May 12, 2004


Paul McGeough in Tuesday’s SMH:

New allegations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners, accompanied by some of the worst images so far, are overwhelming the White House's efforts to contain a scandal that is swamping President George Bush's re-election campaign.

And a report the same day from

Despite the Iraq prison scandal that has rocked the Bush administration and damaged America's credibility, the latest Investor's Business Daily/TIPP poll shows that the president would win if the election were held today.

Many US commentators noted over the past week that Bush’s numbers weren’t being hurt (or were improving) during the abuse scandal. This phenomenon hasn’t been reported at all in Australia, so far as I can tell.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 12, 2004 03:45 AM

It's pretty simple: talk about war (positive *or* negative) and Bush is up. Talk instead about health care (positive *or* negative) and Bush is down. It's a law of American political nature.

Posted by: old maltese at May 12, 2004 at 03:55 AM

It's pretty simple: talk about war (positive *or* negative) and Bush is up.

Considering that war is usually only talked about when it's negative, it'd mean "bad news in Iraq" = "good poll numbers for Bush". It's like the communist saying "the worse, the better", except that it'd be favouring the incumbent.

Scott's Election projection is saying the abuse has hit Bush's polling numbers.

Posted by: Andjam at May 12, 2004 at 04:01 AM

OK, I hate to mention this and curse the phenomena but......

Is it just me, or I am I correct in noting that violence, attacks, combat in Fallujah, etc, all seem to have quieted down since this story broke?

Posted by: Andrew X at May 12, 2004 at 04:02 AM

Thanks mishu, but just to clarify my thinking... I don't think those who marched there, God bless 'em, did so BECAUSE of the prison photos.

I'm wondering if there is a direct cause/effect thing here with the prison photos and a calming effect there.

Best I can come up with....

This humiliation delivered the "beating" that many had noted an antiseptic military campign fails to do. There was still conviction that "we (Saddamites) didn't REALLY lose", fantastical as that sounds. (Arab mind... fantastical? Go'wan...)
But now the whole world sees it to be the case.

Just spitball pyschology here, but I'm wondering. It's a shame to have to humiliate, but maybe in a honor/shame throwback society, that is the only way to force a change in mindset.

Posted by: Andrew X at May 12, 2004 at 04:25 AM

Fox Network's reporter in Baghdad made a remarkable observation which is unlikely to have made news in Oz: asked during the height of the journalistic hysteria here in the US, how street reactions in Baghdad compared with US reactions, he said that it was old news, known about by locals for months. What was more, he said that they expected the reality to be worse, if anything, when the story broke. In other words, they haven't forgotten as readily as Western hand-wringers the difference between forcing someone to masturbate so as to pressure him to admit violent crimes and,on the other hand, ripping his dick off or cutting his tongue out to serve as a gruesome warning of what happens to those who speak against the regime. It remains the case, in my view, that the saddest thing about the last 12 months is what it's shown us about the West's intelligentsia.

Posted by: immistuff at May 12, 2004 at 04:48 AM

ABC News radio, or a syndicated outlet, mentioned Bushs numbers were up. At the same time the report vox-poped Iraqi locals. They weren't expecting a Bush apology as they wouldn't expect it of an Arab leader.

Posted by: jafa at May 12, 2004 at 05:28 AM

Could it be that Americans don't think the abuse is Bush's fault?

The (re)education campaign has been woefully lax, if so.

Posted by: Sigivald at May 12, 2004 at 06:23 AM

Bongoman, some of us use more sophisticated data than pictures. Oops -- sorry, here it is in 'tard speech:

[PUCE] Pitchers! Liiike! Why??? The ar olkay not show bBussh good but too stupdid! for peopal. like smart words an things mor then pichers aaaah! [/PUCE]

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 12, 2004 at 10:14 AM

The fact that Bush isn't hurting that badly in the polls can, I think, be explained largely by the performance of the other guy in the horse race. Such is the convoluted contradictory blather that Kerry produces when asked about his support/opposition/whatever to the war in Iraq, he can hardly expect to benefit from any type of development there - positive, negative, you name it. He can't really expect people to switch their support to his position on Iraq if no-one knows exactly what the hell his position is. Bush has his own massive credibility problems in Iraq and elsewhere, but he also has one huge advantage: incumbency, or the "devil-you-know" factor. Many mediocre governments around the world have been re-elected simply because they were in power, and their opponents failed to convince enough voters that they would be any better. I think it is about to happen again, in both US and Australia.

Posted by: tim g at May 12, 2004 at 06:24 PM