The ongoing attempts to distort the record regarding the reasons and supporting evidence for the war in Iraq are occurring in the context of a striking gap between the perceptions of Democratic voters and those of swing voters regarding these matters. Richard Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, documents this “disconnect” in today’s Washington Times. For example, according to Bond, 58 percent of Democrats say that oil was a motive, but 69 percent of swing voters disagree. More than 60 percent of Democrats say that the war was motivated, in part, by a desire to draw attention away from the “failure” to capture bin Laden and the economy. More than 70 percent of swing voters disagree.
Since core Democrats, not swing voters, will determine who the Democrats run for president, the huge gap in perceptions on matters of such importance poses a major problem for the party. Media efforts to discredit the war might, theoretically, help narrow the gap. On the other hand, they might also further enrage hard-core Democrats (if that is possible) without affecting the views of swing voters, thereby causing Democratic contenders to dispense rhetoric that will alienate the voters they will need in November 2004. To the extent that the media efforts depend on obvious or readily demonstrable falsehoods and distortion, the latter scenario becomes, perhaps, the more plausible one.
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