April 12, 2004

People are not answering the question pollsters ask. This poll (which Instapundit called attention to today) really amazes me:
A Time/CNN survey taken [April 8] showed that 48 percent of Americans said they believe the Bush administration did all it could to prevent the [9/11] attacks, up from 42 percent in a poll taken March 26-28. A CBS News poll, also conducted yesterday, showed 32 percent of Americans said the administration did everything possible to stop the attacks, up from 22 percent the previous week.
Surely, with hindsight, we can see that there are additional things that might have been done! So why are so many people expressing this belief, which if true would be terrifying? It would mean that there is no way to anticipate the next step terrorists will take and to do something to squelch their new and surprising plans. I would like to think that, spurred by 9/11, our government is now getting out in front of the terrorists. I think that the 48 percent who said to the pollsters that nothing more could have been done don't really think that, but are answering the question that way as an expression of support for the President, based on a confidence that there he really is doing much more now than before 9/11, a forgiveness for not having operated at the highest level of vigilance before 9/11, and a weariness over the efforts of his political opponents to score points by scouring the record to find things to blame him for. The question should be: Do you blame President Bush for not having done more to prevent the 9/11 attacks? I think that is the question the 48 percent imagined they were answering. If the question where actually asked that way, I think the percent supporting Bush would be much higher.

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