Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Those Ignorant Republicans (Part 1)

Those on the left have been loudly decrying Bush's supporters as ignorant. They even claim that the divide in America is not based on liberal vs. conservative or left vs. right but "reality based" vs. "not reality based". Reality based, a phrase that has taken on truly Orwellian dimensions.

One of the main pieces of evidence cited as proof that Bush supporters are not reality based is the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) survey decrying "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters". Over the next few days I'm going to examine some of the results of this survey and offer my opinions as to which answers best reflect reality.

The first survey question I want to tackle is:

Q13.Is it your belief that, just before the war, Iraq.[ARO]

Had actual weapons of
mass destruction 27%
Bush supporters 47
Kerry supporters 8
Had no weapons of mass destruction
but had a major program for
developing them 22
Bush supporters 25
Kerry supporters 18
Had some limited activities that
could be used to help develop weapons
of mass destruction, but not an active
program 37
Bush supporters 25
Kerry supporters 51
Did not have any activities related
to weapons of mass destruction 12
Bush supporters 2
Kerry supporters 22
(No answer) 2

Well, what is the best answer?

For the moment, let's ignore the fact that they have already found WMD in Iraq.

So pretending that never happened, what possible evidence could we have that Iraq had WMD prior to the war? Well, there's the undisputed fact that they had WMD in 1991. Then there's the fact that they were supposed to get rid of those WMDs and document it (according to about a dozen UN resolutions). Finally there is no documentation that they destroyed all of the WMDs they possessed in 1991. So given all of these facts, the inescapable logic apparently goes (1) they had the WMDs in 1991. (2) We have no idea what happened to them. (3) We have not found them in Iraq. Therefore (4) they must not have existed.


Now it would have been one thing if the question had asked "Have we found WMDs?" Yet another if it would have asked "Is there strong evidence that they were there prior to the war?" But the question is simply "Is it your belief that..."

Given that many on the left are using this survey to paint the republicans as clueless you would think that they would be able to prove that they are right. But where is the proof that Iraq did not have WMD before the war? Is there any proof of this at all? The fact is, we don't know. The WMD are probably not there now. But is it so hard to imagine that they could have been hidden, moved to another country or destroyed in the months leading up to the war? Is that so inconceivable that anyone who could possibly believe it should be tarred with the epithet "not reality based"?

Consider the results of another question from the same survey:
Q38. As you may know, Charles Duelfer, the chief weapons inspector

selected by the Bush administration to investigate whether Iraq had
weapons of mass destruction, has just presented his final report to
Congress. Is it your impression he concluded that, just before the
war, Iraq…
Only 19% of Bush supporters said that Duelfer had concluded that Iraq indeed had WMD. So contrary to the accusations, most of the Bush supporters interviewed seem to know exactly what the facts are. However, they are not willing to say that simply because we have not found any... sorry... many weapons of mass destruction in Iraq means that they could not have existed before the war.

The facts are these. They existed in 1991. After 12 years of UN inspections we have no idea where they are today. To conclude otherwise is pure speculation on either part. The "reality based" community wants you to believe that the only speculation you should believe is theirs, because they say it is so.

Sorry, but I remain unconvinced.


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