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The headline blazing across the Washinton Post this morning reads:  "Poll: Most Americans Support NSA’s Efforts."

It was written by Richard Morin, and we’ve been down this road before.  Just days after the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke, before people had become wise to what was going on (and long before Clinton’s popularity soared during the congressional hearings), Morin was polling on impeachment with carefully worded questions.  He got the results he was looking for, and long after public opinion had turned they existed as a bulwark against any change in conventional wisdom on Capitol Hill.

This, however, was Morin’s response not long ago in a Washington Post online chat

Naperville, Ill.: Why haven’t you polled on public support for the impeachment of George W. Bush?

Richard Morin: This question makes me mad…

Seattle, Wash.: How come ABC News/Post poll has not yet polled on impeachment?

Richard Morin: Getting madder…

Haymarket, Va.: With all the recent scandals and illegal/unconstitutional actions of the President, why hasn’t ABC News / Washington Post polled whether the President should be impeached?

Richard Morin: Madder still…


[W]e do not ask about impeachment because it is not a serious option or a topic of considered discussion –witness the fact that no member of congressional Democratic leadership or any of the serious Democratic presidential candidates in ‘08 are calling for Bush’s impeachment. When it is or they are, we will ask about it in our polls.

So before the phone records story even breaks, Morin — who knows absolutely what he is doing — starts polling people who have no idea what he’s talking about and giving it his best shot, tying it to the War on Terra.  It works.  Today it’s plastered across the front page of the like Carol Doda’s bright red lightbulb tits flashing at the Condor Club. 

As eRiposte has noted, in a CBS/NYT poll earlier this year this was one of the questions posed:

In order to reduce the threat of terrorism, would you be willing or not willing to allow government agencies to monitor the telephone calls and e-mails of ordinary Americans on a regular basis?

At that time 70% responded "no."  A rather strong indication that a lot has to do with how these particular questions are worded. 

But just like clockwork, the chattering class picked up the ball and ran with Morin’s meme.  Said JWR here in the comments this morning, "Surprise! Juan Williams just cited that WaPo poll in asserting that the American people are A-Ok with illegal domestic spying."  And Howie Klein writes from the road, "I’m sitting in a hotel room in NYC and CNN has repeated those numbers every 20 minutes since I woke up. Every one of the talking heads they bring on to comment, cites it. I can only imagine what Fox must be making of it." 

This was a carefully run PR campaign that depended on the full cooperation of the cocktail weenie set.  They’re run it before, they’ll run it again, and long after people have started listening to Joe Scarborough and Jack Cafferty and deciding they feel quite uneasy about this, the poll will still be quoted.  And it might have its desired effect:  make Democrats fearful of going on the attack.  Amazing that could happen with a President at 29%, but they’ve managed to bully key Democrats into the crouch position with regard to impeachment, it just might work here too.

But I have bad news for the GOP.  I also woke up to this in the comments section, written by John Casper:

Lotta comments over at the WaPo criticizing Richard Morin for polling the latest on NSA spying so quickly, before people had a chance to digest the information. Evidently we aren’t the only ones who Morin didn’t poll.

People are getting wise to how the ground game is being run.  That awareness is becoming part of the zeitgeist, around which conventional wisdom is also being formed.   The chattering class might be as clueless as ever, but the listening class is getting wise.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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