The Denver Post's Al Knight claimed in a July 18 column that " the latest public opinion polls" show that the American public "isn't buying the magical solutions being peddled by" the Democrats, who introduced a Senate amendment that would set a time frame for the beginning of troop redeployment in Iraq. In fact, recent polls show that a majority of Americans support pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq or redeploying them within the country.
In a July 18 Denver Post column about Americans being "very frustrated these days," specifically about the war in Iraq, Al Knight referred to a comment by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) about a Democratic initiative to begin redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq and baselessly asserted that "the latest public opinion polls" show the public "isn't buying the magical solutions being peddled by Chuck Schumer and the Democrats." In fact, some of the most recent polls have shown majority support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or redeploying them within that country.
From Al Knight's column "Not a good season for politics" in the July 18 edition of The Denver Post:
Public opinion polls continue to suggest that Americans are very frustrated these days. They are frustrated with the war in Iraq, the president, with Congress, with the choices in the presidential nominating process and, of course, with the traffic and weather.
Republicans, for the most part, are on the defensive when it comes to the war, energy, the environment, taxes, health care and immigration. To a very great extent, the party has been forced to focus on the past because of persistent Democratic attacks. The result is that the Republican presidential candidates have struggled to preserve a sense of optimism.
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates for president continue to present a view of the world that can be summarized as follows: When George Bush is out of office, everything will be peachy. This simplistic view of the future was exemplified the other day when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer explained that under a pending Senate resolution, all American troops now in Iraq would either be home by next spring or safely out of harm's way.
It is a version of the future that nearly everyone might like to embrace, if only it weren't so unrealistic and so plainly motivated by narrow political interest.
If there is a bright spot in the latest public opinion polls, it is this: The public seems to be realistic. If it isn't buying the sometimes bland assurances of the Bush administration, it also isn't buying the magical solutions being peddled by Chuck Schumer and the Democrats.
The pending U.S. Senate resolution Knight referenced appears to be S. Amdt. 2087 to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, offered by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI). At a July 16 press conference Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), joined by Schumer and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), discussed their intention to hold an all-night session to debate the measure. According to a transcript of the press conference (accessed through the Nexis database), the three senators discussed the measure's provisions:
SEN. REID: Well, what Levin-Reed does -- it says that there will be, within 120 days after the enactment of the legislation, there'll be a beginning of a redeployment. And then on May 1st, all troops will be out of Iraq by -- all troops will be out of Iraq except for counterterrorism, training the Iraqis and force protection, and that's --
Q That's a pretty big force. How does it end the war?
SEN. REID: Well, it certainly winds it down significantly. We have 160,000 troops there, and by any estimate, the number of troops for counterterrorism and the other two activities will be in the low thousands. How many --
Q Could you then envision setting a date by which all the troops have to be out?
SEN. REID: Well, all of the troops -- and, you know, I don't know all the troops, but certainly we don't want 160,000 there. We want a drastic change in the course of the war in Iraq.
SEN. REID: Chuck?
SEN. SCHUMER: Yeah, I was just going to say what we envision is, yes, there may be a small number of troops who deal particularly with counterterrorism. But they'll be out of harm's way. They won't be in day-to-day fighting. It will be a totally different type of effort. We believe this war, this policing this civil war, this massive effort in Iraq, which is a failure, will end, should the Levin-Reed amendment become war -- become law. [emphasis added]
Recent polling results contradict Knight's suggestion that the American people aren't "buying" the "magical solutions being peddled by" the Democrats regarding Iraq. A Newsweek poll conducted July 12 found that given four choices as to "what the U.S. should do in Iraq," 19 percent favored "[b]egin an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops" and 24 percent chose "[s]tart withdrawing troops by the fall, with all troops out by next spring." Another 40 percent responded "[l]eave a substantial number of troops in Iraq, but have them fall back to their bases and concentrate on training Iraqis and targeting Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders." Only 13 percent responded "[m]ake no cutbacks in U.S. troops" and 4 percent answered "don't know."
In the most recent USA Today/Gallup poll on Iraq policy, conducted July 6-8, 71 percent said they "favor[ed]" "removing all U.S. troops from Iraq by April 1st of next year, except for a limited number that would be involved in counter-terrorism efforts." Twenty-six percent said they "oppose[d]" such a policy, while 4 percent had "no opinion."
As the Associated Press reported, following an all-night session, Senate Republicans on July 18 blocked Democrats on a procedural vote that would have permitted the Senate to proceed with a direct vote on the Levin-Reed amendment.