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The Neglected Story on Petraeus

October 1, 2007

Do not expect the New York Times or CBS or Newsweek or any of the other organs of the Leftist propaganda machine and adjunct to the Democrat National Committee to even whisper about it, but there is a very interesting story about General Petraeus and the American people. It can be found at the Gallup Poll, but you will not even find the story listed on the Gallup Poll webpage.

What is the neglected story about General Petraeus? In early August, before General Petraeus had given his testimony to Congress and while he was still compiling his report, the Gallup Polling Organization took a poll of how people felt about the general. Forty-seven percent of people had a favorable opinion, twenty-one percent had an unfavorable opinion of him, sixteen percent of Americans had never heard of General Petraeus, and another sixteen percent had no opinion about him one way or the other.

A few weeks after that, while the storm clouds of Leftism were gathering around the same man who had been confirmed earlier this year without a single dissenting vote, Gallup took the exact same poll. By this time, stories were already circulating in the MoveOn.org / New York Times and other drive-by media / Democrat leadership that Petraeus could not be allowed to come back with a favorable report about the surge. Truth - whether or not the surge was working, how it was working and how it was not - of course, was irrelevant. The pantheon of the Left had decreed from Olympus that the surge had failed.

So, before anyone had heard anything about what this distinguished four-star general would say to Congress, more Americans had a favorable opinion of him than an unfavorable opinion, but nevertheless, the percentage of Americans who had a favorable opinion of General Petraeus was less than fifty percent. Given the fact that Americans have almost never been asked for an opinion about a general (MacArthur may have been the first), and given that military leaders are trusted more than almost any other group of people - much more than journalists or congressmen - it would appear that the demonization of a man unanimously confirmed by the Senate a few months earlier had begun to succeed.

Once the general spoke, however, the opinion of Americans began to change. Fifty-two percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of him as he began to bring his message to Congress. The percentage of Americans who had an unfavorable opinion of General Petraeus dropped to seventeen percent (the gap between "favorable" and "unfavorable" widened in favor of Petraeus from "plus twenty-six" for Petraeus to "plus thirty-five percent." The percentage of disengaged Americans dropped. Fourteen percent of Americans still had never heard of General Petraeus, and seventeen percent of Americans were still unsure about there opinion of him - a drop of two points in the percentage of Americans who had no opinion or knowledge of the man.

Then, after the "General Betray Us" slime and Hillary's "willing suspension of disbelief," Gallup polled America again. The percentage of Americans with a favorable opinion of General Petraeus climbed to sixty-one percent. The percentage of Americans with an unfavorable opinion also climbed, but it climbed less, to twenty-two percent. The "favorable" and "unfavorable" gap of General Petraeus widened to thirty-nine percent of the nation. Only seven percent of Americans, now, had never heard of General Petraeus and only eleven percent were still unsure about their opinion of him.

So what happens when the slime-masters of the Left begin to slime someone noble while America is watching? The favorability of the slimed general rose, rather than dropped, from "plus twenty-six percent" to "plus thirty-five percent" to "plus thirty-nine percent." The more Americans really pay attention, the more they are disgusted by the anti-American Left. This should encourage us as the campaign season begins in earnest.

Interestingly, as America really focused on what the general and his critics were saying, the percentage of Americans who approved of General Petraeus rose to sixty-one percent, the number of Americans who identify themselves as "very conservative" or "conservative" in the last nine Battleground polls (something I have noted in many articles).

Petraeus and the rest of us normal, decent Americans are the majority - we are the overwhelming majority - of all Americans. What conservative political leaders need to do is exactly what the brave general did: make our case calmly, clearly and without compromise. If we do this, we will win and the friends of our mortal enemies will lose.

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Copyright ©2007 Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.