Saturday, October 08, 2005

The benefit of the doubt factor

When you give someone the benefit of the doubt what are you giving them?

The answer is time, time to deliver.

During the 2004 presidential campaign the country was starkly divided on the Iraq war. There were those for President Bush's policies in Iraq and those against them. But, the election was decided by the swing voters. The "benefit of the doubt" crowd. They gave Bush time, time to deliver.

Now, almost a year after the election, the bill is coming due. The President is desperately trying to keep the attention on the enemy and the importance of the fight in Iraq. Regardless of his effort the country is increasingly focused on his failure to deliver.

The resulting political situation is an apparent disconnect. The American people want to hear about a shift, they want a change in tactics, a bold leadership move. Bush, however, cannot deliver anything like this. He has painted himself into a corner. In order to satisfy the public he would have to appear before Congress to request troops, money, and support for a change in strategy. This would be and admittance of failure and he is to arrogant for that. So he is forced to pretend what he is doing now is working.

He is fooling no one. Or, more truthfully, he is fooling no one who isn't in love with him anyway. So the public perceives a disconnect. While Bush must give big speeches about how horrible the enemy is and how hard the fight will be, the American people tune in to hear "we are changing our strategy in Iraq and this is what we are going to do". Hence the frustration. The more he talks around what needs to be said the lower his Iraq poll numbers will fall.

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