Thursday, September 30


There's a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll that demonstrates that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush largely misread his foreign policy positions, while Kerry supporters are mostly accurate in their assessments. Undecideds also tend to misread Bush’s positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, but perceive Kerry’s positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush’s foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly.”

This doesn't surprise me. For one thing, Bush speaks in doublespeak, so who wouldn't be confused? It's surely part of Karl Rove's game plan to deceive voters about Bush's agenda while wooing them with his persona. The mainstream media have also played a significant role in this pattern of deception by (for the most part and until very recently) neglecting or refusing to fact-check Bush's speeches and pronouncements and acting as megaphones for every Republican assertion. And surrounded by Republicans as I am at work, in my extended family, and in my social life, I am convinced that few Repugs do their own research but mostly act as a Greek chorus for their party and its leaders.

What amuses me about the report, though, is that Kerry, who is so often accused of being too long-winded and too detailed in his speeches, has somehow communicated much more effectively with voters than Bush, who is lauded for his "simple, clear, straight talk." Maybe Kerry's too nuanced for voters who are lazy and don't want to have to THINK, but he seems to connect with people who care enough about the issues (and the country) to pay attention.

Bush wouldn't know a straight line if it was a two-by-four and he was knocked over the head with it. He's much more comfortable (and successful) using silly-string speech that winds around, blows with the wind and makes a mess while being mildly amusing, but doesn't in the end have any substance.


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