The chances are if you take away any of those involved in tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden, he’d still be alive right now. That much is an inescapable conclusion of most any of the stories that have revealed the background of last weekend’s raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
But Americans don’t pay a lot of attention to the details when the pollsters call. When the Gallup organization called 645 of them yesterday, the chances are pretty good that few of them had yet watched John Brennan’s news conference yesterday that offered details on how the operation was carried out.
It’s one reason why the stories about who the American public think deserves the credit, deserves to be taken with a grain of salt.
When 12 percent of the people say the president, who had the option of not approving the raid, deserved no credit for bringing Bin Laden down, let’s just say that’s a good indication that polls don’t reveal a scholarly approach to reality. Similarly when 25 percent give no credit to President George Bush, it reveals the truth about polling: Most every question might as well be “Who do you like? Don’t worry about why.”
Eleven percent of those surveyed didn’t think the most important part of killing Bin Laden was actually killing him. Otherwise, they would’ve said the military deserved the most credit.
The truth is: We don’t have enough information to answer these sorts of questions with any degree of accuracy. A good followup poll question to almost any poll like this would be “how do you know?”
My money is on “I don’t.”
Meanwhile, a Washington Post poll, taken on Monday, shows a 10% jump in the number of people who think the U.S. is headed in the right direction, compared to a similar poll in March. Really? If that’s true, then how come “Bin Laden is still alive” wasn’t one of the reasons in previous polls about why people have thought the country is heading in the wrong direction?
In that poll, by the way, 32% of those surveyed said they had heard little or nothing at all about the killing of Bin Laden.