Public Opinion Surges For The “Surge”

Which is to say that there is a small amount of improvement, but nothing significant that will result in any real kind of progress.  Hmm… actually quite fitting really.

I’ve neglected to put up a post on this all day for one reason, polls taken alone, outside of context, and without a full trend to back them up are for the most part worthless.  I know this from watching political campaigns as closely as I do; if I were to take individual polls with anything greater than a grain of salt, I would be alternatively slitting my wrists and then bandaging them up and heading out to the local bar to drink myself into a state of jubilant oblivion on weekly basis.

So while USA Today is showing some small poll increases in the country’s support of the Iraq War and the “Surge”, I was highly skeptical.  The increases were small, and even more important, even after the bump, any kind of improves support is still ridiculously minor; 31% should in no way bolster anyone’s opinion that all of a sudden America thinks we’re on the right track.

 Indeed, James Joyner of Outside the Beltway was almost as skeptical, and immediately debunked much of the claims by the little USA Today teaser.  Further, standing in the face of unchecked joy at finding out that some people may actually be supportive of the ailing strategy, MyDD further backs my own belief that this is essentially statistical noise

I’m no stranger to statistical noise, mind you.  Working in a lab with detectors whose job it is to monitor the radioactivity of both known and unknown radioactive nuclides, statistics becomes part of the job.  The idea being that while we have plenty of mathematical equations that can, with reasonable accuracy predict the behavior of an isotope, on a submacroscopic level, the actual atoms involved don’t necessarily adhere to the mathematics.

Polling trends, therefore, would be analogous to spectrums produced by a decently long count of a source, while individual polls are thusly analogous to individual atoms.  Sometimes both the atoms and the polls don’t follow the mathematics and this creates statistical noise.  Which is why you don’t bet the barn on a single poll, but instead on several polls tracked over an appreciable amount of time.

Ron Beasley’s take, over at Middle Earth, departs from the mathematical analysis and looks instead to the situation on the ground, providing equally sound logic.  July, as has been widely reported, the least violent month this year, which could result in a particularly fickle portion of the polling sample to waver on the issue.  However, this too points to particularly precarious position for the polling numbers.

As has been not quite so widely reported, while this has been a relatively peaceful month, it’s been a rather violent July.  Also, one can’t really take into account the validity of these polling results without also investigating the public’s awareness of the political failures of the Iraqi government, and the significance of that in the context of the surge strategy.

But this doesn’t stop the war cheerleaders from grabbing the pom poms and screaming GO TEAM!

Ann Althouse is clueless and befuddling as always:

It’s quite another to jubilate about narrowing the scope of the party and kicking people out of it and especially to exclude a historically important contingency — liberal hawks — that you might want to claim credit for some day. Looking at what happened in Congress over the weekend and at the growing support for the surge, I think Democrats may be approaching they time when they’ll want to talk about that part of their tradition.

You know, Ms. Althouse, everyone talks about inclusive parties and the like, and I gotta say, there are some people that should be excluded from the party.  People who, four years after the fact, still think Iraq was a good idea  and we should keep on chugging, yeah, that’s not really a helpful contingent.

Okay, I’ll bite and take a quick sidebar.  Joe Lieberman ousted himself from the party.  It was he who maintained a GOP party stance on the biggest issue of the day, and it was the voters of the Democratic primary who opted not to send him back up to the Senate under the party standard.  He could have stepped down and still been a part of the party.  That’s how the game works.  It happens every election cycle; people lose party primaries, and life goes on.

But Senator Palpatine wanted to keep his seat in the Senate, and wanted to shill for Republicans in regards to the Iraq war, so he had a very simple choice to make at that point; be a Democrat, or don’t be a Democrat.  He chose the latter.  He chose his own fate, and from most the rest of the party, I’m pretty confident in issuing a collective good riddance.

Back to what passes for sanity, “Captain” Ed, is showing cautious optimism, while the more bombastic Sister Toldjah engages in the more in your face kind of trumpeting one might expect:

I bet House Majority Whip James Clyburn and other defeatist Democrats like him were none too pleased to read the latest poll numbers on the surge, courtesy of USA Today

Yup, 31% has me shaking in my little space boots over this, let me tell you.

And from Wake Up America, we have this:

It is very sad to see that a group of people from our very own country are actively wishing for us to fail, even going as far as to refuse to listen to testimony when it reports progress in Iraq.

Which brings me to my final point.  I’m not actively wishing for us to fail.  I think that’s already happened.  I think there are maybe one or two things that could happen that would result in us not failing in the near future, maybe even winning, but in the long run, even those scenarios have dire consequences.

I and I think many of my colleagues over here on the left believe that the situation is so far more complex than winning or losing.  After all, how do you win a war of this nature, where we are not one of the parties directly involved?  Those would be the Sunnis, the Shi’a, and the Kurds.  If one were to take a realistic look at our current role in Iraq, we’re the referees, not the players on the field.

Aside from this, it’s not refusing to listen, it’s called skepticism.  Skepticism that any little tiny good bit of news in Iraq means we are about to win the day.  Skepticism that just because this administration says something will work  it actually will.  And skepticism that dictates that a poll number here or there doesn’t necessarily point to a broad change in public opinion.

I don’t want America to fail, but it’s important to understand when it has or when success by the currently defined metrics is either impossible, or not reasonably attainable under beneficial circumstances.  This is, in a word responsibility; knowing when you erred so that you can correct the errors.

Instead, there seems to be an appreciable portion of folks out there that have adopted the philosophy of the President; that we don’t make mistakes, and to suggest so is wrong, and anti-American.

But imagining those mistakes don’t exist doesn’t actually make them go away, it just leaves them for someone else to correct.

Personally, I’d like to get past this whole part of the debate so we can get to the correcting part. 

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