Alienating Independents

Interestingly, Bush and Cheney seem to be quite willing to alienate independent and moderate voters. Cheney says that people who question the administration’s handling of Iraq intelligence before the US invasion are “dishonest and reprehensible“, while Bush calls those who criticise his decision to go to war when they first supported it “irresponsible“.

It turns out that, in so doing, Bush and Cheney are describing a substantial portion of the American public.

Polls pretty consistently show that about 55%-60% of the American public now thinks that the Iraq invasion was a mistake. In fact, about half of those people who now think Iraq was a mistake actually thought that invading Iraq was a good idea in March 2003. So when Bush tries to demonstrate that some Democrats are “irresponsible” and “rewriting history” by contrasting their statements of support for Bush in 2002 with their current criticisms of Bush, he is also implicitly applying those same labels to the one-third of Americans who have gone through the same disillusionment with Bush’s Iraq policies.

Meanwhile, about 55%-60% of Americans now think that the Bush administration misused the intelligence evidence that was available before the invasion, up from around 40% in March 2003. Cheney apparently think that those people are “reprehensible”.

Does it seem like a good strategy for the White House to label large fractions of the American people – and almost certainly the vast majority of the one-third of Americans who consider themselves politically independent or moderate – “irresponsible” and “reprehensible”? Personally, I don’t think that such attacks are going to do much to make moderate and independent voters like the Republican party.