congress last week failed to change fundamental attitudes toward the war.
"A USA Today/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday found essentially no shift in views on whether U.S. forces are likely to win the war -- two-thirds predict they won't. . . .
"In the days before Petraeus' appearances and President Bush's speech to the nation last week, 60% supported setting a timetable for withdrawal and sticking to it 'regardless of what is going on in Iraq at the time.' Now 59% do.
"'In terms of public opinion, it seems like Petraeus didn't really change anyone's mind,' says Christian Grose, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University who studies the impact of the war on voting behavior. 'He may have bought the president some time in Washington ... but not in the public's eyes.'"
Here are more results from Gallup.
A CBS News poll I mentioned yesterday found that the public still overwhelmingly opposes keeping any troops in Iraq longer than two years. And the percentage who feel the surge had "made things better" actually declined, to 31 percent from 35 percent a week earlier.
As Peter Grier writes in the Christian Science Monitor: "The American public long ago reached a verdict regarding Iraq, and, for the Bush administration, it isn't a reassuring one."
A new Pew Research Center poll finds: "Last week's congressional testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, followed by President Bush's address to the nation, has not changed bottom-line public attitudes toward the war in Iraq. . . .
"Opinion about whether to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq has remained stable for most of this year. Currently, 54% support a troop withdrawal, which is virtually unchanged from measures dating back to February."