There is a new poll shown on Countdown with Keith Olbermann that shows that the American public's opinion has changed on Iraq. That means that the "story" about Iraq as some grand move to spread democracy, instituted legally and honestly can now be challenged. As the following polls prove, the public story on the Iraq war is now up for grabs. The Downing Street Minutes begin that process by reminding people how we got to Iraq in the first place. More discussion below the fold, but first, the polls:
52% No vs. 47% Yes
Was war in Iraq worth fighting? (the "was it worth it question")
58% No vs. 41% Yes
Has the U.S. gotten bogged down in Iraq? (the Vietnam quagmire question)
65% Yes vs. 33% No
Acceptable U.S. Casualties in Iraq? (the "war management" question)
73% No vs. 25% Yes
For the poll referenced, you can watch Keith Olberman's segment at dembloggers.com
Then, Rod Nordland from Newsweek, said that he was surprised that the American people had bought the administration's argument all through the 2004 election that "things were getting better" and that they hadn't arrived at this polling position much sooner. (Yeah, we've been beating our head against a brick wall, too, Mr. Nordland...)
Maybe they didn't arrive at this position sooner, but this poll shows that the American public is now fertile ground for planting the Downing Street Memo seed. Ultimately, this seed will grow into a public counternarrative about the Iraq war, beginning with how we got there in the first place. Showing the administration as a liar also reopens a debate about the president's credibility. Fresh off the social security failure trail and the Terri Schiavo fiasco, the American public may be just a little more open to hearing criticism of the president and alternative views on the Iraq war and the president's foreign policy.
It is hard to oppose a noble and just cause liberating the Iraqi people. Indeed, that is the very reason why the administration cast it this way. But, now the public, or at least a broader swath than is usually the case, is now more open to hearing a different narrative that supports their new-found skepticism about the president. That's where we and our moral outrage come in. We already know why the war is bogus. All we have to do now is tell them. The Downing Street Minutes provides us with a means of doing so, of beginning that conversation.
That's why the Downing Street Memo is important. It is the beginning of a counternarrative on the war. First we deal with how we got in (illegally), why the process wasn't followed, why the intelligence was fixed, why the way we did it didn't follow due process and was therefore illegal. Then, we deal with what we've done since we've been there(torture, war crimes, etc, all of which will be easier for the public to accept was more widespread rather than "limited to a few individuals" AFTER we've had the "we went there illegally" argument).
The difference between 52% in the security poll and the 73% in the casualty acceptability poll is 21%, showing plenty of room for growth for our position in the public's mind. The Downing Street Memo provides the beginnings of the counternarrative that will allow the American people to ultimately justify getting out of Iraq. Why? Because it shows the Bush Administration lying to the American Public about the war. And the American Public is newly-willing to hear such assertions against the president's credibility.
Ultimately, damaging the president's credibility will solidify his lame-duckedness and derail his and the rightwinger's agenda for the remainder of his term (a very good thing). That's assuming that this thing doesn't ultimately steamroll into an impeachment. Still, the "accountability moment" for this administration and the Republicans generally may be going through the next four years having to deal with a pissed off, skeptical American public as they slowly but surely change their minds, challenge the administration, dismantle their war, and ultimately bring them down.
It very well may be that the American people (accidentally) did a wise thing by electing Bush in November. Had Kerry won, Bush would just be sitting back at his Ranch right now, that the rightwing spin machine would be full throttle blaming the Iraq mess on Kerry. This way, though, we Americans may at least partially regain our national integrity. Can you imagine how much good it would do our image in the world if this administration were publicly impeached, publicly shamed for its crimes? Can you imagine the world of good it would do for this country to air out its dirty laundry and make a fresh start? To turn over a new leaf, as it were?
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and this journey, of truth, of action, and of accountability, all begins with the Downing Street Minutes.