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Bush Beats Clinton
October 18, 2001 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Bush Beats Clinton in latest poll on who Americans would want to handle the current terrorist crisis. The amazing thing is that the poll wasn't even close! September 11th really did change the course of American politics. (via Political Wire.)
posted by flip (40 comments total)

 
I'm no fan of Bush in general, but yeah, I think he's handing things pretty well.
posted by Hima Otsubusu at 9:21 AM on October 18, 2001


gee, what a fair and unbiased poll.
let's rewind about 2 monthes and see what the polls would say then.
posted by moz at 9:21 AM on October 18, 2001


The point is who you want in a crisis... there was no crisis two months ago!
posted by flip at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2001


Well, this poll is pretty worthless, and I'm not saying it because of the end result. I mean, regardless of who you voted for (or not at all), we're stuck with the guy and so by default Bush must lead us out of this crisis. I mean, I'd rather have John Wayne in the driver's seat, but alas.
posted by ethmar at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2001


Whereas I would rather have Yoda.
posted by Hildago at 9:30 AM on October 18, 2001


I wouldn't have voted for Bush, but in his defense the man seems to know his own limitations (ok, he ran for president, but....) He's surrounded himself with savvy people and he knows how to take advice. And to his credit he's been taking it.

I can't comment on what he will do, just what he has done, thus far.

The choice was between Gore and Bush. What do you think Gore would have done differently....better?*

*Real question, not trying to make a point, interested in any responses.
posted by lucien at 9:33 AM on October 18, 2001


What do you think Gore would have done differently....better?

Pre or Post attack?

I believe that Gore wouldn't have turned his back on things like the Racism Conference and Kyoto Protocol and then sharply announced that the world was either "with us or against us" after the attack.

But that's just me.
posted by ethmar at 9:36 AM on October 18, 2001


ethmar: good point. Maybe the reason why people like W. are so much better in a crisis is because, due to their normal way of behavior, they're used to dealing with people mad at them.

I don't know about Bush vs. Clinton, but I definitely am glad Gore's not in charge right now.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:41 AM on October 18, 2001


flip:

i'm a little confused, so bear with me. my thought is that asking a group of people who they'd rather have in a crisis: bush or clinton. correct? we can thus deduce two facts: one, people have seen bush act in this crisis; two, we have not seen clinton act. this is all a matter of course, because bush is the president and clinton is not. does that seem fair to you?

i'm sure that president bush's approval ratings have also climbed, and there is no doubt a correlation between his approval rating and his ability to act in this time of crisis. that leads to quite a bit of bias on the side of the polled, i would believe.

had the question been asked 2 monthes ago, it would be much more meaningful, because neither clinton or bush had at that time ever had to deal with such a crisis. my question to you: how do you know they would not approve of clinton just as much as they do of bush right now?
posted by moz at 9:46 AM on October 18, 2001


Bah. I didn't vote for Bush, am supportive of his actions so far, but he hasn't done anything out of the ordinary.

The only thing I'd attribute to Bush rather than anyone else in the same position would be his use of the word 'crusade'. No president in recent memory (or even Yoda) would have made that blunder.

I'm behind the guy, but it's sort of a no-brainer. Denounce the attacks? Call them evil? Talk to NATO, get world support, and attack those that harbor the terrorists? Why would anyone do anything different?
posted by jragon at 9:47 AM on October 18, 2001


moz: I totally agree with you. Two months ago, there was a widely held perception that he was an idiot, a dangerous cowboy or both. Fortunately, he has proven the cynics very wrong.

Americans don't have to speculate on who could handle this situation better anymore. Now they know.
posted by nobody_knose at 9:48 AM on October 18, 2001


"we have not seen Clinton act"

huh? lets's look at how many opportunities we had to see Clinton act: Hmmm…oh yeah, off the top of my head I can think of a few instances:

There was the OTHER WTC attack, the Kobar Towers thing, uh, there was the Cole bombing, and there was that guy in Iraq who continued to attack his own people and make threats against the US.
posted by nobody_knose at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2001


I'm behind the guy, but it's sort of a no-brainer. Denounce the attacks? Call them evil? Talk to NATO, get world support, and attack those that harbor the terrorists? Why would anyone do anything different?

Yup. So far, we've reacted in an alltogether predictable manner.

But the poll is nothing but flat out partisanal poll-crap. No former president would second guess a sitting President in time of war so how can a poll fairly compare Bush's response when Clinton's (armchair) response is unknown?

Furthermore, I just did a scan of www.politicalwire.com and they do nothing to explain on their index page: Who they are, what their political affiliations are etc. But judging by their article headlines, they are ...um...not wanting for bias or polarity.
posted by BentPenguin at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2001


i thhought this was funnier when we were all trying to get in airgirl's pants (the headline definately made more sense to me then).
posted by danOstuporStar at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2001


ethmar: why do I never hear about Europe's abandonment of the Kyoto treaty? can you even name how many of them have actually signed it?

that thing is the biggest straw man I've ever seen.
posted by nobody_knose at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2001


Here's Clinton's CIA Director on how Clinton would have dealt with this: ""The other, less generous possibility is that the Clinton administration was engaged here in its trademark behavior of focusing first and foremost on spin, expectation-adjustment, and short-term public relations, and deriving policy therefrom. If you assume that all terrorism flows from loose networks and not state action, then you will usually be able to find at least someone who was involved in a terrorist attack to convict. You can then claim success, get some good press and avoid confronting a state. The alternative approach--a thorough search for any state actor--presents two PR risks, neither attractive. If you find no state actor, there might be the appearance of an investigative failure. If, on the other hand, you find that a state was involved, you might then risk confrontation, even conflict, and possibly body bags on the evening news." From Opinion Jounal. Just sickening.
posted by flip at 10:01 AM on October 18, 2001


Well I would think that I would have felt safer with the idea that my president is just sleeping around with interns while the war is being waged, rather than the idea that my president is starting crusades and giving "sublimilimoninal" messages about a long term war and my vice president is probably striking oil deals for his "real" job.
posted by adnanbwp at 10:08 AM on October 18, 2001


"Two months ago, there was a widely held perception that he was an idiot, a dangerous cowboy or both."

That's still the widely held belief. Hence the interest in this post. We're all a little surprised he hasn't f'd things up.

But..... if we (as he says) need to live through several years of war with no clear victories, and we add on top of that a recession, no capture of Bin laden, near constant terrorist attacks, etc, I think the polls will do the same thing they did after the gulf war.

Any bets that the Democrats will use the slogan "It's the economy stupid" in the next presidential election?

As to the original question - Bush or Clinton to handle this attack. Hell, I'll take Bush any day. Clinton sucked at this sort of thing. It's not even a contest.

But after the shooting dies down we're going to need to use diplomacy to end the hatred and the war on America. I'd much rather someone like Clinton handled that. As long as Arabs see the US as evil they're going to keep blowing us up and poisoning us. I don't think Bush gets that part. We need to distance ourselves from the misery that too many Arabs live in. We didn't cause the misery, but as long as we're friendly to those that did we'll be a target.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2001


Is there any reason behind this poll--and post--that doesn't amount to simple partisanship?

America: United, Except for maybe You
posted by Skot at 10:12 AM on October 18, 2001


nobody_knose:

are you honestly comparing the cole bombing, the WTC bombing, et. al to what happened on 9/11? i don't buy that comparison. the only thing close to the scale of the 9/11 tragedy, in my mind, was the oklahoma bombing, and i think clinton went about business appropriately then.

flip:

what was the original and -- i assume, more generous -- possibility that the clinton administration would have pursued? and why does your quotation use the past tense with the word "was" when discussing what i assume to be the WTC attacks? there no longer is a clinton administration to do anything during this crisis. you'll have to quote it, because i'm not going to bother with your subscription link.
posted by moz at 10:19 AM on October 18, 2001


Americans don't have to speculate on who could handle this situation better anymore. Now they know.

Logic doesn't come very naturally to you, does it?
posted by jpoulos at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2001


moz: clealry, NOTHING is on a level with 9/11.

The truth is, however, that Clinton's weak, poll-checking, "finger in the wind" response to each of those events encouraged and emboldend the people behind the WTC/DC/Pennsylvania attacks.

there's nothing you can do about a suicide bomber after the fact, but you can go after his funders, support network and harborers. this a problem that has to be destroyed at the root.
posted by nobody_knose at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2001


The truth is, however, that Clinton's weak, poll-checking, "finger in the wind" response to each of those events encouraged and emboldend the people behind the WTC/DC/Pennsylvania attacks.

Oh? And you know this because . . . you say so? If this were the case, why did they wait until the "weak" guy left office and the arguably(?) more hawkish guy got voted in?
posted by Skot at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2001


Maybe they waited for a more hawkish president because Bin Laden wants a big time war against the infidels.
posted by flip at 10:42 AM on October 18, 2001


why do I never hear about Europe's abandonment of the Kyoto treaty?

...because "Europe" didn't declare a press conference to later tell the world that they were "with us or against us" on another issue?
posted by ethmar at 10:47 AM on October 18, 2001


> Americans don't have to speculate on who could handle
> this situation better anymore. Now they know.
>
> Logic doesn't come very naturally to you, does it?

Well, where's the illogic? We've seen Dubya after the WTC attack and we saw Slick Willie after the USS Cole bombing, so we have a basis for direct comparison.

Willie's response was a brief spasm of shooting missiles at what may have been a munitions factory in the Sudan or may have been a pharmaceuticals factory, and what may have been a terrorist gathering including Bin Laden in Afghanistan or may have been a retreat for Islamic physicians.

In both cases the American "response," such as it was, was dropped like a hot brick the moment the need to distract the American media from Monica Lewinsky was over. The inescapable impression left on the Taliban leaders, on Bin Laden, and on anyone else with an anti-American fixation and an itchy trigger finger was that they could blow up a U.S. target and the U.S. response would be -- not much. Think maybe Willie's stab at "crisis management" laid eggs that would hatch in the future? I do.
posted by jfuller at 10:48 AM on October 18, 2001


The only good thing that comes out of MeFi discussions on poll results is that it often points out why poll results make for bad discussions.

We've seen Dubya after the WTC attack and we saw Slick Willie after the USS Cole bombing, so we have a basis for direct comparison.

Direct? Apples != oranges.

Why do I never hear about Europe's abandonment of the Kyoto treaty?

Possibly because it hasn't been abandoned, as Tony Blair reiterated in his conference speech: "Kyoto is right. We will implement it and call upon all other nations to do so."
posted by holgate at 10:54 AM on October 18, 2001


In fact, Bush is capable of doing well in this situation partly because of actions Clinton took. Clinton was arranging a commando raid on bin Laden when Pakistan's government was overthrown (maybe even that was one reason that it was). Then he laid two years of groundwork with Uzbekistan which is serving us well today.

Has he gone after the network and the funders? We froze Afghanistan's overseas assets, and those of some 20 terrorist groups believed connected to him. We chased down and convicted people involved in the 1993 bombing, one by one. We tried to chase down people in the Khobar Towers job, but our oily ally Saudi Arabia executed the guys before we could connect them with anyone.

flip, how selective a quotation can you choose? You printed only what the author himself labels the "less generous" interpretation. That's hardly objective.

jfuller: I believe you have only proven how dangerous it is to weaken and distract a president through specious grand jury investigations and pointless impeachment proceedings. I lay that at the feet of the Republicans. They knew from the beginning that the process would not e successful in the Senate, yet still chose to go through with it, not out of principle, but because they knew it would interfere with the then-White House agenda and mean an expense of political capital that would prevent legislative success. They cared not a whit that they were leaving the President without a mandate for effective policy action.
posted by dhartung at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2001


holgate: yes, yes, I'm very aware of the lip service being paid to Kyoto. could you please tell me how many have signed it as of today? thanks much.
posted by nobody_knose at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2001


> Direct? Apples != oranges.

Mmmm? I do see certain commonalities between one anti-US suicide bombing and another. In any case, don't take refuge in cliches. Of course one can compare apples and oranges, in which case one sees similarities and differences.
posted by jfuller at 11:10 AM on October 18, 2001


I find it interesting that people talk about 'finger in the wind, poll taking' approaches to dealing with issues. We're in a democracy here. Our elected officials must balance their own convictions with the will of the people.

Or you could be Nader/Buchannan and make almost no positive difference. Oh yeah, you'll have your conviction and 3% of the vote. Rah.

Bush was very lucky -- he was handed an agenda that happened to fit his own hawkish slant. But what if, for whatever reason, the American people *didn't* overwhelmingly support a war?

I think Bush would have gone ahead anyway, not checking polls, and ultimately paying for it. Welcome to politics.
posted by jragon at 11:18 AM on October 18, 2001


Of course one can compare apples and
oranges, in which case one sees similarities and differences.


But then one must take those differences(apple;orange COLE; WTC) and add them into the equation. I could say, well both oranges and apples can be used to make juice! You would then say, 'So how come President Bush made a half cup of juice already with his orange--just using his bare hands-- while President Clinton produced nothing. And I would say 'Well, President Clinton was handed an apple. With an apple, you need a machine, a cider press perhaps, to make the juice.

And you would say 'See. This is all we get from the Clinton folks. More Clinton-Spin!.'
posted by brucec at 11:44 AM on October 18, 2001


There was the OTHER WTC attack, the Kobar Towers thing, uh, there was the Cole bombing, and there was that guy in Iraq who continued to attack his own people and make threats against the US.

Hmm. Yeah. That Iraq guy that W's daddy failed to removed from power. Suuuuure that's Bill Clinton's fault.

You also failed to mention that on Bill's watch the terrorists *failed* to blow up LA's airport or any of the other terrorist attacks that were foiled. Don't give credit for "pro-active" (god, I hate that non-word) responses huh? Only when the shit has already hit the fan? < rolling eyes >
posted by terrapin at 11:55 AM on October 18, 2001


I do see certain commonalities between one anti-US suicide bombing and another.

I wasn't objecting to the act of comparison, but rather your premise of how they should be compared. Hence my "Direct?", the question mark indicating that I questioned your use of the word "direct". Anyway, brucec and terrapin point to why the comparison is silly: since the WTC was only damaged and not destroyed while Clinton was in office, does that mean he protected the country better against terrorist attacks? Does the absence of an attack on the Pentagon mean that the Clinton administration did a better job of defending the Department of Defense, and that Osama bin Laden regarded Bush as more vulnerable? Is Clinton to be lionised because the only suspicious white substance associated with his tenure was quite different in character from anthrax, and is in fact celebrated for its life-giving properties?

If we're going to use tenuous 20-20 hindsight to interpret the last eight years, it can work both ways.
posted by holgate at 12:23 PM on October 18, 2001


Look, Bin Laden didn't wait until Dubya was president to launch an attack...he's been attempting this very thing for YEARS! The fact is, the 9.11 attacks got through our defense systems (military, security, intelligence, etc.). To think that terorism against america STARTED recently is to do disservice to all the men and women out there working their asses off to keep these kind of things from happening.

You could say that Clinton did a BETTER job of keeping attacks against US CIVILIANS by a foreign national at bay than Bush did. After all, it happened on Dubya's watch.
posted by Dantien at 1:03 PM on October 18, 2001


holygate, the US Cole was attacked when vulnerable Clinton was prez....this mess started when Clinton launched his Monica missles.
posted by Oxydude at 1:05 PM on October 18, 2001


ethmar, I'm not sure if you are still reading this but thanks for the feedback. Since you asked, my intention was to include Bush's performance post attack however you included that period and they are indeed cogent points.
posted by lucien at 1:08 PM on October 18, 2001


Oxydudey:

Alternatively, "this mess" -- that you put it so vaguely is telling in itself -- started when Daddy Bush simultaneously turned Saddam into a caged attack dog while fucking up a settlement with the USSR on funding the opposing sides in Afghanistan. Or with Reagan's funding of the "freedom fighter" mujahedin. Or with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Or with the birth of Muhammed. It's a futile line of argument to assume that there was one true path of wisdom. We'll all choose our set of mistakes or missed opportunities. So to apply this kind of retrospective second-guessing is absurd. Are you arguing that because of an attack made with a boat full of explosives, more akin to the unsophisticated tactics of Palestinian suicide bombers, Clinton should have made the mental leap to guess that the terrorists' next move would be to train themselves up to fly planes into buildings? If so, you are Edward de Bono, and I claim my fifteen dinars.
posted by holgate at 2:25 PM on October 18, 2001


If only Clinton had put a bunch of people in the room, reading Ed de Bono's book. They would
have prevented this for sure.
posted by brucec at 2:40 PM on October 18, 2001


clealry, NOTHING is on a level with 9/11

While I understand the meaning behind this statement, there is still something intrinsically bothersome about it. Do we have to set particular limits on what's offensive and actionable? Is it 500 dead and/or one destroyed building? Is it 150 anthrax cases? Is it 3 serial murder victims?

If it's only the scale that counts, why go after ALL terrorists? Isn't it because of their intent? If WTC had miraculously resulted in one sprained wrist from wresting a boxcutter from the hijacker's hand, shouldn't the outrage be as high? They meant to kill thousands of innocent people -- failure to succeed should not excuse them from punishment.

I understand that the sheer amount of butchery has horrified people and galvanized them into action; I don't like the marginalization of other victims simply because there weren't as many as in WTC.

One innocent victim or 6,000 should be answered with the same vehemence. (And before it starts: aiming at the guy with the gun and accidentally hitting someone else is NOT the same thing as intentionally killing a defenseless child.)
posted by joaquim at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2001


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