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Tilting at Windmills

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March 25, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WHEN MEMORY FAILS....Why do the media and the public seem to have an insatiable appetite for listening to people who were wrong about Iraq justify their past wrongness? Why not listen to people who were right instead? Alex Tabarrok suggests it's because the majority of the media and the public were also wrong about the war, and are therefore uninterested in listening to a long parade of smug I-told-you-sos.

I find this extremely plausible. Most homo sapiens of my acquaintance are notably unenthusiastic about being reminded of their past misjudgments. However, Henry Farrell demurs:

I'd be prepared to bet a significant amount of money that the number of people who believe that they supported the war back in 2003 is far lower than the number of people who actually did support the war back in 2003. Indeed, I suspect that the number of people who believe that they supported the war back in 2003 is a minority of the US public. Since the Cassandra-backlash effect that Tabarrok is talking about is contemporaneous, and presumably depends on people's current beliefs about what they thought in the past, this makes me think that something else is going here (and that this something else has to do with the desire of elite actors in the commentariat to hold onto their privileged position in the public discourse).

I find this extremely plausible too. It's like asking people if they voted in the last election: 80% say they did, even in elections where we know for a fact that the turnout level was only 60%.

But this is testable, no? In March 2003, most polls showed support for the war at about 65% (though it depended somewhat on how the question was worded). If you asked people now about their view at the time the war started, how much lower would that number be? 10 points? 20? Zero? Maybe the next time Gallup or the New York Times or some other pollster does one of those massive 100-question surveys that they sometimes do, they should find out.

Kevin Drum 4:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Comments

I never voted for Nixon. Nixon is dead to me.

Posted by: Anon on March 25, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't the number less than 50% if the UN didn't go along with the war?

Doesn't that mean that only a minority of people really supported the war?

And isn't 65% in March 2003 a bit vague, because support jumped after the war started, and it started in March?

Posted by: Boronx on March 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

So?

Posted by: Dick Cheney on March 25, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

What's different now as compared to the past is that, thanks to blogs, email and the magic of Google, many of us now have direct documentary evidence of what we thought and said back in 2003. In the past if memory played tricks on one there was really no way to confirm it, but now the evidence is there in all its black and white glory.

Posted by: Stefan on March 25, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

If the media isn't interested in smug I-told-you-so's, why does Hitchens still get a forum? He wasn't even right, and yet he still says "I told you so."

Posted by: David on March 25, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Something to think about: If Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeldt hadn't screwed up their occupation of Iraq, and actually created their "stable" government in six months for $60 Billion, NO ONE WOULD CARE who was against the war from the very beginning. Success overcomes mistakes in implementation. Failure is an orphan.

Posted by: CT on March 25, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

I wish I could forget the bad thoughts I had while watching Kagan, O'Hanlon and Pollock at the AEI rationalize more Iraq war on CSPAN last night.

Posted by: Brojo on March 25, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

If we as a society could only bring back old-style shunning...

We would be humane. They'd have food, heat, maybe even an Xbox. But they wouldn't be allowed to roam free among us.

Posted by: shortstop on March 25, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

When failure is too dangerous, to devastating to the system, so that it can't be allowed to happen, then you can have bailouts of Bear Stearns or bailouts of the Nixon & Bush administration (by Pelosi).

When facing the Truth is too embarrassing or too costly, then no cost will be spared to forget and force everyone to forget.

However, in this Bush case, I don't think we are so small and weak that we have to admit it's dangerous to face that Truth. In fact, I think that it's crucial to our moral standing (within ourselves and in the world) that we face the facts and mete out justice or stand forever tarred.

YMMV

Posted by: MarkH on March 25, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe 80% of the people you asked did vote. Maybe you're not getting a good sample. Aren't you the internets stats/graphs guy?

Posted by: DougMN on March 25, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't the number less than 50% if the UN didn't go along with the war?

You are correct sir! And it's not an insignificant dropoff either, from 65% to 47%. It's typically ignored when talking about support for the invasion, but it shouldn't be. From the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll of March 16, 2003:

...support drops off if the U.N. backing being sought by the United States, Britain and Spain Monday is not obtained. If the U.N. Security Council rejects a resolution paving the way for military action, only 54% of Americans favor a U.S. invasion. And if the Bush administration does not seek a final Security Council vote, support for a war drops to 47%.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on March 25, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

It can also be the case that ambivalent or contingent support (yes, but on only if X) type thinking can now be thought of as having been a no (since the antecedent can now be considered to have not been satisfied). And I was against it early on, but someone convinced me to support it, morphs into I was against.

Posted by: bigTom on March 25, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

"the majority of the media and the public were also wrong about the war, and are therefore uninterested in listening to a long parade of smug I-told-you-sos.

Just as it ever was. No-one likes to be told they were wrong, but it's even worse for the thin-skinned press... smug I-told-you-sos aside, the MSM don't even want to be gently reminded that they were wrong.

There's no good way to point out your rightness from the beginning without the people who got it wrong (i.e. the majority) labeling you as 'smug'. So you're left with the people who got it right having to sit on their hands & shut up while those who got it so terribly wrong issue limp mea culpas that do little more than spread the blame around rather than provide an actual accounting.

Ironically, very real smugness (along with contempt, anger, slander, threats, etc.) issued daily from the mouths of the people who thought they had it right before reality intruded upon their little Dick Cheney Fantasy Weekend War Camp. Perhaps they'd rather forget about that too.

Posted by: raff on March 25, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that."

-Homer Simpson

Posted by: Zap Rowsdower on March 25, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Suppose Colin Powell had been right about WMD? Would Baksheesh Obama look so wise today?

How were we to know the neocons were running intelligence? Bush and Powell both had reputations as "straight talking guys."

Posted by: Luther on March 25, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I always hate when I see protesters with signs reading "we were right about Vietnam."

Yes, they were. And if the purpose of your demonstration is to display your righteousness, then fine. But if you're trying to influence people, it's going to harden people's opinions.

Ditto with "we were right about Iraq." It's a bitch, ain't it?

Posted by: thersites on March 25, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

the MSM don't even want to be gently reminded that they were wrong.

The MSM no longer has to operate in competitive markets. The MSM is an oligarchy, which protects it from journalistic competition. The MSM has insulated itself from being wrong. It no longer has to verify information, but instead verifies the propaganda themes issued from corporate offices.

Posted by: Brojo on March 25, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Luther: How were we to know the neocons were running intelligence?

Um, because there were people telling you so? And not just lefties, either? Remember Scott Ritter? People like you scorned him, at the time. Now, we're all eating your shit. Thanks, bud.

Posted by: thersites on March 25, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bush and Powell both had reputations as "straight talking guys."
Bush didn't even know his own policies or the financial effects in the first debate with Gore. Lucky for him, Gore sighed in responding to George's inanity. There was a reputation in the media but not among people who watched him.
That's the problem, most of the TV/cable talking heads were wrong but knew better. The last thing they're going to do is admit they knew they were wrong, not that they were wrong.

Posted by: TJM on March 25, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Luther: Bush and Powell both had reputations as "straight talking guys."

Bush was always a lying weasel. Powell used to be a decent man but when he stood up in front of the UN we were watching a man sell himself to the devil.

Posted by: thersites on March 25, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Some people can't even remember who was actually 100% percent responsible for invading Iraq. Some people can't even remember that that guy, almost a year later, was still publically chiding John Kerry over Kerry's lack of support for removing Saddam. So, some people appear to have modified history.

Posted by: little ole jim on March 25, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that."

And yet few people know that 37% of all statistics are made up.

Posted by: Stefan on March 25, 2008 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: And yet few people know that 37% of all statistics are made up.

Liar. It's 47%.

Posted by: thersites on March 25, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was always a lying weasel. Powell used to be a decent man but when he stood up in front of the UN we were watching a man sell himself to the devil.

So true, so sad, so disgusting.

Posted by: little ole jim on March 25, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop >"If we as a society could only bring back old-style shunning..."

The Empty Quarter.

No warmth need be supplied (the phrase "burning in hell" comes to mind). And, since they are (as they so often remind us) all such smart little entrepreneurial folks, they could work out their Randian free market paradise out there w/o the interference of any nanny government whatsoever.

I like it !

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by: daCascadian on March 25, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Nixon beat George McGovern by a record majority, yet after his impeachment you couldn’t find anyone who voted for him. Likewise after the fall of Saigon almost no one claimed to have ever supported the war in Vietnam. George W.’s claim that Vietnam was a good idea if only the U.S. public hadn’t lost its nerve represents a revisionist view that has come back into vogue only as the memory of what a horrible fiasco the war really was has faded.

Posted by: fafner1 on March 25, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop >"If we as a society could only bring back old-style shunning..."

The Empty Quarter.

No warmth need be supplied (the phrase "burning in hell" comes to mind). And, since they are (as they so often remind us) all such smart little entrepreneurial folks, they could work out their Randian free market paradise out there w/o the interference of any nanny government whatsoever.

I like it !

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by: daCascadian on March 25, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oooops !

I got several error responses while trying to post that claimed I had posted too much lately & that there were errors in my post that I needed to correct for the post to be successful. Very confusing and not at all true. WebGlitch City I guess.

"...it's the ideas that count, not the number of trees you kill to print them." - Phil Carter@Intel-dump.com

Posted by: daCascadian on March 25, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

If I may, Kevin: Henry Farrell didn't demur, he disagreed.

To demur is to take the position that even if your opponent's premises are correct, the conclusion doesn't follow. It's logically equivalent to saying, "So what?" What Farrell contends is that his opponent's premises aren't true.

On the substantive point: it's also possible that a lot of people in 2003 had mixed (and weak) feelings about whether we should invade Iraq. Support isn't all or nothing, like whether someone voted for Nixon or not. So perhaps it's not that they supported the war then but now believe they didn't. Perhaps it's that (in the absence of a pollster asking them to say "yes" or "no") they just didn't have a memorable opinion at the time, and now they conveniently fill in that memory gap with the judgment they now believe would have been the right one.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on March 25, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I believe it's because the media think that those who were against the war arrived at their position reflexively, without reason. Thanks to the childish excesses of 60's antiwar activists and the privileged tantrums of the anarchists of the 90's, serious antiwar activists of today continue to be tainted by association.

This stereotyping of antiwar activists is maintained by selective coverage of protests and teach ins. For example, when Bush came to Portland a few years back we organized a huge rally against the war with a focus on how the money wasted on war could support health care. We had seniors, working families, people of color, single mothers and all sorts of others. There were about 3000 people even though the location had been kept secret until the last minute. and one - one yahoo happened to be there in a diaper made out of the flag, an inarticulate brain-dead idiot with nothing to offer except Bush is so uncool, dude idiocy. Guess who was interviewed on television and radio. Guess who was ina the paper. It was as thoguh the 3000 sane people were not there and the only one the press paid attention to was the idiot.

Thus anti-war activists who based their opposition to the war on theories of just war, on concerns of regional destabilization, on lack of belief in the claims of the administration, etc. are not heard. What gets heard is the war is not cool, dude.


Posted by: Kij Persson on March 25, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

The question I always wonder is, if US support for the war was between 47%-65%, why were the official media voices almost 100% in favor of the war?

NYT, Washington Post, NPR, the networks, not to mention the second tier (the TNRs) and third tier (the biggest liberal bloggers) were at least 95% in favor of the war.

So, what's different about the press (95% war supporters) and the public (at ~55% support)?

Hell, the press was even more pro-war than Congressional Democrats (39% of House Democrats supported, 58% of Senate Dems supported the war).

So, what's up with the press? Do they have different incentives operating on them than the politicians? The need to be liked for votes or to get readers for ad revenue seem similar. Is the press more nationalistic, jingoistic? You'd think not, since higher education is usually inversely correlated with those views. Is it corporate sponsorship? Dunno...

If almost 50% of our country opposed the war (even though they were getting their information through the biased press) and about 25% of politicians opposed it, why was the NYT and Washington Post, etc. so pro-war? If they were pro-war then, I don't think it's a puzzle why they don't air anti-war voices now.

(There is only one way to oppose the war in the mainstream media, even now, which is to decry the planning, timing, execution, torture, maybe even the lies. But you can't question the right of America to invade other countries, even - or maybe especially - over something as trivial as terrorism).

Posted by: luci on March 25, 2008 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx is right...the statistic "62% opposed absent a broad coalition and UN support" seems stuck in my mind, though I don't remember from where and can't find it. But I vividly remember that the numbers represented a majority opposed to the war in the way they chose to wage it - absent UN support, with a coalition in name only. I think a lot of those folks switched over to "now that we're in there, I'll support it and keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best" after the invasion. But even then I think support was always softer than portrayed by the media and the administration. And we all remember the hard-core media pimping...can anyone say "codpiece Chris Matthews"?

Posted by: Jennifer on March 25, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wondered: "Why do the media and the public seem to have an insatiable appetite for listening to people who were wrong about Iraq justify their past wrongness? Why not listen to people who were right instead?"

First of all, the public has little choice in who they "listen to". Most of the public relies on the corporate-owned mass media for most of their information. They listen to whoever the corporations put on the air or the op-ed pages.

So, why doesn't corporate America want to "listen to people who were right instead"?

Simply because most of the people "who were right" are calling for withdrawal from Iraq. And that is not the agenda that corporate America supports. Much of corporate America is making a lot of money off the Iraq war, and the oil companies in particular are hoping to make MUCH more.

That's why corporate America is willing to spend any amount of the taxpayers' dollars, and send any number of young working-class Americans to their deaths, and murder any number of innocent Iraqi civilians, in hopes of eventually installing a US-backed puppet government that will hand over the profits from Iraq's oil to the US oil corporations and acquiesce to a large permanent US military occupation to act as enforcers of that deal.

And that's why corporate America doesn't like to "listen" to "people who were right" -- and doesn't want the American public to listen to them either.

(There is also the small matter that many of the "people who were right" said at the time, and still say today, that Cheney and Bush led the USA into war based on a sickening pack of lies, and should be impeached, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for treason, and the corporate mass media deliberately and knowingly aided and abetted their crimes.)

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 25, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

On the subject of faulty memory, I'd rather hear more war stories from Bosnia authored by Hillary Clinton, personally

Posted by: Quinn on March 25, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Kevin Drum himself was one of the biggest cheerleaders in favor of the Iraq War. But he's doing his penance now shilling for Obama on this site.

Posted by: Pat on March 25, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Please note that this applies to the current credit market crisis as well. The same experts who were saying only a year ago were telling us that the housing market would not cause a recession are the one's being quoted as saying that same recession, which they failed to see coming, will be shallow. Meanwhile, those who were right, eg Nouriel Roubini, remain largely on the sidelines (only quoted by a handful of people, especially when compared ot say...Mark Zandi).

Posted by: tosh on March 25, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

What gets heard is the war is not cool, dude.

Posted by: Kij Persson on March 25, 2008 at 7:18 PM

Sadly, you're right. Yet on the other side, the advocates of war are sober (mostly) men in suits. The drunken yahoo that tries to shove his flagpole up your butt somehow never gets on the news, either.

Jeepers.

Posted by: thersites on March 25, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Just to refresh your own memory, here were your predictions for what the invasion of Iraq would entail:

"PREDICTIONS....Here are my war predictions:

How long will the war last? Answer: 6 weeks.

How many American deaths will there be? Answer: 700.

How big will the occupation force be by the end of the year? Answer: 80,000 troops.

How long will the military occupation last: Answer: 3 years.

How much will the war cost this year? Answer: $110 billion.

How much will it cost next year? Answer: $25 billion.

How much actual democracy will we bring to Iraq? Answer: 4%.

All answers are plus or minus a factor of two."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2003_03/000779.php

One out of seven.

Posted by: smintheus on March 25, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

the war is not cool, dude

None of the war protests, whether by kooks or the most honored people in the world, have made any difference and will not. Until protests become confrontational and stimulates public contempt for the establishment and its tools, they will have no effect on ending the war.

At the protest I attended last week, the organizers had signs that said 'Support the Troops Bring Them Home.' The organizers did not want to elicit any negative emotions about the troops or their mission. They wanted a respectful and orderly demonstration against the war. Respect for the establishment and order for the police state is what is accomplished.

My sign said 'Support Troops Go AWOL,' expressing dissatisfaction with their service (yet beginning with a well worn platitude). Until a significant portion of Americans begin to protest for desertion and disobedience passionately, anti-war protests will accomplish nothing.

Posted by: Brojo on March 25, 2008 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

The media's weasely way of implicating the American people in Bush's disaster is unfair. The media declared war after Bush pronounced it necessary for reasons they would release once they discovered them. After the Patriot Act, most Americans had been rightly fearful of the uttering truths that might sound, shall we say, French. Bush created a fascist "compliance or else" atmosphere. The media hyped his delusions. We might have even marched on Poland, if we hadn't forgotten they were part of a grand alliance!

Americans feared being rounded up into long-term holding cells by 2002-3 (except Obama and a few other exceptions like Howard Dean). Protesters were marginalized and derided by the MSM. "No blood for oil?" Hippie delusions. And Kevin Drum announced his support for the administration. That is how I remember it, anyway!

Posted by: Sparko on March 25, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Tired rolodexes, fake think-tank prestige, and short memories-- three more good reasons why we see the same heads yawping about the war.

You want to book a recognized name on the war? "How about O'Hanlon, he's the one in my file and he's at that think tank so he really must know something. And he's always been talking about it." Scott Ritter? "He's that icky guy with the weird glasses and he doesn't have a think tank title. What can *he* know? Was he even around back then?"

Shunning also fits here, but as a backflip. The folks who were right all got shunned by the nets and the think tanks in '03. (Just ask Phil Donohue how his bookings have been since then.) Their rolodex cards got pulled and burned. So they don't have listings anymore and they don't have credentials-- they're blacklisted and no-listed. And nobody who does the bookings remembers who they are.

Posted by: Altoid on March 26, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Count me in as one who knew that starting a war in Iraq would be stupid and disastrous.

In 2002, I wondered about the mass insanity that seemed to grip our nation, with the mass insanity starting in the White House.

I didn't buy the Bush administration lies. None of their arguments passed my "logic" test. And why was the Bush administration shifting our nation's focus from Afghanistan and the Taliban/Al Qaeda there to a despotic-ruled country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks?

In 2002, I tried to inform people about my suspicions that an insane "con" was taking place, and that the Bush administration had already decided to launch an attack against Iraq...no matter what anyone else said. AUMF? Just window dressing? Going to the U.N. and getting U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq? Didn't make any difference to the insane Bushites, they'd already decided to go after Iraq's oil.

It was as if everyone was under mass hypnosis, suckered into believing pure crap. And as this mass insanity spread (with the help of right-wing pseudo news outlets), I knew that it was not a matter of whether Bush and Cheney were going to invade Iraq, but when.

Our soldiers have already paid a heavy price for this insane, stupid, disastrous war in Iraq. Our nation's children and grand-children will bear the brunt over the next several decades of the criminal acts committed by the Bush/Cheney administration. And yet, we are seeing signs today of the damage the most criminally-insane administration in American history has already done to our nation...as if the only goal of Bush and Cheney, from the beginning, was to weaken and destroy us as a nation.

Incredible. And "righteous" Republicans, as well as "righteous" conservatives, will deny that what they did, or whom they followed so blindly, has hurt our nation so badly...even as their own children and grand-children bear the harsh, insane consequences that is certain to result from all the wasted spending and wasted lives of Bush's and Cheney's war in Iraq.

Bush and Cheney should both be impeached and thrown into jail, having all their assets (especially Cheney's Halliburton/KBR stock) seized. All of our troops should be immediately withdrawn from Iraq, with half coming home and the other half heading over to Afghanistan to shore up Bush's and Cheney's failing effort against the al Qaeda and Taliban there. Only then can we hope to start undoing the evil that Bush and Cheney have done to our nation, and take the fight to those right-wing religious fanatics actually responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

But, just as no one listened in 2002, I doubt if anyone will listen now.

Posted by: The Oracle on March 26, 2008 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Right up to the last minute I was thinking, "This must be a bluff. They can't be fucking serious." How wrong I was.

Now when I tell friends I worry we're going to Iran, they say "They can't be that stupid."

Posted by: thersites on March 26, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is among those who thought invading Iraq made sense.

I am among those who cannot believe that anyone bought the transparent lies that led us into Iraq, and I cannot believe that those who supported it can live with themselves now. If I had been wrong about something that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, I would have had to kill myself out of remorse.

What was it about George W. Bush's lifetime history of stupidity, sociopathy, incompetence and corruption that inspired such confidence that people were willing to overlook the fact that his lies were easily exposed?

No one who advocated the invasion of Iraq should ever be placed in a position of authority again. Ever. The people who were right should be in charge.

Posted by: Repack Rider on March 26, 2008 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Poll here:
http://www.usiraqprocon.org/pop/Resources-Polls.html#F

One-third did not support, one-third supported with UN backing, one-third supported unconditionally.

Of note is that only 17% were strong no supporters.

Posted by: mcdruid on March 26, 2008 at 4:00 AM | PERMALINK

The entire concept of "support" for the war has a lot of vagueness and ambiguity. Many of us were quite skeptical of the President's arguments, and of the idea that we were threatened by Sadaam Hussein.

However, there was a lot of uncertainty, and at some point, we believed that trusting our President was the right thing to do. And so we did...

Additionally, many who turned out to be "right" had cynical reasons for doing so... like never never trust a Republican or Bush, or that war was never an answer for anything, which have nothing to do with being "correct" only with rules of thumb that turned out to be correct on this issue at this time. So, they were right in only a very narrow sense.

That said, both sides should be involved in the discussions (ideally without the anger). The reason the media still mostly quotes those who were "wrong", is because, sadly, they are still in charge. When they are no longer in charge, it will change.

Posted by: Jim G on March 26, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

"many who turned out to be "right" had cynical reasons for doing so... like never never trust a Republican or Bush, or that war was never an answer for anything, which have nothing to do with being "correct" only with rules of thumb that turned out to be correct on this issue at this time. So, they were right in only a very narrow sense."

Doncha just LOVE how the folks who were WRONG try to parse the folks that were right?

Let me throw that back at you. What WAS it about Mr. Bush's history of lies, corruption, stupidity and incompetence that made you follow him blindly?

I think that weighing these factors, and adding the fact that the president and Colin Powell were caught lying about Iraq should have been red flags, and only REMARKABLY STUPID PEOPLE (apparently 1/3 of the population) would fall for the con game.

But then, I was in the Army during the sixties, so I've seen it before. What sacrifice have you made for the war you advocated?

Posted by: on March 26, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

many who turned out to be "right" had cynical reasons for doing so

That is incorrect. The ones who turned out to be wrong had emotional reasons for doing so: bloodlust, racism and greed. Those who had the courage to oppose the invasion of Iraq knew civil war was inevitable, that millions would be displaced, civilians would be aerially bombed by US evangelicals and reenactments of My Lai would take place all over Iraq. It all came to pass, but Americans who believe in military solutions when their is no national security threat still believe in preemptive war and American exceptionalism to kill anyone anywhere without having to take responsibility for their crimes.

Posted by: Brojo on March 26, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I remember telling my husband back in February of 2005 that "in 10 years nobody will admit they voted for Bush." Lately I've been rethinking my timetable, but not my prediction.

Posted by: JoyousMN on March 26, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

No numbers to back this up but, as someone who was at all the monthly demonstrations in San Francisco before the invasion, my recollection is that slightly less than 50% of the public favored the invasion before it happened. Afterwards, of course, approval soared.

Posted by: thump on March 26, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Additionally, many who turned out to be "right" had cynical reasons for doing so... like never never trust a Republican or Bush, or that war was never an answer for anything, which have nothing to do with being "correct" only with rules of thumb that turned out to be correct on this issue at this time. So, they were right in only a very narrow sense.

How exactly is the rule of thumb "never never trust Bush" correct only in a very narrow sense? As far as I can tell, it accurately predicts outcomes upwards of 95% of the time.

Posted by: Stefan on March 26, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

"It's like asking people if they voted in the last election: 80% say they did, even in elections where we know for a fact that the turnout level was only 60%."

Um, Kevin? You really need to read up on selection bias. The people willing to answer the question about whether they voted probably skews towards people who actually voted.

Think of it this way. Non-voters don't express their opinions in elections, and don't express their opinion to pollsters. Voters do. Let's use an example.

Take a population with probability of voting at 60%, ask 200 people whether they voted. 80% of voters answer, 40% of nonvoters answer (these percentages are outrageously high for telephone surveys).

You expect to find 120/200, but 96/120 voters answer and 32/80 nonvoters answer. ZOMG, 96/128 (75%) of our respondents say they voted! Those liars!

Except, not so much.

Posted by: mere mortal on March 27, 2008 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK
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