September 24, 2003

NO BIG DEAL

Could be that the war in Iraq just ainít an election issue:

Almost 70 per cent of Australians believe John Howard misled them on his case for war in Iraq, a new poll shows.

However, about the same proportion still prefer him to Simon Crean as Prime Minister.

Significantly, the Herald/ACNielsen poll finds that two-thirds of those who felt deceived over the war believed Mr Howard had misled them unintentionally.

If the war isnít an issue, well, better find something else to get freaky about, Labor puppies.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 24, 2003 02:41 AM
Comments

here's an election issue for you...

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at September 24, 2003 at 03:25 AM

Shouldn't people be focussing on 2-party preferred rather than preferred PM? In that, the Coalition is leading by only 52-48.

Posted by: Andjam at September 24, 2003 at 03:49 AM

What do want?
Gay rights!
When do we want em?
NOW!

Posted by: Jonny at September 24, 2003 at 04:18 AM

Mr. Bingley, you beat me to it!

Ha! G'day fer a mate, mate?

Posted by: Joe G. at September 24, 2003 at 04:27 AM

The gay survey seems to be a hugely biased poll. Not even the now discredited Kinsey survey didn't find that high of a homosexual percentage.

It does, however, suggest something I have always opined; that is gays and lesbians are more sexually active (and, therefore, oversampled) than us heterosexuals. The other guys and girls have all the fun :(

Posted by: JFH at September 24, 2003 at 08:12 AM

Andjam

52-48 is a landslide. My memory tells me that the last election had a 52-48 split. Of course national polls aren't really much use, as elections are won and lost in the marginals.But if the Coalition was leading in those by a 52-48 margin the ALP wouldn't have many seats at all outside their heartlands.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 24, 2003 at 08:37 AM

Note to our Aussie friends (and elsewhere): Things are starting to build up in the States re this war. Senator Ted Kennedy has twice in recent days lowered both barrels at Bush - accusing him of making up the war from his ranch in Texas and generally of deceit. Bush called Kennedy's comments of two days ago "uncivil" but Kennedy went to the Senate floor today after the U.N. address and repeated (in so many words) the same charges.

A group of congressmen returned from a fact-finding trip and pretty much hammered the press for the negative reporting with a couple of representatives accusing the press of distorting things (one said only 27 reporters still remain in country; down from the 600-700+ that was there during the way) and were not covering events that were taking place outside of Baghdad.

Both sides are drawing their swords. When a big gun like Kennedy openly challenges your President, the party has to come to his defense. It's really getting intense; the latest polls shows Bush down to about 50-55% approval ratings; Dems smell blood in the water.

Geez, we don't need this when we're in the middle of a war.

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG at September 24, 2003 at 09:08 AM

Must have been based on a rough head count of the Sydney Homosexual Mardi Gras.On snapshots, it would seem there are rather a lot of pillow biters around. Wait a minute. That parade attracts homos. from all around Australia and around the world.Bang goes the 17% factor.

Posted by: d at September 24, 2003 at 09:32 AM

jfh, are people who are more sexually active over-sampled or over-sampling?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at September 24, 2003 at 09:34 AM

Joke:

An Aussie is visiting his Kiwi mate, who lives just outside Christchurch (South Island of New Zealand). They've just been out to the pub and they are driving back to the kiwi's place.

All of a sudden, the Kiwi sees this sheep with its head caught in the fence. So the Kiwi pulls over on the side of the road, gets out of his car, and starts fucking the sheep.

He finishes with the sheep and turns to the Aussie and says "you wanna a turn bro?". The Aussie says "yeah sure mate", and sticks his head in the fence.

Posted by: Jonny at September 24, 2003 at 09:35 AM

SMG,

Also, I dont think you need this when you're in the middle of a war.

Posted by: Rex at September 24, 2003 at 09:45 AM

SMG

Aren't the Democrats a lot of nancy boys? Not only that, they are also vicious cowards who hate the obviously superior President Bush with so much intensity that they are prepared to let their country fall to terrorism if they can defeat him with vile inuendo and blatant lies. Such was always the way with little men.
As for Edward Kennedy, the last member of a trio of deadheads and losers, all we have to say is "Kopechne", and we put him in the light in which he should be remebered, the fat tosser.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 24, 2003 at 09:54 AM

Yes, we definitely don't need columnists using phrases like "bafflingly impertinent." Ouch.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 24, 2003 at 09:56 AM

There is still a large crowd of people who get all respectful awestruck when they hear the name "Kennedy" because they think of John F., who has been enshrined in this country somewhat like the way Romans used to make gods of their emperors. The rest of the Kennedys (an undistinguished lot if you ask me, notable only for their very large, white teeth) have used this phenomenon to their own advantage.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 24, 2003 at 10:02 AM

Andrea makes a good point about the appeal of the Kennedys. To totally destroy and misquote a insight by P J Rourke in relation to this family, we tend to impute positive qualities to those we deem cute (well, cute and impute do rhyme).

The results of the survey indicate it may not be Waltzing Matilda we should be singing at the footy but "I will survive" or any Kylie tune post-Neighbours. What constitutes a relationship can be very broad. Having a quick snog with Barry the halfback at the back of the oval was a relationship in high school. Although I may have to confirm that with with you blokes.

Posted by: Darlene T at September 24, 2003 at 10:36 AM

My favourite Ted Kennedy story goes back to the 1988 Democrat convention, and their "Where was George?" attack on Bush-41.

The then Texan Leiutenant Governor, Ann Richards, led the chant. Teddy was going to do so, but word got out that the GOP was going to respond with "He was dry, at home, and with his wife."

Posted by: steve at September 24, 2003 at 10:41 AM

Rex:
The Kaplan column doesn't surprise me. Don't want to sound too partisan, but he's part of the Democrats who smell blood. Since I didn't see the address (it was given during mid-morning and everyone was at work), I'll have to read it.

Look, if Bush had sounded contrite (or sufficiently contrite to Kaplan), Kaplan et al. would have blasted him as well for not acknowledging his failed policy earlier, for not understanding our need for allies, for undermining the very institution he now needs, et cetera. Dammed if he does, dammed. . .

This worshipping at the altar of multilaterlism and internationalism is one of the chief problems with the Dems in this new world with its new threats. The UN is incapable institutionally in taking the type of quick action needed to prevent terrorism. That's why, by the way, Clinton avoided going to it when he went into Bosnia. He knew he wasn't going to get approval; things would be tied up for months while Milosevic slaughtered thousands.

Kennedy still has sway in America, particularly among the elites here. And he's a very powerful Senator despite being in the (slim) minority. He and his staff know the rules and procedures that can bottle up legislation. And Bush's awful debating skills makes him (Bush) a mismatch for Kennedy et al.

Dems sense an opening now - the drumbeat of Bush lies, the reporting (accurate or not) of the problems in Iraq, et cetera - has weakened Bush's general appeal to the public.

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG at September 24, 2003 at 10:52 AM

acually, rex, reading w's speech i think it's quite good and clear, and thus completely beyond the ken of the un.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at September 24, 2003 at 11:06 AM

SMG

Don't sepair. The public will see through the phony Dems. The President just has to keep his nerve, which experience shows he is very good at doing. All we have to do is keep up the direct grass roots campaign patiently explaining how the war on terro is being slowly won and why we must avoid letting the nancy-boy adolescents get their hands on the levers of policy. Oh yes and the Republicans have got to introduce "the guilotine" in the Senate.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 24, 2003 at 11:16 AM

SMG, Have you ever heard Ted Kennedy debate? If he isn't reading something written for him beforehand, he's terrible. Bush would mop him up on sincerity alone. ("Then I wandered around town in a daze" [until just before I called family consiglieri to find out how to avoid responsibility].) Also, the Kennedy mystique is fading quite rapidly, I think. Who is the last Kennedy scion to win a new position? Patrick? What, 12 years ago? Doesn't he have problems of his own?

By the way, if you paid close attention, at least two of those Congressmen complaining about biased press coverage in Iraq were DEMOCRATS.

Teddy lied, people died (and not just Kopechne). If there is one Democrat who might arouse more pesonal antipathy and arouse Republicans than Hillary Clinton, it's Ted Kennedy. As Kennedy goes, so goes Jim Jeffords. Big deal.

I'm still trying to see how a campaign built on returning Saddam to power and sucking up to the UN will play anywhere much than the Left coast and a few Northeastern states. Hardly enough to win a presidential election.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 24, 2003 at 11:24 AM

And don't forget, the Kennedys also had Marilyn Monroe killed . . . . oh grow up, of course they did!

Posted by: steve at September 24, 2003 at 11:42 AM

Spurious reasoning. A load of Poll-ocks.

Question - do you prefer Howard/Lib or Crean/Lab?

Answer - FUCK ME, IS THIS WHAT WE'VE COME TO?

Answering "Howard" does not necessarily indicate approval. The phrase "what's the lesser of two evils?" is ringing in my head, but I guess it's more a question of what's worse for the country - ingrained dishonesty or terminal incompetence? One fucks us over on purpose, the other fucks us over by mistake. Gawd 'elp us all...

But as for Bush - he's GONE. Dead man walking. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Posted by: Nemesis at September 24, 2003 at 11:59 AM

ignoring a recent finding of the U.S. intelligence community that the main, and most rapidly growing, threat these days comes from ordinary Iraqis, resentful of the occupation.

Bullocks. Is this person referring to this assessment which merely claims that there may be resistance from ordinary Iraqis in the future?

I think the problem is that the anti-war elements find it impossible to believe that ordinary Iraqis are not seething, whining and killing, so they change facts to fit their ideology.

Posted by: Andjam at September 24, 2003 at 12:11 PM

Toryhere:
Thanks. Not in despair - Eliot's line: There are no LOST causes because there are no WON causes. Everything, everyday is a battle anew.

I think the next 6 months are critical (with the acknowledgement that a day is a lifetime in politics). If things settle down (as I think they will), the economy continues to improve (5% growth next quarter), unemployment ticks down (under 6%), there's no way Bush will lose. None.

Right now the polls showing a Clark and Kerry even or slightly ahead of Bush are mere showcase polls. The overwhelming majority of Americans don't know who the hell John Kerry is; or Wesley Clark. Much less what their positions are on any issue. Clark will, as Dick Morris predicts, implode. There's no there, there.

Actually, Bush's declining popularity is due to his success in prosecuting the war. The percentage of Americans who say terrorism is their main concern has dropped precipitately (that's precipitately not precipitously). Under 10%. As that has dropped, concerns on the economy and healthcare rise; when those issues dominant, Dems do better.

Well, if Dean wins, I'm NOT leaving the country like our lefty friends do when they lose. You stay and fight for your country, for your cause, for your beliefs. Not giving up on America like Michael Moore has.

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG at September 24, 2003 at 12:29 PM

"Toryhere" memory is as faulty as his psephological maths:

52-48 is a landslide. My memory tells me that the last election had a 52-48 split.

Wrong, the 2001 tpp split was 50.3-49.7 Coals-Labs. It gave the Coals. a comfortable 15 seat majority.
A 52-48 tpp split might be a landslide, or it could be a comfortable victory. It all depends on the distribution, not aggregation, of the two-party preferred split. An "efficient" distribution of voter preferences can see a party with a minority tpp vote win, such as occurred in:
- 1990: Labs got 49.9% of vote & won 54% seats
- 1998: Coals got 48.9% of vote & won 53% seats
The Federal Electoral pendulum shows the Coals. hold around 22 seats with a margin of 5% or less. An accross the board swing of ~5% could easily turn that 15 seat majority into a 7 seat minority. An accross the board 2% tpp swing would see the Labs just fall over the line.
Mumble does the math:
There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives. The Coalition holds 82, Labor 65 and there are three Independents. At the next election on current boundaries Labor would need 10 more seats...Either way victory lies around the 1.7 swing mark. Altogether 13 Coalition seats have margins under two percent.

A ~2% swing is a quite plausible possibility, especially if the Labs engineer a change of leadership. The polls indicate that Crean is the Al Gore of the Labs - his personality deficit wipes out it's policy advantage. Of the 25% or so undecided, uncaring or marginal voters, some 61% would change their vote to the Labs if a non-Crean were leader. Given that ~50% of the marginal/undecideds would fall to the Labs in any case, that still leaves a turnaround swing of 2-3% that the Labs would capture if they dumped Crean.
Howard knows this and has been warning the party faithful against complacency or delusions of triumphalism:
If we lose eight seats at the next federal election we are gone, we are out of business and the Labor Party is the government not only in the eight states and territories but also at a national level.

The Labs owns the social equity issue.
Max Walsh spells out the government's unpopular social service reform policy:
The instinctive and unambiguous reaction by the electorate against John Howard's "Fairer Medicare" scheme should provide a reality check for those who imagine that a post-Iraq Howard is unbeatable at the next election.

The Libs own the cultural civility issue.
The SMH reprorts that the PM is unapologetic over his cultural conservatism, and a majority of Australian voters proabably share that opinion:
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has effectively declared victory in the so-called culture wars over the past treatment of Aborigines, saying that "people no longer ask me for an apology.

The election will revolve around a couple of issues beyond the control of the parties:
- : if the housing bubble bursts, it would spell doom for Libs
The SMH shows that the Coalitio's electoral advantage depends on precariously inflated prosperity:

Howard's nightmare is the bubble bursting suddenly and violently, shredding the family finances of those in the suburbs whose fortunes will ultimately determine his political fate.

- military security: if there is another terrorist attack, it would spell doom for the Labs.
Denis Shananhan shows that so long as the subject is security, Howard will prevail:
Howard has a commanding lead over Crean on leadership and much of this comes from his strong and decisive actions on border protection, against terror and on the war in Iraq.

If the Labs want to win they will have to dump Crean. Whether they do or not depends on whether partisan ambition can override factional loyalties or plain dumb stubborness.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at September 24, 2003 at 12:32 PM

Hi.

Tim thinks the news from opinion polling
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/23/1064082997799.html
in Australia is mainly good, because the war is clearly not an election issue. It's nice that Tim can find a good side to nearly anything. :) We can all use a bit of a cheer-up sometimes.

But in this case, I disagree. People are settling on what I regard as seriously wrong beliefs regarding the war on terror and by implication or alliance with the Americans, both of which I regard as a lot more important than the political future of John Howard.

If people agree that the war was wrong and Howard lied, but he gets off the hook because he in turn was deceived (by Blair's "sexed up" dossier? by Bush's fictitious "imminent threat"?), this embraces a complete fantasy and puts the "blame" on our allies for what was really a good and necessary war.

Kennedy is on the charge in America (thanks, SteveMG, I was aware of the story, but unaware of whether or not old Kennedy was still held to count in Democratic circles). And the BBC, while blatantly lying and as biased as possible, nevertheless has done harm to Blair. For doing the right thing, our leaders are less trusted, and dangerous false beliefs (even though they seem not to be relevant at the moment) do seem to be winning the day.

Fortunately, the contest for hearts and minds goes on, and maybe people will change their minds as the Americans, Brits and so on get over the hump in Iraq. Maybe when Saddam is caught, that will make a difference. I sure hope so.

And I think Bush, Howard and Blair will all win their next elections, which has to count for something. Which reminds me: does anyone know how the Poles are talking all this?

Posted by: David Blue at September 24, 2003 at 12:50 PM

Nemesis said:

Froth FROTH frothfroth froth froth.... froth!!!

My, that is some powerful beer you guys brew down there.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 24, 2003 at 01:00 PM

Aw gee, Andrea is picking on me again. Must go home and kick the cat. Or some other star spangled turkey.

More froth: Dubya in unusually self-aware mood:

"Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man, and those who deliberately take the lives of men and women and children without mercy or shame".

And without compunction, he might have added.

Or have I taken this out of context?

Posted by: Nemesis at September 24, 2003 at 01:16 PM

Nemesis:
Ah, the newly-discovered concern over the suffering of the people of Iraq. For two years, we heard not a peep from many on your side of the aisle (not all, to be fair) about the Iraqi people's suffering. But, wait, what's that we here today? Some noise?

As Christopher Hitchens pointed out when he left the, well, Left, the Left is arguing in bad faith. For years, they were concerned about the Kurds in the North, the Shi'a in the South, the Marsh Arabs in the Northeast. But all of those concerns disappeared into the mist when plans to actually help those people were drawn.

Then, the placards for the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs, the Shi'a were put away and replaced with the Bush=Hitler, USA=Nazis signs.

But if you had your way, Saddam would still be in power. Thousands would still be tortured, and shot, and maimed, and arrested. And not a word from you about them.

SMG

Posted by: SteveMG at September 24, 2003 at 02:20 PM

Mr Strocchi

You do your argument no favours by quoting from the mere speculations of the ALP luvvies at the Silly Moaning Hilmer. I also note that you use an ALP front organisation's website for your figures.

I agree that the two party preferred is not a good way of judging electoral outcomes. But I also think that you proved my point when you mentioned that the split in the last election was 50.3-49.7. After all that was a lot less than the current poll numbers and the Coalition won comfortably. The fact is of course is that the ALP does a lot better out of preferences than the Coalition. So the higher the Coalition TPP the better the Coalition will do.
In many seats of course TPP is irrelevant, as preferences aren't counted when a candidate gets more than 50% of the primary vote. I've often wondered whether this is really taken into acoount when we get the TPP figures?

Posted by: Toryhere at September 24, 2003 at 02:51 PM

Psephologists' corner. I hope Malcom Mackerras doesn't weigh into this or we'll be here all day.

It will still be wrong, of course.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 24, 2003 at 03:24 PM

SMG - You are a know-nothing fool. What you do not know is that I have campaigned vigorously and publicly for over ten years for a better deal for the people of Iraq.

Notwithstanding this, nothing in my posts above says anything about them. But you've clearly picked the fight you want, rather than focussing on the real problem. Dubya would love you.

Not deterred by your deap seated ignorance, you simply assume for me a certain persona, and invent an entirely spurious and irrelevant argument. Little wonder your positions are so insubstantial.

Your bleatings are as uninformed as your stance is unintelligent. With specimens like you supporting the war it is little wonder the anti war side is so convincingly in the ascendancy at present.

You are merely a joke we've already heard.

And it wasn't even funny the first time we heard it.


hugs,
Nem.

Posted by: Nemesis at September 24, 2003 at 06:44 PM

nemesis has CAMP-PAINED vigorously and vehemently for a better deal for the people of iraq for over ten years.. PRAISE THE LORD!! ( you did fuck-all didnt you nemo)?

Posted by: roscoe p coltrane at September 24, 2003 at 08:01 PM

Nemesis,

Why don't you set us RWDBs straight by telling us what you did to help get a better deal for the people of Iraq?

By the way, the name calling was a nice touch.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at September 24, 2003 at 08:07 PM

Nemesis is the archetype of the people described by James Lileks last week:

" The same people who accuse America of coddling dictators are sputtering with bilious fury because we actually deposed one. "

And not by bombing everyone from 15000 feet like Clinton in Kosovo or Bosnia, but by going in and getting the bastards.

E.S.A.D, Nimmy.

Posted by: SDN at September 24, 2003 at 10:21 PM

And not by bombing everyone from 15000 feet like Clinton in Kosovo or Bosnia

Or Afghanistan under Bush?

Posted by: Andjam at September 24, 2003 at 10:39 PM

Hey Jack! (Strocchi, that is).

Don't point the finger too hard at "Toryhere" for deficiencies in his "psephological maths" - your own aren't all that flash.

If the 22 seats with a coalition margin of less than 5% changed hands, the coalition would fall from a 15 seat majority to a 29 seat deficit, not the 7 seat one to which you refer.

Otherwise, I think your post is excellent - a wise caution to enthusiastic Howard supporters to avoid triumphalism and complacency. I'm just a picky bastard, OK?

TFK

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at September 24, 2003 at 11:58 PM

And not by bombing everyone from 15000 feet like Clinton in Kosovo or Bosnia, but by going in and getting the bastards.

also, osama and saddam are both still at large.

Posted by: adam at September 25, 2003 at 01:14 AM

Nobody knows if Osama is still alive - the more they work through his greatest hits reel with recycled footage and taped-over commentary, the less it looks like he is still around. Saddam may be still sucking wind, but he is somewhat less of a threat in his burka disguise than he was previously, no?

From a strategic perspective, if they aint dead, they might as well be.

Posted by: R.C. Dean at September 25, 2003 at 04:13 AM

Saddam and Osama are either dead or unable to function openly, thus eliminating their visability which was key to their power. Whether or not we end up finding out where they are is of less importance than continuing the work of stabilizing Iraq - where the people, according to two polls (one was Gallup which is no friend of conservative politics), by significant majorities don't want us to leave anytime soon and believe they have a chance at a better life down the road.

You see they are afraid we will lose our nerve and bail out. Nemesis - would like your explanation on what you have done to improve the Iraqis' lot in life, because the political positions you espouse have not helped at all. In fairness, maybe you have done something. And to everyone else, as to bombing from 15,000 feet in Afghanistan, we had people on the ground calling in specific coordinate strikes - if you want to link that to the bombing campaign in the Balkins you are just stupid.

Posted by: JEM at September 25, 2003 at 05:05 AM

Nemesis:
Ahh, the retort of the gutter Left. The losers of society who, as was said about Rousseau, create nothing but set fire to everything. Their God failed when the Berlin Wall came down; and now they have nothing but bitterness and cynicism towards the world around them. The ideology of the failed, the lost, the bitter.

The Iraqi people have been mere pawns to you and your hate-America Left, instruments by which you can denounce America while striking the pose of humanitarian. Like the millions who marched in Berlin and London and Washington denouncing Bush but not saying a word against Saddam. Where were the concerns of the Iraqi people then? Nowhere.

How, one might ask, did you propose to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people? Of the Marsh Arabs? Of the Kurds? Well?

What do I hear? Silence?

You had none, of course, because your faux concerns were hollow, empty gestures to make you feel superior to those around you and, of course, to be used as weapons to demonize the hated, demonic America.

Christopher Hitchens was right. It was all a pose, a bad faith argument that had no honesty, that was not engendered by a real concern for the suffering of the people of Iraq. A mere pose.

You lose. You've been losing. You've lost. The hate America-Left has nothing but bitter ashes.

One truly concerned over this suffering would acknowledge that the only way to mitigate it would be the forced removal of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist thugs terrorizing that land. And, unfortunately, that could only be done through military means.

But to acknowledge that would be to acknowledge that, horrors, Bush was right. And that you cannot do.

Steven M. Galbraith

Posted by: SteveMG at September 25, 2003 at 07:56 AM

Mr Galbraith

Bravo!

If these lefties are so keen on helping the Iraqi people, I wonder why they aren't overjoyed at the fact that Saddam is now gone and that good has triumphed over evil. Oh yes, I forgot, the poor little Nemesis-types can't be happy since it was a Republican American President that had the nads to do the business and topple the dictator. What's worse for the courage-challenged is that President Bush didn't nuance his way into doing nothing and kowtowing to the sensibilities of a few twats in weird headgear. These are Papal, not merely cardinal, sins to the flaccid dicks of the left.

Anti-war party in the ascendent? Ha! it's like the Tampa issue all over again: A few bleating wets whine on in the media whilst the vast majority of the country knows that the conservative approach to theproblem is the right one.

These lefties are not really anti-war, they are anti-Bush and anti-action of any sort. It's all talk. They're all placard and no protest. Sometimes, in listening to the liberal idiots of the media one feels like the Duchess of Malfi surrounded by madmen singing songs of their strange dreams of what the world is.

I can just see Nemesis still there after 20 years, trying to untie the Gordian knot, whilst Dubya just came along, like Alexander, and cut the bloody thing with his sword. He must make all those lefties feel so inadequate. Isn't it great?

Posted by: Toryhere at September 25, 2003 at 09:00 AM

What can you expect from Nemmy? He thinks his cat looks like a "star-spangled turkey," whatever that is. I take the beer comment back; he must be on straight mescaline.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 25, 2003 at 01:01 PM