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The numbers are in, and they indicate that the Democrats overplayed their hand, and badly. According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats reject forcing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from office during wartime due to the actions of soldiers in the field:
Seven in 10 Americans said Rumsfeld should not be forced to quit, a view held by majorities of Republicans, Democrats and self-described political independents. The survey comes a day after President Bush gave Rumsfeld a vote of confidence, and as Rumsfeld faced stiff questioning by members of Congress enraged that they were kept in the dark about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. ...
Republicans and Democrats largely agree on the seriousness of the allegations, the scope of the problem and the future of the secretary of defense, but differ dramatically when it comes to Bush's role in the process and the wisdom of the Iraq invasion in general. Across the partisan spectrum, majorities of Republicans, Democrats and political independents said this kind of abuse is unacceptable, no matter what the situation, and about half in each group said they are either upset or angry about it.
At least six in ten in each group said that the soldiers involved should be charged with a crime. But majorities of Republicans (82 percent), Democrats (58 percent) and independents (73 percent) said Rumsfeld should not be forced out of his job over the prison scandal, but also agree the reported incidents are serious.
It would be hard to imagine a more shocking and dispiriting event to occur in the war than the revelation that American troops engaged in the disgusting behavior seen in these photographs. Some Democratic politicians, seeing an opening to exploit, have used the natural revulsion and profound disappointment they created to beat Rumsfeld over the head for the past few days. But as the polling states, not only have they failed to convince Republicans or independents -- voters they need to win in November -- but they can't even convince their base that Rumsfeld should be kicked out during wartime.
Kerry, who just yesterday called for Rumsfeld's removal, obviously has some explaining to do. His rush to judgement demonstrates his lack of seriousness regarding the war on terror and in leadership. He had the chance to show some genuine leadership by calling for passions to cool until Rumsfeld had a chance to respond and more facts became known. Once again, he put his presidential aspirations ahead of his nation's security and tried to exploit a bad situation for his own personal gain.
Expect the Rumsfeld meme to fade quickly from the headlines.Sphere It View blog reactions
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