The Politics of the Herd
                            by Gene L:yons

                       Politicians aside, nobody flatters the great lowing herd of American voters
                      more assiduously than the press. With headlines like “Bush Approval Rating
                      in Free Fall” appearing for the first time since President Junior’s father
                      lost his 1992 re-election bid, this would ordinarily be a good time to praise
                      the wisdom of the American people.

                            Indeed, there are heartening signs that Junior’s hold on the crucial
                      Moron-American vote is slipping. Once their attention has been fully
                      engaged, voters most often do make intelligent decisions. The problem
                      is that they’re so distracted and inattentive that they’re easily fooled.
                      Consider the results of a Knight-Ridder poll recently reported in the
                      Kansas City Star.

                            According to the survey, fully 83 percent of the public endorses
                      attacking Iraq “if the United Nations backed the action and it was carried
                      out by a multinational coalition.” Despite Junior’s allegedly charismatic
                      leadership, however, support for war plummets to 32 percent in the absence
                      of U.N. allies. Fully 63 percent of more than 1200 adults questioned would
                      oppose the U.S. going to war alone against Saddam Hussein.

                            More than two thirds, 68 percent, think that U.S. should continue to use
                      diplomacy to disarm Iraq by peaceful means. Only 27 percent favor
                      quick military action.

                            One could argue that the numbers illustrate the political trap President
                      Junior has set for himself. Strong majorities favor taking action if and when
                      U.N. inspectors find Saddam’s legendary nuclear or chemical arsenal. But they
                      also want proof, and they don’t believe that Bush has provided any.

                            The most remarkable thing about the Knight-Ridder poll, however, was
                      how little the public actually knew about Iraq despite months of White House
                      drum-beating . “As far as you know,” pollsters asked “how many of the
                      September 11th terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens, most of them, some
                      of them, just one, or none?” Here’s what they said:

                            Most: 21%
                            Some: 23%
                            Just one: 6%
                            None: 17%
                            Don’t know: 33%

                            The correct answer, of course, is that there were no Iraqis involved
                      in the 9/11 attacks—not one. Most were from our wonderful ally, Saudi
                      Arabia. How any sentient American could fail to know that is a mystery.
                      I’m confident more could identify Jennifer Anniston’s husband or the
                      Oakland Raiders quarterback.

                            Another question: “Do you think Iraq and Al Queda—Osama bin Laden's
                      organization—are allied and working together to plan new acts of terrorism, or not?”

                            This calls for an opinion, hence there’s no sure answer. It’s nevertheless
                      striking that 65 percent believe that Saddam and Osama are, as the movie cowboys
                      Junior impersonates would say, in cahoots. Despite the CIA’s best efforts, however,
                      there’s no evidence of an Arab popular front. To bin Laden, Saddam’s the worst kind
                      of heretic. Odious as they are, the two represent totally different world views.

                            “Those polled who showed themselves to be most knowledgeable about the
                      Iraq situation,” noted Knight-Ridder’s Martin Merzer “are significantly less likely to
                      support military action, either to remove Hussein from power or to disarm Iraq.”

                            Here at Unsolicited Opinions, Inc. we were first struck by this phenomenon soon
                      after President Junior delivered an October speech attacking Saddam. In what the
                      Washington Post later called “a flight of fancy,” he claimed that Iraq had a fleet of
                      pilot less airplanes capable of  “missions targeting the United States.” In reality, Iran
                      and Turkey were the limits of their range. Earlier, Bush had cited a 1998 report by the
                      International Atomic Energy Agency that supposedly declared Saddam to be six months
                      away from building nuclear weapons. No such report existed.

                            A Gallup Poll soon appeared in which 79 percent said they believed Saddam had nukes.
                      As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had previously observed about Junior’s
                      absurd budget numbers, “Mr. Bush has made an important political discovery. Really big
                      misstatements, it turns out, cannot be effectively challenged, because voters can’t believe
                      that a man who seems so likable would do that sort of thing.”

                            A few days later an unrelated item noted that Americans had finished last among
                      industrialized nations in geographical knowledge. Only 14 percent of students aged 15 to
                      24 could find Iraq on a world map. Think about it: four in five Americans felt threatened
                      by a nation whose location was a complete mystery to most.

                            What this means politically is that far from nurturing dreams of empire like the
                      perfervid ideologues around President Junior, Americans mostly just want to graze
                      Wal-Mart in peace. It doesn’t appear to have registered that if the White House
                      geniuses really thought Saddam capable of attacking with “weapons of mass destruction,”
                      the well-publicized U.S. troop buildup in Kuwait offers the fattest target since Pearl Harbor.

                            Readily fooled by a politician as relentlessly disingenuous as Bush, the browsing herd
                      of Moron-Americans won’t blame themselves should things go terribly wrong. They’ll
                      simply stampede in the opposite direction. and hundreds of thousands were there.

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