Americans Respond to Bush Escalation Plan with Resounding "No"

Last night Matt wrote an extremely important post detailing the disconnect between the sentiments of the public and the actions of the President. Humpbacking on another important post by Digby, Matt writes, "It's very upsetting to have political elites so out of step with a public that just voted for change. The public says no.  The Congress says no.  And yet Bush is going to escalate the war, and possibly strike Iran as well." Indeed. But not only is President Bush charting a course opposed by an overwhelming number of Americans, those who either watched his speech last night or have heard the details of his plan are just as likely oppose his escalation as those who are not yet familiar with the specifics, indicating that there was little to no bounce from his widely-covered speech -- a surprising fact given that it was run on all of the major television networks in prime time, though perhaps not as surprising due to Americans' disapproval of the President and his cynical political plan for Iraq.

CBS News, which had polled Americans about a week ago, conducted an overnight poll among its earlier respondents and found some interesting data. Looking through the report, available in .pdf form from Pollster.com, Americans are actually less confident in the President's ability to make decisions about Iraq than they were before his speech last night (though the shift was well within the margin of error for the survey). And while those who watched the speech were swayed to the argument that America should fund a jobs program in Iraq, they were neither convinced that more troops should be sent to the country, nor that President Bush's plan will result in success.

The Washington Post and ABC News, which also conducted a one-night survey following the President's speech (though did not have another recent poll with which to compare the most recent results), found sentiments within the public not dissimilar to those found by CBS. According to this poll, 61 percent of Americans still oppose sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq, including a 52 percent majority that strongly disapproves of such a move. Remarkably, given the the lack of coverage and lack of respect given to those politicians calling for a defunding any increase in the number of US forces in Iraq, 53 percent of Americans want to see the Democrats use the power of the purse to block troop increases. This number, in particular, stands out in light of the argument by both Matt and Digby that the elites in this country are deaf to the sentiments of the citizenry.

Finally, the Associated Press had a poll (.pdf) in the field over the last three nights that captured Americans' feelings about the war as the President's plan slowly leaked out. Overall, 70 percent of Americans are opposed to an increase in American troops in Iraq -- including a substantial 42 percent minority of Republicans. Even if these numbers come down slightly in the coming days as Americans have more of an opportunity to digest the President's speech and plan (a possibility, though not necessarily likely), they indicate that Americans of all political stripes are thoroughly opposed to the escalation of the war.

Yet not only are the elites and policymakers divorced from the sentiments of Americans, they are also divorced from both reality and history. In the car this morning I caught retired General Jack Keane, one of the architects of the President's plan to escalate the war, on NPR's Talk of the Nation. In response to a question from a Vietnam veteran who likened this decision to the one nearly forty years ago to continue the war in Southeast Asia despite the clear lack of a winning strategy and even, perhaps, the capacity to win, Gen. Keane responded that President Bush was taking the same affirmative steps taken in 1969 to replace the generals on the ground with others who understood how to properly fight an insurgency. As a result of that decision -- and, in theory, as a result of this one as well -- Americans had effectively won the war by 1972. Now I do not mean to imply that I understand more about military history and tactics than a retired general, but I think many can agree in hindsight that the continued presence of American troops in Vietnam during the Nixon administration did not, in the end, ensure victory but rather fostered thousands more American deaths. If this is what we have to look forward to with the President's plan, then far more than 60 to 70 percent of Americans are going to disapprove of his Iraq strategy.

Regardless, it is clear that the American people do not support an escalation in Iraq, that they in fact support the withdrawal of American troops and that, depressingly, their sentiments are not being heeded by those with power over America's policy.

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A Survey of Anti-Escalation and Redeployment Bills

I am compiling a list of bills introduced in the 110th Congress dealing with ending, lessening, or keeping at the status quo, American involvement in Iraq.  

H.Con.Res.23: Offered by Dennis Kucinich
Expresses the sense of the Congress that troops not be escalated (note the use of the word "escalated") in Iraq.  I may be wrong, but this appears to be a non-binding resolution.  Judging from the compartively high number of cosponsors and the fact that Lynch is a cosponsor, it appears this may become a "consensus" piece of legislation, basically hot air but no substance.  It has 21 cosponsors as of 12:28 PM EST on January 11:  

Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] | Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7] | Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] | Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]| Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] | Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] | Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] | Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] | Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] | Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] | Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] | Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] | Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] | Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] | Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] | Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] | Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] | Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] | Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] | Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] | Rep Wu, David [OR-1]

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True Majority: "AmericaSaysNo" Vigils Tonight Nationwide

I just got an e-mail from True Majority. They're organizing candlelight vigils all around the country for tonight.

Stop by the website and check if something is close by to you. Most of these things look like they'll go down at around 6 or 7 pm, local time.

Grab a candle and cup to shield your flame from the wind and get out there and

"Say No" to escalating the War.

"Say No" to the McCain Doctrine.

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McCain Endorses Bush's Troop Increase

[Cross-Posted at SOTUblog and The Right's Field]

Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) said that he is satisfied with President Bush's plan of sending 21,000 more U.S. forces into Iraq.

On January 5, along with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), expressed reservations of the rumored number of forces and their proposed length of deployment. He called for a "substantial and sustained" escalation of American forces.

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Americans Deserve an Up or Down Vote on Kennedy's Legislation Against This Escalation

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, January 10, 2007

To no-one's surprise, President Bush has announced his "new strategy": 20,000 more troops. To no-one's surprise, the November election has not changed Bush's underlying policy one whit. To no-one's surprise, he ignored the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, in particular, the call for diplomacy with Syria and Iran.

No new information was revealed.

Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi took an important first step when they pledged that the Senate and the House would vote on a resolution against this escalation. As the New York Times reported, "the resolutions would represent the most significant reconsideration of Congressional support for the war since it began."

But while it is tremendously important for Congress to go on the record against the escalation, Congress can't stop there. It cannot absolve itself of responsibility by merely passing a resolution.

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