Monday, April 05, 2004

who's to blame?

OK, so here's the question in my mind at the moment: what's the significance that people seem to be blaming both Clinton and Bush administrations equally for 9/11? See latest CBS News poll at Polling Report: Based on the facts coming out of the 9/11 commission, it seems clear that the Clinton administation was significantly more focused (more on this later). So why does there seem to be the (false) perception that both administrations were equally lax?

In this case, I think I have an answer to my own question, although I'll be looking to see if someone more savvy than me takes up the issue. Here's what I think: the most obvious conclusion, based on the poll data, isn't true.

Now it's easy for anyone not liking poll numbers to simply choose not to believe them. Stupid citizens, we say, believing the spin and ignoring the facts. And maybe there's a bit of that here, blaming Clinton has certainly been high on the Bush spin top 40. But I'm going to go even farther out on a creaky limb and say I'm not sure poll respondents believe what they said they believe. I think people have their own little spin machine going.

Americans don't want to think their president sat back on the range in Crawford and let 9/11 happen. It's a sickening thought, and too many people have invested their faith and admiration into GWB these past two years to make indicting him in any way comfortable. So they're facing facts, but doing so is giving rise to a lot of tension. And they're blowing off that tension by blaming Clinton as well.