The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

CROOKS: THE PROOF

Digby, Saturday:
Many of us wrote a lot about certain memes the Republicans used to make the Dems look bad during the last few years. We are "soft" on terrorism, crime, morals --- whatever. Soft. It's a powerful primal image that they have used to great effect to put us on the defensive and turn the country to the right with coded slogans like "law and order" and "fight em there so we don't have to fight em here." It works because they've been saying it so long, and there is just enough truth in it, that people have internalized it.

But the Republicans have some baggage of their own that goes back just as far. They have long been associated with corruption and criminality in office and their poster boy is Richard Nixon, the father of the modern Republican party. "I am not a crook" has a resonance far beyond that moldy time. People know this, deep down, in their subconscious, just as surely as they know that Democrats are flip-flopping libertines. "Republicans are crooks." It just rings true.

These primitive heuristics cut both ways. If we choose to play that game, and we should, we have a perfect opportunity to portray the Republicans the way that people already think they are.
Gallup poll, today:
Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent said some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, in which the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was revealed.

The same percentage of respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said administration officials acted unethically, but did nothing illegal.

The poll was split nearly evenly on what respondents thought of Bush officials' ethical standards -- 51 percent saying they were excellent or good and 48 percent saying they were not good or poor.

The figures represent a marked shift from a 2002 survey in which nearly three-quarters said the standards were excellent or good and only 23 percent said they were fair or poor.
There you have it. And this is an issue where only a fraction of Americans really know the full details, so this survey says just as much (if not more) about perceptions as (than) it does about actual conduct.

Keep in mind that, disapproval of the Miers nomination notwithstanding, George W Bush's approval rating does have a floor of sorts, and that floor is his conservative base, around 30-35 percent. Only 10 percent of respondents said Administration members did not act either unethically or illegally. This probably means that up to two thirds of Bush's base thinks Administration officials acted either unethically or illegally, or both. (It's also possible that much the remaining 12 percent of the survey -- probably "don't know" -- comes from Bush's base, but that still leaves around a third of his base, which is still significant.)

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