Friday, April 29, 2005


I think that Bush saying polls don't matter or serve much purpose in presidential decision-making may be just another way for him and his party to keep repeating an untruth enough that many people will eventually hear it as truth. For example, I believe the idea of a "liberal media" has been hammered into the nation's psyche for years, to the point where most Americans finally agree the media is actually leftist, even when it may have actually been slipping toward the right in recent years, or at least toward being "corporate".

The same principle seems to apply here... Bush likes to make his statement about polls when he's on the air. Millions of TV viewers hear him say it. It keeps getting repeated.

Eventually people might answer poll questions, saying they don't like the president or some particular policies of his, and the poll results will show these respondents are agreeing with about two-thirds of the rest of the country... but when the results are made public, these same people may well have been conditioned to say "Yeah, but the president shouldn't have to pay any attention to the results. He just needs to do his job."

Is all of this devaluation of opinion polls little more than a subtle snow job, to convince people that maybe what they think about national issues really isn't all that important? Gee, if that works, maybe an even larger percentage of the public will just "look the other way and not pay attention to what's going on!

I do believe polls are systematically being devaluated in the minds of Americans.
And of course the president shouldn't have to base every single decision he makes on poll results... that's ludicrous. But, for example, if a number of polls would tend to show that 60% or more of the respondents are against his Social Security plans, why wouldn't he or his advisors want to pay attention? Why wouldn't they think "Yeah, we may think we're right, but a majority of Americans don't agree with us." Or if a president's approval ratings got down around 40%, wouldn't he at least think of things he might do differently to not hurt his own party's chances for the next election?

This is where I would argue that they ARE paying attention to the polls... the evidence is in how Bush is going around the U.S. to push the Social Security plan; he knows it isn't popular, so he's using orchestrated media opportunities as much as possible to make it look like (on TV, at least) the public is in favor of what he wants to do. If the public buys his schtick, the polls become more favorable and more people get on the bandwagon.

On his weblog at , J.Marquis says to Bush: "You work for me and every other citizen of the United States. And polls are how we communicate with you." I agree with that. If Bush doesn't listen to what the people he serves think, or if he doesn't care about their opinions, he isn't really working for you and me and every other citizen of the U.S., but rather for himself and his political friends.

And even as he is actually paying attention to the polls and while he is scrambling around trying to save his Social Security plan, he might not be working for all of us anyway. As much as he might try to suggest otherwise, I think he IS paying attention to the polls. I also think if the public is disliking some of his plans or finding them abhorrent by a large margin, he ought to do what I think is the right/honorable thing... either dump the plans altogether or try and reach compromise on them.

Because he is doing neither of these things, and because he instead pursues policies which are obviously unpopular, I seriously have to doubt the guy's motives, and ultimately his character. I think he looks at the polls, but looks at them in regard to how it affects him rather than how it affects the country. I think he chooses to hang on to his plans, good or bad, like a bloody tick hangs on to an animal.

The old saying "What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular" can be applied in lots of ways. In this case, I'm waiting for Bush and his friends to start repeating that in the media as a mantra, so the American people might start believing that even if they don't like Bush's plans, his plans are "right".

I don't think that result would be anything but wrong.


Blogger Lizzy said...

I've given up on trying to figure out what Dubya is thinking...probably because I know he isn't really thinking at all.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Yeah, if he were thinking, he would just commission Diebold to do all the polls. You know, the way he hires the media to spin and/or make up stories for him.

Clearly Americans have no problems with conflict of interest.

I think it's more insidious though. I think they are just trying to wear out all opposition by being consistently stupid and obnoxious no matter what we do to try and stop it. I consider it an endurance test. That's why I have been taking a break to regain my stamina.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Damien said...

45% and dropping by my estimate of recent polls. The poll rating needs to drop further to impact the overall public image of the GOP. Very, very intersting times.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Quit your damn polling. It is useless. If you want W out of office, impeach his butt. If the country truely backs you, go for it.

Personally, I don't want a politican following the polls. I elect them to do what is right based on their judgment. They have a period to show this judgment. If it is good, I vote to election them again. If not, I vote for them to find other employment.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I want our leaders to pay attention to trends in public opinion, particularly when I believe they lack good judgment. If most people take Phil's approach to selecting a president, a lot of us in the USA must believe Bush displayed good judgment during his first four years in office. Personally, I think it's tragic. I not only vote for someone who I think will do what is right based on their judgment, but also who I think will listen. It seems to me there was ample evidence prior to the 2004 election that Bush was not a good listener during his first four years.

Our leaders shouldn't base all their decisions on poll results, sure, but hey... if most of the polls suggest Bush's Social Security plan is unpopular, why doesn't he back off on it?

As for impeaching Bush, that would probably not be possible under the current setup (the GOP basically controls just about everything)... unless he is caught red-handed at something pretty extreme, and unless the media is willing to report it to the public. Even then, I'm not sure our Senators and Congressman would have the guts to start any proceedings.

Believe me, I wouldn't mind seeing it happen, though! I think the country is in trouble, and I think Clinton has been out of office long enough that the conservatives can stop blaming him for everything... and take an honest, objective look at the guy they elected.

2:37 AM  

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