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Who Do You Trust on Iraq?

Here's a couple of interesting results from the Newsweek poll I discussed yesterday. Only 30 percent say the US military action in Iraq has decreased the risk that large numbers of Americans will be killed or injured in a future terrorist attack. That compares to 63 percent who say either the risk has increased (36 percent) or hasn't changed at all (27 percent).

Yet the same poll finds Bush favored over Kerry (53 percent to 38 percent) on handling the situation in Iraq.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Comments

What's to wonder about regarding the fact that Bush's numbers on national security are better than Kerry's?

The last two Democratic presidents, Carter and Clinton, were loath to use force or even talk about the use of force with respect to the Soviet Union or terrorism. Not surprisingly, the American people have tilted towards the GOP on national security because Republican presidents were not finicky about the use of force or calling for more armaments on a continuous basis.

If we are going to be engaged in a long twilight struggle against the terrorism of radical Islam, and it would appear that we are for the foreseeable future, then the democratic party and its standard bearers are going to have to use a different kind of language and style to persuade the American people that they are up to the job of keeping everyone safe.

BushI ran against Dukakis while the Cold War was still in its last stages. We know the outcome. Bill Clinton ran against BushI at the end of the Cold War and during a weak economy. We know what happened there. Now we have BushII running against Kerry during a weak economy and a nasty struggle against a shadowy terror network.

If Kerry expects to win he's got to show first that he has the spine to tear into Bush on his national security failures and present, with the help of surrogates, a credible plan of action against terrorism. One more week like the last one and Kerry will be toast.

Large numbers of people are fatalistic about a “future terror attack”, but believe Bush is doing the best job possible of protecting the country. People want a leader who is focused and doesn’t take any crap off of anyone. Bush has placed his bets on his status as that leader: a steadfast “war president” protecting the country no matter who wants to appease the terrorists and turn over the country to the UN. Richard Clarke delivered a body blow to that position this week, and that is why the Administration has all guns blazing in a counter attack. If voters can be convinced that Bush experienced 9/11 and STILL ignored Al Qaeda in favor of a pre-determined attack on Iraq---all bets are off. Much like Kennedy’s “missile gap” issue in 1960, Kerry needs to run to the right of Bush on terrorism. Because of Clarke, it’s an easy thing to do.

To win this coming election we absolutely have to see "Trust in Bush on Terrorism, etc.) driven down in the polls. I think this is basic -- how to do it is the question.

One contradiction jumps out at me after a day of reading and watching the post Clarke commentary, and that is the matter of whether Iraq is part of "war on terrorism" or is it distinct? Apparently at least 50% still hang with the belief in a strong link.

So how to break this link? Clarke offers us the story of Bush trying to bully him on 9/12 into providing intelligence that supports the belief in a link. They tried to dismiss that bullying -- but there were witnesses and they had to back down a mite.

But Bully the intelligence gatherers and analyists became the principle mode of operation come Iraq time. Even to the extent of destroying operations and trying to smear Plame and Wilson, because they were in the way of the bully.

Something tells me this is the story that just might work with that 50% who still "Trust" on Nat Security and War on Terrorism matters. The image of Bush as Bully when faced with evidence that disagrees with his pre-determined world view might just knock down some of these approval points.

It's not at all surprising that the public trusts Bush more than Kerry on Iraq. Kerry hasn't told the American public how he would deal with Iraq. He hasn't even begun to present himself as the "steady reassuring presence" that he needs to be on Iraq, the military, and terrorism.

When it's a matter of life and death, the devil you know is better than the one you don't.

Cheney told Limbaugh yesterday that Clarke was out of the loop on anti-terrorism policy. Yet Rice ceded leadership of the response to the crisis on 9/11 to Clarke. If Cheney was being truthful wouldn't Rice's decision be a criminally reckless thing to do?

I don't know if Kerry has offered much of substance about what he would do to combat terrorism or in Iraq but I agree that if he has done so he is not being heard clearly.

He needs to be heard clearly soon. There aren't going to be lots more Richard Clarkes coming down the pike handing him the national security issue on a silver platter. Kerry I believe is very much up to offering the country the reassurance that he would be a far steadier and more trustworthy Commander in Chief. He needs to step up--now--and do it.

A followup thought: Hillary Clinton has quietly given some excellent, constructive speeches on foreign policy in the last few months. She has come off as serious and substantive, and not a cheapshot artist.

The major speech Kerry needs to give in the next day or two should be along the same lines. If he does so in a constructive tone he'll help establish himself as commanding and reassuring among some of the persuadables who are still preferring Bush on Iraq and national security. He'll also entitle himself to a few tastefully worded whacks at the Administration in so doing.

Surrogates and pundits will take the harder shots in case the implications of Kerry's speech aren't crystal clear to everyone.

Never underestimate the soft bigotry of low expectations coming from the nitwits for W.

Right now, these polls indicate that people will still go with the devil they know over someone they don't. John Kerry needs to aggressively define himself, before George Bush does that for him.

Did Kerry's entire campaign decide to go skiing with him in Idaho? The lack of any discernable response to the recent Bush onslaught sure makes one think so.

Hopefully, that's going to be a one-time anomaly.

It's all about "the devil you know." If Kerry can move past the stigma of "the devil you don't know," he's in. As you have pointed out numerous times, Bush's support is melting like lake ice on a spring day. A little more heat and, voila'!

I'm not sure the aim of simply "eroding" Bush's support on Iraq is a responsible position. Shouldn't the facts be mroe important. On that question of facts, I will cop to being one of these "nitwits" who do believe in an Iraqi connection to 911. What about Salman Pak? Google that and see what you find. What about the civil verdict that held Iraq liable for 911 damages? Was that a vapor? What about the Iraqi connections to WTC1, which are hardly in dispute to Richard Clarke, to name one. Maybe when the Democrats honestly engage the debate, their stock on national securty issues will rise.