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New Poll: Growing Popular Demand for Truth about Iraq War
Political Affairs Magazine
By Joel Wendland
As President Bush's approval rating sinks to around 37 percent, another poll number related to his job performance is up. This number is not good news for the White House, however.
A recent survey commissioned by the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition revealed this week that at least half of Americans agree that Bush should be impeached if he is found to have not told the truth about the reasons to go to war with Iraq.
Conducted by a survey and public opinion outfit that provides similar surveys for the Associated Press, this poll shows an eight-point increase since a June poll done by Zogby that asked a similar question about impeachment.
The new poll found that 50 percent agreed with the following statement:
"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him."
Only 44 percent disagreed, representing a six-point drop since the Zogby survey.
"The results of this poll are truly astonishing," said AfterDowningStreet.org co-founder Bob Fertik. "Bush's record-low approval ratings tell just half of the story, which is how much Americans oppose Bush's policies on Iraq and other issues. But this poll tells the other half of the story – that a solid plurality of Americans want Congress to consider removing Bush from the White House."
Those who responded to the survey and identified themselves as Democrats favored impeachment if Bush is discovered to have lied by nearly a 4-to-1 margin over those who identified as Republican. Independents favored impeachment over Republicans by close to 3-to-1.
Support for impeachment was strongest in the West, the Northeast, and the South.
The results of this survey come on the heels of a June 23-26 ABC/Washington Post poll that found 52 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration "deliberately misled the public before the war," and 57 percent say the Bush administration "intentionally exaggerated its evidence that pre-war Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical or biological weapons."
Meanwhile, support for the continued occupation of Iraq has crept downward with some polls suggesting that as many as 60 percent of Americans want a withdrawal plan as soon as possible or immediately. Nearly as many have indicated that they regard the Iraq war as "not worth it."
Popular sentiment against the war and growing concern about continued occupation took public stage on the weekend of September 24th when up to 300,000 peace marchers filled the streets of Washington, DC, calling for troop withdrawal immediately.
"We will, no doubt, see an increase in activism following this poll," said David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org.
But Swanson is less sure that the media is much interested in covering such a major story. According to Swanson, three major public opinion shaping institutions – the media, political leaders in Congress, and public opinion polls themselves – have dropped the ball.
"The media are waiting for action in Congress. Apparently it's easier to find and interview one of the 535 members of Congress than it is to locate a representative of the half of the country that wants the President impeached if he lied about the war," says Swanson.
According to AfterDowningStreet.org’s press statement, efforts to build momentum for an official investigation of whether or not the White House misled the public on the reasons for war has met with a Catch-22.
Though the media already accepts that Bush did lie about the war, telling peace activists who wanted more stories about the Downing Street Memo that it was "old news," many editors and publishers say they would consider focusing on the story only if public opinion is stirred up in favor of impeachment.
Public opinion monitors like the Gallup organization told AfterDowningStreet.org, which asked the polling firm to include questions about impeachment in their surveys, that they would do so only if the media and political leaders made it a major issue.
And we know political leaders only move when poll numbers suggest they might benefit from doing so.
The solution? The peace movement will have to sidestep the leading institutions and publicize existing popular sentiments against the war and in favor of an official investigation of the White House’s role in using intelligence to start the war. It will have to continue to pressure the media and political leaders that public opinion supports decisive action for accountability.
AfterDowningStreet.org is a coalition of peace organizations, veterans groups, media, and other organizations that formed in order to pressure Congress to investigate what the Bush administration knew about the Downing Street Memo and related documents.
These documents, which can be downloaded at AfterDowningStreet.org are British government memos and minutes of meetings that record the opinions of several high-level British officials that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence about Iraq in order to support its cause for going to war with that country.
--Reach Joel Wendland at email@example.com