Monday, April 30, 2007

Defending de-funding

Pretty much every poll these days seems to indicate two things:

1. A majority of Americans want to get the smeg out of Iraq, with all deliberate speed.
2. A majority, however, also oppose doing so via de-funding the war.

If one understands what de-funding would actually do, this makes no sense--a majority wants to get out of Iraq but opposes the most obvious thing Congress could do to achieve that end.

The sense I get, though, is that people in fact don't understand this. They assume, I suppose understandably, that the phrase "cutting off funding to the troops" means we'd just stop sending them supplies, or something. The troops will still be in harm's way but they won't have ammunition or armor because Congress cut off funds.

That's absurd, of course; if funds were cut off, the military would simply be forced into withdrawing the troops, precisely the result a majority wants to see. If they don't understand this, I think it's a failing of the press.

The media, in my opinion, should spend less time asking people what they think about ideas like de-funding the war, then writing articles about the numbers that produces, and more time making sure that people actually know what they're saying yes or no to. Of course, it's not a new problem. Remember how they were more interested in informing us that a majority of Americans thought Saddam helped plan 9/11 than in explaining that he very clearly did not?

Except maybe it's more like how the media and the Republicans tried to manufacture a scandal out of the fact that Clinton was letting donors sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. The Lincoln bedroom is not Abraham Lincoln's bedroom--it has some Lincoln artifacts in it, but Lincoln slept in the master bedroom like every other president. Besides, George H.W. Bush let everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Kenneth Lay sleep in that room, and the press didn't seem to think it was any big deal.

But articles about the "scandal" never seemed to bother with this information, so people were left with the impression that Lincoln's sacred, previously untouched sanctuary was being desecrated.

So the fact that people are always being asked if they favor "de-funding the war," without being told what that would actually do, is a lot like that. Only way bloody serious, this time. Come on, reporters. More reporting, please.

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