Is there a future in defeatism?

A Harris poll shows that positive sentiment about the war in Iraq is growing slowly but steadily. The number of Americans who believe things are getting better for U.S. troops has risen from 13 percent in March and 20 percent in August to 25 percent now. The percentage of those who say things are getting worse for our troops has declined from 51 percent in March to 32 percent now.
There is also movement on the question of whether taking military action in Iraq was the right move. Two years ago, Harris found that, by a 53-34 split, Americans thought we were wrong to engage militarily. Now the margin is down to 46-37. Meanwhile, the public has essentially equal confidence (actually lack of confidence) in President Bush and the Congress when it comes to managing the war. 25 percent trusts the president; 27 percent trusts Congress.
This represents progress, of course, but what strikes me is that more people (32 percent to 25 percent) still believe that things are getting worse for our troops than believe they are getting better. The public holds this view even though all of the evidence is to the contrary. For example, as the Washington Times notes, attacks on U.S. troops have dropped from 256 in August to 153 in September, to 36 so far this month. The number of troops killed is also down more than 60 percent from May, the month before the “surge in numbers” reached full strength and the “surge of operations” began against al Qaeda cells.
Since not being attacked is a good thing and not being killed is even better, there is no rational basis for believing that things are getting worse for our troops. The fact that more people nonetheless believe this than believe that things are getting better is a tribute to the drumbeat offered up by Democrats and MSM members who have a vested interest in perpetuating pessimism, the facts be damned.
But the Harris poll shows that the facts are slowly seeping into the public’s consciousness. If the facts on the ground continue to improve, the trend towards recognizing the improvement will also continue. At that point, more Americans will trust President Bush to deal with Iraq than will trust Congress. And perhaps a plurality of Americans will no longer believe that taking military action in Iraq was a mistake, just as a majority no longer believes this today.
JOHN adds: This is good news, but it is also a testament to the continuing power of the mainstream media. There is no doubt that conditions are getting better in Iraq, but only a quarter of respondents are aware of the fact. This is reminiscent of poll data on the economy, where most respondents will say (during a Republican administration) that the economy is “fair” or even “poor” when in fact, by any objective measure, it is booming.
It is reasonable to assume that the facts on the ground will eventually make their way into the awareness of most Americans, but one can only wonder how different things would be if we had a mass media without a political agenda.
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