The Ham Hock of Liberty

Monday, August 14, 2006


A new CBS poll is out today, showing W's approval ratings hanging steady at a moribund 36%. The article about the poll concludes with this shocking realization: "The arrests in Britain have not helped President Bush's popularity so far, the CBS poll finds. His job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago."

How could this be?? How is it possible that the arrests of terrorist suspects in London, which has no relevance or relationship to W's job performance, could fail to improve his job performance rating? Surely, the "terror bounce" we've been hearing about for days couldn't be just the breathless anticipation of hyperventilating pundits, could it...? COULD IT?!?

Well, of course it was. But to be fair, it was a reasonable guess; after all, whenever terrorism has dominated a news cycle in the past, it has helped W's numbers nudge slightly upwards. However, it's a testament to how internalized the administration's exploitation of fear has become, that when British intelligence agents discover a criminal conspiracy, the old media just assume it's good news for the President, even though there's no logical reason whatsoever why it should be. Why is the mere reminder that criminals still exist good news for Republicans? It's not like everyone in the country forgot. And unless you count strawmen at the most unhinged reactionary blogs, it's not as though Democrats are claiming that terrorism no longer exists. If anything, the apprehension of the latest suspects should be good news for Democrats, demonstrating that terrorism can be interrupted through intelligence and policing, rather than blowing shit up.

Unfortunately, we're going to be treated to this same insightful "analysis" until the sun burns out. Our "War on Terror" is going to be about as successful as the "War" on drugs. Secular democracy will not flower in the mid-east at the end of a gun, and we can not bomb our way to safety over there. No matter how many excellent regime-changing adventures we have, terrorists will continue to exist. Some of them will want to direct their energies against the United States. And because the professional opinion-givers in the country have unquestioningly swallowed the rule that fear is good for Republicans, we will hear the same script being read every time a new terrorist suspect is identified. What we'll hear a lot less of, is whether anything the GOP does is actually related to the apprehension of the suspect.

Fortunately, as the CBS poll suggests, the electorate may be managing to notice the disconnect, despite the best efforts of the fear peddlers.