I was listening to The Young Turks (on of my favorite talk shows) on satellite radio last evening on the way home from work and caught a discussion about this CNN poll. In particular, they were debating who or what’s to blame for this rather disturbing poll result:
Asked whether former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 52 percent said he was not, but 43 percent said they believe he was.Of course, Hussein, while being a bad, bad man, demonstrably had nothing at all to do with 9/11. That’s just a fact. A poll showing 43 percent believe otherwise may seem disturbing at face value. I mean, even the president, despite the best efforts of his administration, admitted recently that Hussein was not involved.
The guys on The Young Turks were arguing whether this false perception was the fault of the media not getting the message out or getting it out incorrectly, or if it’s the fault of the public that doesn’t bother to be informed. I think there’s a third explanation for this poll result and I’ll get to that in a minute.
First let me say that there is a certain percentage of the population that does think Hussein had some thing to do with 9/11. Many of these people aren’t paying attention and don’t know the difference between Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Kareem Abdul Jabar. There are also those who may be losinly paying attention and know that 9/11 happened then we invaded Iraq so there must be a connection. I’ll be generous and say maybe 10% of the population falls into one of these categories and are part of the 43% CNN poll result.
But what about the other 33%. Hmmmmm…isn’t that about the same percentage of people who continue, no matter what, to give President Bush positive approval ratings? Why, I think it is. Perhaps this hard-core, Bush-loving constituency, while not actually believing Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 are going to tell a pollster they do to offer cover for the president. With all other rationales for the Iraq debacle having been proved false (WMD, et al), it’s nice to pretend we had to get Hussein because he directly attacked us on 9/11. Maybe they think if enough people claim to believe there is a connection, it will then be considered fact.
Anyway, that’s my best guess as to where this 43% is coming from. Remember, polls don’t always tell us what people think, only what people want pollsters to think they think.