There they go again. Despite a mountain of clear polling data, The New York Times still refuses to admit that the vast majority of Americans support President Bush's war to topple the dangerous regime of Saddam Hussein and liberate the people of Iraq.
In a front-page story on Saturday, reporters Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder unveil a Times/CBS News poll that finds 70 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq -- an increase of 19 percentage points in only 10 days. But the paper of record won't let it rest there.
Most of the story talks about "deep partisan divisions" surrounding the conflict. And this just in: According to the Times, Bush enjoys far greater support from Republicans (93 percent) than he does from Democrats (50 percent). This alleged political division is even more intense when it comes to the president's overall approval rating: 95 percent of Republicans favor the Texan, compared with only 37 percent of Democrats.
What Nagourney and Elder failed to report from that very same poll is that independent voters strongly favor Bush on the war (65 percent) and approve of his overall performance (66 percent). They didn't mention this once in their story. As we know full well, it is precisely these independent swing voters who now determine elections in America. Yet, in their infinite wisdom, The New York Times chooses to ignore this fact.
If the Times' reporters had dug a little deeper, they might have reached the conclusion that what the poll really shows is how isolated the wartime Democratic Party has become. On war, Democrats fall 15 points below independents in their support for Bush. On overall approval for Bush, that gap widens to an astonishing 29 points.
Unquestionably, the Democratic Party doesn't think much of George W. Bush. Why? Because the majority of grass-roots Democrats are antiwar and care little for national-security issues (they also dislike tax cuts). This is why the president was so successful in the GOP midterm election sweep. It might even be true that the Democratic Party has lost more ground since last November.
Certainly the specter of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle saying Bush "failed so miserably at diplomacy," rather than condemning the egocentric ranting and raving of French President Jacques Chirac, is nothing short of a self-inflicted political wound. Equally problematic for Democrats is the apparent popularity of antiwar presidential candidate Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who is wowing Democratic state conventions, and absorbing the political oxygen from more responsible candidates like Richard Gephardt and Joe Lieberman.