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"The Pulse of America"

By R343L in Op-Ed
Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 09:48:26 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

The last few days I've been reading CNN and just out of curiosity I opened up the results for one of the polls (you can find it at http://www.cnn.com/2001 /US/09/15/america.under.attack/ at least for a while.) The question was "If Afghanistan does not hand over Osama bin Laden, should the U.S. bomb Kabul?" Answers: Yes or No. As of my writing this the answers were Yes: 77%, No: 23% (765,449 votes.) This disturbed me -- we don't really know who did it yet. Granted, the question did imply that bin Laden was assumed to be the perpetrator. But still...

Also, realizing these aren't scientific I wondered about other polls. There are problems with Gallup and the like but here are some results.

I was most interested in how blood-thirsty my fellow Americans are. I admit I am somewhat bloodthirsty, even as I realize a military solution will probably "work" only if the US kills everyone else in the world. I at least want to know who actually did it. I still don't buy that it is Osama bin Laden (but that's another story).

You've probably all heard the figure already saying that 90% or more of Americans are in favor of military strikes. Gallup has that at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914b.asp along with other tidbits. Some figures:

  • 71% of Americans want to wait until we know who actually did it.
  • 21% are willing to strike "against all known terrorist organizations even if it was unclear who orchestrated the attacks."
  • Only 4% do not support military strikes.
  • Two press polls mentioned include determining Americans' willingness for war casualties, etc. From the Gallup article:
    The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans support going to war even if it means "getting into a long war with large numbers of U.S. troops killed or injured." The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 83% support "even if it means risking further retaliation and the threat of war."

I also wondered about the President's approval rating. We all realize that President Bush is considered by many to be a lackluster president. I know that not too long ago Bush's approval rating was sitting around 50% or lower. Gallup has some poll data on that at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914d.asp.

  • Over many polls, Bush's overall approval rating has jumped 20 points to a value between 72% and 86% according to different polls.
  • Bush's approval rating for his handling of the attacks is at 91% in one ABC News/Washington Post poll.
  • The Gallup release notes that the largest rally effect was for George Bush Sr's announcement at the start of the Persian Gulf War, also 20 points.
  • Even stranger to me, the congress-critters' approval ratings are up. Really up. At their highest level ever measured -- 75% in a CNN/Time Poll (I assume the more scientific variety). Previously Congress' approval rating was a dismal 42%.

The explanation that comes to mind is simply these are war numbers -- the president and congress (government in general) are always approved of more during a war. In other words (and the Gallup articles discuss this) we Americans believe we are at war. War presidents are often forgiven for many things (Wilson kept us out of war, but then he got us into it; Bush Sr. was in the Iran-Contra affair and presided over a recession). Bush Jr. hasn't been the best president but now he is a war president -- and so we approve.

I know poll numbers are always suspect and don't say everything. But it looks like America wants a war. The media, Congress and the President aren't the only ones (well, unless we citizens are being led by the nose). But I'm in that 70% even though the other half of me says that's silly, primitive, uncivilized and will probably do no good. Look for me next year at an anti-war rally or maybe in the army. One half of my brain might have beaten the other senseless.


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Should the United States use military strikes?
o Yes, against any terrorist or terrorist harboring country. 19%
o Yes, but only against the groups or countries who committed this attack. 15%
o Yes, but no innocents can be killed. 14%
o Yes, but only to bring the perpetrators to some kind of court. 21%
o No, we should talk the perpetrators into the world court. 14%
o No, no matter what. 7%
o Other 8%

Votes: 57
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o http://www .cnn.com/2001 /US/09/15/america.under.attack/
o http://www .gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914b.asp
o http://www .gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914d.asp
o Also by R343L

Display: Sort:
"The Pulse of America" | 25 comments (15 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
War (3.75 / 12) (#1)
by DeadBaby on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 03:44:36 AM EST

I know poll numbers are always suspect and don't say everything. But it looks like America wants a war.

No, America didn't want a war. We could have started one ourselves if we did.. We had one handed to us by people we know are being funded and protected by various governments around the world on Tuesday.

Anytime something really hits home people feel unsafe. In this case, the only thing that could be done to even begin to repair the damage done is to wage war on those who waged war on us. It's a natural enough response, it's nothing to be ashamed of.

If this isn't a reason to go to war exactly what would be? I can't really envision any act being more able to justify a massive blood bath by this country.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Now, now, you don't really mean all of this... (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by CoolArrow on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 09:55:17 AM EST

You should listen to some of the other "reasonable people" here and get in touch with your "inner Mass Murderer", and I'm sure you'll become another mindless drone, er I mean bright energetic young, popular, hipster who knows that the victim, especially a "godless-bastard-heathen" like we Americans are ALWAYS to blame!

"Attention All Planets of the Solar Federation! We have assumed control! We have assumed control!
We have assumed control!

[ Parent ]
It's a matter of how quickly (4.66 / 6) (#6)
by R343L on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 10:46:48 AM EST

I was upset, but it wasn't my first reaction to go blast the hell out of Kabul because bin Laden, a posssible suspect might be there. I am just surprised how quickly Americans went from "Oh my god, this is horrible" to "This is so horrible we should blast the hell out of any terrorists." Think about it: if the poll numbers are correct, a large minority favors blasting the hell out of any country with terrorists in it no matter who dies. And practically the rest want to blast the hell out of the country that "harbors" (in Bush's words) the terrorist that did this. Never mind that most of the people there can't be considered responsible--they probably have even less ability to choose their government then Americans do.

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

It's been said or implied so many places already (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by CoolArrow on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 09:46:22 AM EST

No doubt a sitting presidents poputlarity rises in this situation. Just like it will rise even more after a military manuver of somekind.

I don't think that it's unique to the U.S., however I'm only a citizen in the U.S. no where else, so I'm not qualified to say that one way or the other.

The movie "Wag the Dog" comes to mind.

But then again if you want Ollie Stones version you'll have to wait 30 years and sit through 4 hours or so of everyone from the lowest buck-private on the dog catchers squad to Dick Cheney being involved in a massive conspiracy to raise presidential ratings by killing American citizenry.

Too depressing to even think about....

I had only heard the one 90% figure (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by R343L on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 10:53:22 AM EST

I thought this was interesting because I had only heard that >90% of Americans approved military action and >90% approved of Bush's handling of the situation on television. Thus I wondered about other numbers when I saw CNN's choice of poll and its results.

You're probably right that it happens in every country (I don't know for sure either). But it just seems surprising how quickly all of them up from dismally low to (near) record highs.

As for conspiracy theories, I don't need Oliver Stone...I have my own. :) Less depressing that way...

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Not always (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by davidduncanscott on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 09:20:06 PM EST

Just like it will rise even more after a military manuver of somekind.

Only if it works. Jimmy Carter's hostage rescue comes to mind.

[ Parent ]

Look at the question from the opposite side. (3.80 / 10) (#8)
by jeremiah2 on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 12:08:48 PM EST

Why shouldn't they extradite bin Laden? In fact, why shouldn't they have extradited him long ago? He's bee implicated by the evidence in this sort of thing for many years now.
Change isn't necessarily progress - Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit
No proof? (2.75 / 4) (#11)
by Dlugar on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 02:33:53 PM EST

My guess is that they don't have enough proof to actually get him for anything. I'd be willing to wager that, whether he was behind these things or not, circumstantial evidence is all we've got.


[ Parent ]
no no no (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 11:00:13 AM EST

Usoma bin Laden has admitted to being responsible for the deaths of a number of Americans and people of other nationalities he does not like.

The reason he hasn't been extradited is that to many supposed Muslims he is considered to be a religious hero, and a war hero against the Russians.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Yeah, it's a poll, and guess what? (3.83 / 6) (#9)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 01:09:44 PM EST

It means squat.

A lot of people can't help being in an eye for an eye mood so soon after the attack.

They're mad, they're frustrated, they're confused. Give America a few days, I guarantee that fewer people will want to just randomly bomb the capital cities of the governments who don't cooperate.

I hope you're right (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by R343L on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 03:16:18 PM EST

But how will we know? The administration will probably still be out for blood and the media will report that...
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Food for thought (3.50 / 4) (#22)
by generaltao on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:30:28 PM EST

"We have seen the face of evil. We can no longer stand idle and watch as this evil assaults our innocent people. The evil-doers will soon learn what we are made of. It is time for us to strike back, and we will strike back hard."

Who said this? Is it George W. Bush, or Osama Bin Laden?

Food for thought.

Neither? (none / 0) (#25)
by R343L on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 10:11:28 PM EST

Frankly, that kind of rhetoric could have been just about anyone in history. Tony Blair's been pretty blood-thirsty, as of course Bush has been. Bin Laden is of course possible too.... Can I cheat and say all of them have said something semantically identical to this? :)

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Other Countries (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by malcolm on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 12:42:28 AM EST

A phone poll here in Australia showed 69% of people in favour of "America retaliating with force", and 70% in favour of the involvement of Australian armed forces if the US does attack. These are backed up by similar numbers in a ninemsn poll. However, only 26% of people thought bombing Afghanistan would sole the problem of global terrorism.

67% of people thought that Australia is now at greater risk of terrorist attack, and only 11% think that the Taliban will hand over Bin Laden.

The current poll is on whether the US should limit it's military response to air strikes, so far 64% say no. It's unfortunate they don't have alternatives - it would have been interesting to see what people think they should do.

Sorry to everyone for not responding sooner (none / 0) (#24)
by R343L on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 10:09:42 PM EST

I had thought this died in the queue so I wasn't checking it. I've also had a really slow connection lately so I haven't even visited k5 too often.

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del

"The Pulse of America" | 25 comments (15 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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