Democrats handed Bush the Iraq funding bill he wanted, and in the process handed responsibility for the war's continuance back to the Republican Party. At the same time, a majority of Republican voters now realize that the "surge" is failing.
Jim Lobe at IPS has all the sordid details -- and here are the highlights:
Even as Congress moved to approve President George W. Bush's request for continued funding of the Iraq war through the end of this fiscal 2007, a major new poll released Thursday found that public disillusionment with the war has reached record highs.
The New York Times/CBS News poll, the latest in a series of recent surveys that have shown an unexpectedly sharp drop in support both for Bush and the war...
According to the survey, which was conducted May 18-23:
- More than three out of four citizens (76 percent) now believe the Iraq war is going badly -- up from 66 percent just a month ago. A record 47 percent of respondents said the war was going "very badly".
- Perhaps even more important, a majority of 52 percent of self-described Republicans say the war is going at least "somewhat" badly -- a whopping 16 percent increase from mid-April and a strong indication that pressure on Republican lawmakers, who have remained remarkably loyal to the White House in a series of Iraq-related votes this spring, to abandon the president is increasing.
- Only 20 percent of respondents said the surge -- which is designed mainly to tamp down sectarian violence in Baghdad -- was improving the situation in Iraq. Three in four respondents, including a majority of Republicans, said the additional deployments, which are expected to be completed by mid-June, was either having no impact or was making things worse there.
- The new survey also found that 61 percent of Americans now believe that invading Iraq was a mistake, as opposed to only 35 percent who believe hat it was the right thing to do. The 26-percent spread was the widest found in any major national polling on that question.
"We seem to be seeing a reaction to the anticipation that the surge might make things better," said Kull about the latest figures. "The conclusion that this is not really working seems to be consolidating, particularly among Republicans."
Bush himself appeared to recognise that perception during a press conference early Thursday in the White House Rose Garden which he opened by welcoming Congress' imminent approval of the compromise bill that will provide the war funding he wanted virtually without conditions.
He soon found himself on the defensive, however, repeatedly appealing for patience from the public in permitting the surge strategy to take its course, particularly in light of what he said he anticipated would be a particularly violent summer in the run-up to a scheduled September assessment by the strategy's author and commander, Gen. David Petraeus.
- The poll found that 63 percent of respondents agreed with various proposals by the Democratic leadership that combat troops should be withdrawn no later than the end of next year.
- At the same time, nearly seven in 10 respondents said Congress should continue funding the war, but only if the Iraqi government meets a number of specific benchmarks set by the U.S. for progress in achieving national reconciliation and in prosecuting the war. The pending appropriations bill includes such benchmarks but permits Bush to continue military operations regardless of whether the benchmarks are met.
- Only 30 percent of respondents in the latest poll said they approved of Bush's performance as president -- near his record low of 28 percent in a Newsweek poll released earlier this month and markedly lower than the roughly 35 percent average of all major national polling this year.
- Moreover, 72 percent of respondents said they believe that the country is "seriously off on the wrong track", the highest percentage ever recorded for that question since it was first posed by a Times/CBS News poll in nearly 25 years ago
Seventy-two percent -- Almost 3 out of 4, believe this country is seriously of on the wrong track. What a mess.
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