President George W. Bush told us the war in Iraq was over too soon, which gave the wrong impression, because it’s really just beginning. The result? His opponents can easily bash him on his Iraq policy, the American people have lost faith in him for his lack of candor with us, and it makes it much harder for the President, himself, to do what he must do to make America succeed in Iraq: sell the idea of continued occupation to the American people. Want more proof?
Click here (requires registration to read). Here’s a snippet:
“I don’t care if the public is buying an automobile, a drug that cures allergies or a foreign policy,” said Donny Deutsch, an advertising executive in New York. “It’s basically `Give them the facts.’ ” On Iraq, Mr. Deutsch said, “forget whether this was the right or wrong move, and in their hearts, most Americans were behind it. Good selling starts with complete candor.”
Given these parameters, interviews last week with historians, advertising executives, pollsters and Democratic and Republican image-makers turned up this consensus: Mr. Bush has to do a better job — or at least a more extensive job — of selling Americans on Iraq and the American occupation, no matter what anyone might think of the policy itself.
Many of those interviewed, including some Republicans, said Mr. Bush’s speech two weeks ago, when he said he would ask Congress for $87 billion to pay for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, has turned out to be one of the biggest political eggs laid this year.
From an advertising point of view, Mr. Bush was perhaps too successful, or inadvertently sold the wrong product. The most famous number in America right now, pollsters said, was that stunning $87 billion, a symbol of how entangled the United States is in Baghdad nearly five months after Mr. Bush declared major combat at an end.
Certainly various polls conducted after Mr. Bush’s speech, a prime-time address on Sept. 7, show that his words did not reassure the public. In late August, a Gallup poll found that 59 percent of Americans approved of the job Mr. Bush was doing. But that number dropped to 52 percent in a Gallup poll conducted from Sept. 8 to 10, right after Mr. Bush’s speech.
Reagan was right, government isn’t the solution to our problems, especially when government isn’t honest with the people it serves.