Gallup: Americans Favor Investigations Of Bush Administration

In a way, this Gallup poll result is stunning:

While no more than 41% of Americans favor a criminal investigation into any of the matters, at least 6 in 10 say there should be either a criminal investigation or an independent probe into all three [torture, DOJ firings and politicization and warrantless wiretapping.] This includes 62% who favor some type of investigation into the possible use of torture when interrogating terrorism suspects, 63% who do so with respect to the possible use of telephone wiretaps without obtaining a warrant, and 71% who support investigating possible attempts to use the Justice Department for political purposes.

(Emphasis supplied.) But to be honest, what it really is is a lesson in how poll results are so dependent on the question asked. I'll explain on the flip.

What does Gallup do here in this question that leads to this result? It is simple - it provides 3 alternatives instead of the usual 2. Now this very well may be the fairest way to present this question. It certainly presents the 3 alternatives being discussed today (criminal investigations, truth commissions, do nothing.)

My point is not to denigrate Gallup's question - I think it is well designed. It is to point out that if instead the question had been presented, for example, as between a generic "investigate" vs. "do nothing," the results would have been around 55-58% for "investigating." Indeed, I betcha Rasmussen will come out with a poll on this that will have it closer to 50% (I predict Ras will make it a binary choice, will skew even the binary choice question, and will screen for "likely voters" using its tightest possible screen in order to make the number lower. Ras is after all a GOP hack, especially on issue polling.)

But back to the subject of the poll - investigations of the Bush Administration. Certainly this poll is powerful ammunition for someone like Senator Leahy in his push for a "Truth" Commission. I think it is also a warning for the Obama Administration - any Bush-like moves by it, such as its embrace of the Bush expansive view of the state secrets doctrine will damage the Obama Administration. If in fact, as I suspect, the motives are political for its stance, then it need to rethink its position on these subjects. I think they are misreading the politics. Of course on the substance, they are dead wrong, but I think it is important to also point out they are wrong on the politics.

The Obama Administration can not take its cues from the Ruth Marcuses, Stuart Taylors and other Beltway Gasbags. By now, the Obama Administration should be aware that the Beltway is completely out of touch with the country. Playing to Broder is a losing move politically.

Speaking for me only

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  • Display: Sort:
    Leahy running a Truth Commission (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:08:45 PM EST
    is looking likely.  Obama may not be involved at all.  Getting at the truth, though, is what counts most.

    Sure, the truth counts, (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by OldCity on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:12:47 PM EST
    but our standing in the world should matter, too.  It's clear we violated treaties we helped to write and insisted that other countries comply with.  Thus, our deviations from those agreements have to be documented by us.

    The whole, "Looking forward", thing is great, provided we can do so with the full knowledge and understanding of what we've already done, and how that should color our actions in the future.  

    It's too easy to just walk away from the Bush years.  I've got no expectaiton that we'll see many (any?) people jailed or even prosecuted.  But, we must not point to the election as the sole repudiation of the Bush/Cheney years.        

    The "Bush years" include (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:54:35 PM EST
    D. Feinstein, J. Rockefeller, and many others, who may not want a Truth Commission unearthing their involvement.

    Also includes the Dems . (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by SoCalDem on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 02:08:57 PM EST
    You forget that Pelosi took Impeachment off the Table as soon as the Dems got the majority in 06.
    Well how can you prosecute someone when you are complicit in the actions taken? The truth of the matter is neither party is good. The vast majority of these congress critters and senate people are looking out for themselves, not you or your families. The sooner you realize that the better off we the people would be. Don't support a party, get informed about who's running for an office don't just support whatever D or R is on the ballot.

    Cheney must be on the table (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by KoolJeffrey on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 03:33:20 PM EST
    Clearly, if the vice president was not on board for it, none of this stuff would have happened. If this investigation stops before Cheney, it's a smokescreen. I am sure they are already looking for another Scooter to take the blame.

    Obama is against any investigations of Bush adm (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Saul on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 03:59:21 PM EST
    especially now when he needs every republican vote in the senate to pass any of his legislation.  He is not going to go there plus he is afraid if he does it it can be done back to him after he leaves.

    correction (none / 0) (#15)
    by CST on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 04:16:56 PM EST
    he needs 2 republican votes.  1 after Franken is seated...

    I meant (none / 0) (#16)
    by Saul on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 04:21:29 PM EST
    that he does not need every republican vote but he needs all those he can get in order to pass his legislation.

    Reading (none / 0) (#1)
    by lilburro on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:30:46 AM EST
    Greenwald yesterday, I was struck by the screenshot representing the Rachel Maddow video he linked to - Obama & Bush.  Pretty resonant - like the McCain/Bush hug.

    I was encouraged by this poll (none / 0) (#2)
    by Maryb2004 on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:59:25 AM EST
    coming out at the same time that Leahy is pushing his truth commission.  

    By now, the Obama Administration should be aware that the Beltway is completely out of touch with the country.

    I hope so.  Unfortunately, from this point of view, the Obama administration is full of Beltway people.  

    But this poll is encouraging.

    There needs to be real pressure to do some kind kind of investigation and push for legislative changes to try to prevent the same things from happening again.  And polls like this are useful in pushing for that.

    I don't see a truth commission and prosecutions as mutually exclusive by any means, and I'm in favor of prosecutions, but I have no real belief they are going to happen.  

    Looks to me like (none / 0) (#3)
    by SOS on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:07:31 AM EST
    the great purge is more likely to push forward driven by the wrath of the pitchfork, tar and feather crowd rather then Gallup's Polls.

    I'm going to take this line (none / 0) (#4)
    by Faust on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:17:36 AM EST
    "By now, the Obama Administration should be aware that the Beltway is completely out of touch with the country."

    Read it into a tape recorder, loop it, and slip it under Obama's pillow so he listens to it all night.

    HA! (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:28:44 AM EST
    It's amazing how these results can be spun.  Case in point....Just posted at The Corner

    Cheney in Jail Stripes  [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

    You may want to see Bushies in jail, but America feels differently; from Gallup:

        PRINCETON, NJ -- Earlier this week, Sen. Patrick Leahy called for a special commission to investigate possible government wrongdoing by the Bush administration in its anti-terror policies, as well as possible attempts to politicize the Justice Department through the firing of U.S. attorneys who were viewed as potentially disloyal to the administration. While Americans appear to support some kind of investigation into these matters, no more than 41% favor criminal probes.

    My point exactly (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:31:51 AM EST
    From the (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:35:41 AM EST
    "Ross Perot cost Bush the election" files.

    You mean he didn't?? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:43:25 AM EST