Early returns on President Bush’s desperate pre-holiday campaign to convince the American public that he has a plan for victory in Iraq are out. Much like his Social Security offensive this past spring, President Bush is failing to fundamentally change how Americans feel about Iraq.
– Six in ten Americans disapprove of President Bush’s handling of Iraq, which is essentially unchanged since public disapproval of his handling of Iraq increased above 50 percent earlier this fall.
— Fully 70 percent of Americans do not believe President Bush has a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq.
— Nearly six in ten Americans (58 percent) believe that President Bush is making things sound better in Iraq than they really are, compared to one third (33 percent) who say that President Bush is accurately describing the situation in Iraq.
Though these numbers are bound to shift slightly in President Bush’s favor as the public relations campaign continues, they are not likely to alter the overall structure of American public opinion on Iraq for two main reasons.
First, a majority of Americans no longer find President Bush honest and trustworthy. Actions and results will speak louder than words to a skeptical American public, especially with a president who is no longer seen as a credible leader by a majority of the American public.
Second, and related to the first, the overall trend since President Bush’s invasion of Iraq has been driven by events on the ground in Iraq.
– Brian Katulis