Brace For Shock: Americans Don’t Trust September Report

I know, I know.  It’s tough to believe, but a recent poll has discovered that a majority of Americans (granted not a huge one) already say they don’t trust the report, and believe that it will be dressed up to make things in Iraq seem better than they are.  Polling Director Keating Holland continues to explain that the results are not so much a referendum on General Patraeus so much as they are a reflection of the public’s general lack of distrust in the way the administration has presented the war until now.

I’m not surprised.  In fact, what I believe we are seeing is a phenomenon that I’ve only briefly mused over in the past; Systematic failure of the Head of State.

It’s not really that complex of an idea, if you want the truth.  You can call it the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” syndrome, or the “beyond the point of no return” system, or even the “FUBAR” syndrome of presidential politics.  They all apply.

What is first needed to understand this is the unique role the President plays not merely in politics but in all facets and scopes of American existence.  The President wears many “hats”; Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, Head of State, Head of Political Party.

Each “hat” comes with its own set of seperate responsibilities and limitations.  But while these are all seperate, it is also necessary to understand that their individual authority resides within a single individual.

Even in “bad” presidents, these hats have a tendancy to be rated individually.  Let’s take Jimmy Carter who has in the past been recognized as a bad president but a good humanitarian.  His great failing, of course, was as a chief executive when he proved completely incapable of effectively handling domestic crises like the oil shortage of the late seventies, however as a head of state one could make the case that his zeal in addressing and engaging other leaders around the world showed him to be marginally better in this area.

You see this all the time in assessing prior presidents.  Though the concept of hats may be eschewed from the vernacular, people will say so and so was good with the military, but not great on domestic issues, or, this president was a good diplomat, but terrible when it came to wartime.

The point is simply this, most presidents retain a level of compitence and credibility to at least be recognized as performing some of their job adequately.  Or, in other words, usually a president is capable enough to prevent his failures in wearing one hat don’t transfer over towards the opinion and credibility in wearing the rest of the hats being a president entails.

In a systematic failure of the Head of State, however, this is not the case.  Essentially what happens is a point of no return is crossed, this could be in only one of the responsibilities of the President, or in several.  What occurs, however, is that his perceived credibility in ALL of his responsibilities drops to an effective zero.  He is no longer trusted in just one of them, but all of them.

Further, and this is the most important part, the effect becomes irreversable, and self feeding.  Understand that the President’s many jobs are not single input taskings.  This is not like someone on an assembly line who merely slacks off at work, but with a little prodding can catch back up.

The end user also has input on how a president does his job.  For instance, take the example of the Head of State.  In the role of Head of State, the President acts as the nation’s avatar, the entirety of the hundreds of millions of our people channeled into a single human being as our sole representative.

But his successes abroad do not solely rely upon his efforts.  They are also at the whim of those other heads of states with whom he meets, though it should be noted that those whims will largely be rated upon past performance of the president in his capacity as a kind of super-diplomat.

In the case of a total systematic failure, the president becomes perceived as incapable of performing any of his jobs.  Since perception greatly affects his ability to perform his jobs in the future, the end result is that the president has little to no chance to rectify the situation.

He is broken beyond repair.

It is my belief that this is exactly what we are seeing.  Perception of his competence, integrity, and credibility have dipped below this threshold with the ultimate effect being that if he should wake up tomorrow, and on day one choose to do everything right, meet with the right people, champion the right programs, enact the right military and diplomatic strategies, everything, he will still fail.

And this largely as a result to the end user input to every task he is charged with.

Bush is, essentially, trusted with nothing with the exception of those who share his specific ideological tendancies, and those who directly benefit from his narrow policies.  This would be the 29%ers to those who revel in his fall.

For the rest of the populace, the surge is the perfect example.  Bush at the beginning of the year made a case that he was finally going to recognize a few errors in his Iraq policy, and that he was finally on the right path.  Still, public opinion now sits with very little increases in public opinion.

And now we are told that regardless of what the September report contains, it is not likely to increase support for the surge by an appreciable amount.

It is because of this complete and total systematic failure of the head of state.  He is no longer trusted, not his words nor his actions.  I even question whether or not he would receive a significant increase in support for his presidency should he enact a troop withdrawal at this point.

He may, at this point, simply be a victim to the first six years of his presidency.

But this is, after all, just a theory, one that I develop as I observe this presidency in its waning years, so don’t go completely ballistic on me.  I think it will continue to remain a theory unless Bush actually does enact a vast policy change in a completely different direction, for one of the things that has caused this systematic failure has been his stubbornness to remain on his path this long. 

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