Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2009

THAT ODD NORTH KOREA POLL.... Rasmussen published a poll yesterday showing 57% of Americans "favor a military response to eliminate North Korea's missile launching capability." I find that hard to believe.

The telephone survey was conducted Friday and Saturday, April 3-4, the two days immediately prior to North Korea's launch. The question asked about a military response if North Korea actually did launch a long-range missile.

Support for a military response comes from 66% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats and 54% of those not affiliated with either major political party. There is no gender gap on the issue as a military response is favored by 57% of men and 57% of women.

Overall, 75% of voters say they've been closely following news stories about the possible launch. That figure includes 40% who've followed the news Very Closely.

I find the notion that three out of four Americans have been "closely" following the news regarding North Korea even harder to believe. (Robert Farley put it this way: "Ahem. If you believe that 75% of the registered voters in the United States were closely following the North Korean missile launch on Friday, then I have a tea party to sell you.")

The key question was worded, "If North Korea launches a long-range missile, should the United States take military action to eliminate North Korea's ability to launch missiles?" In response, according to Rasmussen, 57% said, "Yes."

I can only assume those 57% haven't thought this through. If the U.S. were to "eliminate" North Korea's ability to launch missiles through military action, that would instigate a rather dramatic regional conflict, involving South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia. A majority of Americans really prepared to jump into this over a launch that, by some measures, was a failure?

In the meantime, Newt Gingrich believes the Obama administration should launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, and use "lasers" to take out the country's missile capabilities. Gingrich added that Obama has a "dangerous ... fantasy foreign policy."

Yes, the guy who wants to shoot frickin' lasers at North Korea believes the president's foreign policy is the stuff of fantasy. Got it.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

I suspect that most people interpreted the question to mean "if North Korea launches a long-range missile at us."

Posted by: Boots Day on April 6, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Launches a long-range missile" is ambiguous--it could be taken to mean "targets one on us."


Posted by: Readers on April 6, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Launches a long-range missile" is ambiguous--it could be taken to mean "targets one on us."

And professional survey designers and pollsters know this. This means that Rasmussen is not, not, not a reliable source of polling data. Either they're biased or incompetent.

Posted by: dr2chase on April 6, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Lasers, you say?

When I first moved to Albuquerque in 1978, one of the big local projects in the news was the Airborne Laser development going on at what was then the Air Force Weapons Lab (or AWFUL, as it was pronounced.)

About every 5 years or so, the big project to develop an airborne laser is in the news again. You'd assume, from hearing any one of the periodic news stories, that aerial laser combat was just around the corner, as good ol' "Newt" must have.

But apparently, 30 years of research & development hasn't been enough. Personally, I hope the President's budget finally euthanizes this pathetic old dog from the Reagan era.

Posted by: Zandru on April 6, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

It's all about manufacturing conservative outrage.

Posted by: David W. on April 6, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that most people interpreted the question to mean "if North Korea launches a long-range missile at us."

Posted by: Boots Day

Yeah, this. Deceptive question phrasing. They should have included the word "test".

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz on April 6, 2009 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

In another Rasmussen poll:

Q: Which option whould you choose as your choice of foreign policy position for the United States?

A1) Preemptively invade another country.
A2) Start a massive regional war in Asia.
A3) Star Wars everyone.
A4) Bomb Iran.
A5) Start a world wide nuclear war.
A6) All of the above.

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 6, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect MSNBC hired Scarborough as their answer to Bill O'Reilly. He hasn't worked out well in that role (which is to his credit, I think; he's a fairly nice, friendly, basically decent sort of person--and thus incapable of matching O'Reilly). But the reason he's there and his affability aside, all he has are 3 or 4 rightwing talking points that he recycles endlessly. Most annoying to me are his repeated criticisms of Obama for a failure to be bipartisan. This irritates me: 1) because Obama has made good-faith efforts in that area (greatly weakening the stimulus bill in an effort to get Republicans on board), and all such efforts have been rebuffed; 2) because I regard "bipartisanship" as the most overrated quality in the world; and 3) even if I liked bipartisanship, I'd very much agree with John Cole's memorable observation that you can't have meaningful bipartisanship when one side in the debate is insane. Scarborough throws the word "Keynesian" around, so he may actually have heard reasons why a spending freeze is NOT the right thing to do in a recession; but he's having none of it, gosh darnit! Since on the subject of the recession he fails to be either sane or serious (take your pick), his complaints about bipartisanship are worth as much as Eric Cantor's.

Posted by: Aaron Baker on April 6, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Congratulations to the U.S. media.

The American people are overwhelmingly ignorant of the implications of bad policy.

Here are some questions to poll.

1. What three countries border North Korea?
2. What two U.S. allies could North Korea strike with weapons based in North Korea?
3. What major population center is in range of North Korean artillery?

After asking these three questions, then the pollster should ask if the respondent has been following the story closely. And finally ask about using a military strike against North Korea.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on April 6, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

This doesn't look good for Obama and his supporters. Being on the opposite side of this issue from a solid majority of Americans will have negative consequences for Democrats at the polls next year.

Posted by: MatthewRQuarreler on April 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Newt must have a library filled with old James Bond DVDs. Afraid he might get zapped while in the party hardy mood of visiting the neighborhood surrounding Wilshire and Vermont; an area neither the leaders of North Korea nor Newt could ever replicate.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Darn, I posted my Scarborough pensees in the wrong comments section. Time to go back to bed.

Posted by: Aaron Baker on April 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Rassmussen is awful, but CNN offends me even more. You might think they would see the results of their surveys and conclude that they really don't do a very good job of informing their viewers. And frankly, when people respond to these surveys by saying they are paying close attention, I can't help but want to ask, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Posted by: Danp on April 6, 2009 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

The poll was taken of people on Sarah Palin's list of campaign contributors.

Posted by: Sam Simple on April 6, 2009 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"paying close attention"

That, simply means, they returned to FAUX without zapping out Cliff Mays commercials.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 6, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Forget 57% of Americans - I estimate about 5% of the cable news talking heads have followed North Korea closely.

If more of them had, they would have pointed out that in context, this is North Koreas' third fail, that they do not have any missile that can 'reach Alaska', and that the events this past weekend are not cause for panic.

Posted by: Ohioan on April 6, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

In Newt's next presidential run, he should emulate the late Earl Scheib's painting cars slogan and tell his supporters "Yes, for only $29.95, I will zap any country of your choice".

Posted by: berttheclock on April 6, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I really doubt most people have thought about the consequences of war with North Korea at all. What worries me more is some postings I'm starting to see out of the right-wing blogs that North Korea is a paper tiger and would just roll over if we tried to invade. (Sound familiar?) The argument is their economy and their country in general is in such terrible shape that they wouldn't be able to fight back at all. I'm sure that's true to some extent, but I'm also sure they still have plenty left. 10% of 100,000 is still 10,000.

Posted by: ArkPanda on April 6, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the morning chuckle, Newt. Have you considered a clandestine assault by a highly trained squad of Jedi Knights armed with light savers?

The truly sad thing is that the misery of the North Korean people will go on unabated, indefinitely.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on April 6, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

NK has nukes, not many, but they can probably make a hell of a mess in SK. I doubt if the missiles can even carry warheads yet.

The Rasmussen poll looks pretty slanted. I wonder what the response would be to "do you want to start a nuclear war?"

Posted by: Glen on April 6, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Newt got the movie 'Real Genius' confused with a documentary.
Or he was alluding to sharks with frickin lasers on their heads.

Posted by: jhill123 on April 6, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

What worries me more is some postings I'm starting to see out of the right-wing blogs that North Korea is a paper tiger and would just roll over if we tried to invade.

Because China would just love having us invade a country they share a border with. That wouldn't make them nervous at all, and they certainly wouldn't supply troops to the North Koreans to drive us back.

I mean, China only did that during the Korean War and Vietnam War, so there's no way they'll do it again. Right?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on April 6, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK
I can only assume those 57% haven't thought this through. If the U.S. were to "eliminate" North Korea's ability to launch missiles through military action, that would instigate a rather dramatic regional conflict, involving South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia.

I think its also likely that a substantial fraction of those 57% include those to whom saying "launches a missile" means something very different than "tests a missile", and to whom, therefore, "a rather dramatic regional conflict" would already have been initiated if the hypothetical posed (as they understood it) came to pass.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 6, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

If laser technology won't work
I suggest Photon Torpedos

I know for a fact that they've been around since the 60s

Posted by: Mr DeBakey on April 6, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

What this poll indicates is that approximately 75% of americans lie to telephone pollsters and 57% of telephone poll respondants are idiots.

Posted by: JeffF on April 6, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

A Rasmussen poll? Hmmm, where have I heard that name before...

(Link capsule summary: Rasmussen seems to produce decent election polls, and *highly conservatively slanted* public policy polls.)

Posted by: Alex R on April 6, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

After the Bush administration embodied the idiocy and criminality and sadism of these nuts it's clear why the public elected Obama to be President.

That there is still some ability for these Republican nuts to veto/filibuster anything in the Senate is crazy.

Should Democrats fear what a simple majority of the Senate would do if Republicans were in charge or should Democrats fear the damage they are doing now to prevent the Obama agenda from being enacted?

The Republicans are killing America.

Posted by: MarkH on April 6, 2009 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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