Yesterday, in an attempt to rally the conservative base before the midterms, Bush’s press secretary Tony Snow had a sitdown with Rush Limbaugh. Snow urged listeners to take the media’s portrayal of gloom and doom in Iraq with a grain of salt, saying: “The war is more popular in Iraq than it is in the United States because the Iraqis actually get to see the Americans in action.”
Now, no one expects Limbaugh to keep a close tally of the facts, but sitting in a recording studio shouldn’t give his guests, especially those from the White House, carte blanche to mangle the truth. Considering that Iraq couldn’t be much less popular stateside (“most polls show that only a third of Americans approve of the President’s handling of the situation), Snow’s remark is akin to Bush pointing at Robert Mugabe and saying, “hey my approval ratings are higher than that guy’s.”
Even using a low threshold of popularity as a basis for comparison, sentiment in Iraq towards U.S. forces hardly seems convivial. To put it in perspective, a recent poll done by Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes, found that six in ten Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. Moreover, it found that 78 percent of Iraqis think “the U.S. presence provokes more violence than it prevents.” These findings are confirmed by the State Department’s own poll that found two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. The dismal situation in Iraq can be described as many things, but “popular” probably isn’t one of them. In any case, it’s safe to say that the White House’s version of truth always comes with a not-so-small margin of error.