US voters are waking up to the reality of Iraq

Share

The "war on terror" was supposed to be the trump card of George W Bush in his battle to win a second term

The "war on terror" was supposed to be the trump card of George W Bush in his battle to win a second term. America's economy might be in the doldrums, and the occupation of Iraq an increasing failure, but, the theory ran, the President's perceived ability to keep the country safe would be enough to see off Democrat John Kerry's challenge in November. Not for the first time in this campaign, the conventional wisdom may be wrong.

Yesterday's poll in The Washington Post is perhaps the most alarming yet for the Bush camp, not because it shows the Massachusetts senator with a narrow lead, or because Mr Bush's approval rating remains below 50 per cent. Such has been the message of such surveys for weeks, as scarcely a day goes by without more bad news for the White House. Until now, however, the President has consistently rated far higher than Mr Kerry in how voters view his effectiveness in dealing with terrorist threats. No longer.

Finally, it would seem, the penny has dropped for American voters: far from making them safer, the invasion of Iraq has been al-Qa'ida's most effective recruiting agent yet, fomenting anti-Americanism around the world, and turning Iraq itself into a so-called "Super Bowl" of international terrorism. Indeed, Mr Bush describes Iraq as "the central front" in the "war on terror". Now Americans are taking him at his word, and they are not impressed by what they see. The poll suggests that, albeit by a statistically insignificant margin, they now trust Mr Kerry to do a better job of it.

Publicly, Bush supporters claim it is a miracle that their man is as close to Mr Kerry as he is, given the Iraq prison abuse scandal, the ever-rising US casualty toll, and the mounting evidence of administration mendacity, both over Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and the insinuation that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks. If the 30 June transfer of sovereignty goes relatively smoothly, they say, and the focus shifts from the US presence in Iraq, the President will be in good shape for the only poll that matters, the one on 2 November. In private, however, the worries are surely growing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 2 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time Year 2 Primary Teach...

Early Years Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Bradford

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time Higher Level Teaching...

Reception Teacher in Bradford

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Reception Primary Teacher in Bra...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014  

Announcing my transition from male to female means that I am finally free, at last

Stephanie Hirst
 

Daily catch-up: Recall Bill, pangrams and buildings that never were

John Rentoul
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album