According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll
, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the public into war. The 52/48 break on the question represents a nine-point shift in just the last three months.
Now, I'm not so sanguine about these numbers as to suggest the change in public opinion was the result of the publication of the Downing Street Memo and other leaked UK documents. Clearly there is a relationship between sentiment about the current state of affairs in Iraq and about how we came to be there in the first place.
But that is precisely the point. With every car bomb, every casualty, it becomes more important--not less--that we know the truth about why this war of choice was undertaken. It's unfortunate that so many must die before people begin to ask these questions, but at least they're being asked. We owe it to those who have fallen, and those who continue to serve, to demand the truth.
Put simply, Bush's Iraq policy is on borrowed time. The American people will not tolerate the current level of losses indefinitely, particularly in light of the fact that by any meaningful measure the conditions on the ground in Iraq are as bad or worse today than they were two years ago.
The administration can congratulate itself for turning over sovereignty, for the January election, and for the drafting of a new Iraqi constitution, but to most Iraqis these things are abstractions, utterly irrelevant to their day to day reality. When the citizens of Baghdad have access to clean drinking water, a functioning power grid and the ability to walk the streets of their own neighborhoods without fear of being shot, then we might actually have something to justify Bush's optimism. Until then, my advice is to keep the cork in the champagne bottle.