Good news for Petraeus, bad news for American democracy. Hard to imagine how much deeper the crisis of confidence in the country’s political leadership can get if we’re seeing numbers like these when we know that the public doesn’t much trust the generals either:

nyt5.png

A few other quick data hits as we wait for the hearing. 65% in question 57 say they want the U.S. to remove either some or all U.S. troops right now; the Times follows that up with the killer dilemma, but leaves the language just vague enough to get the right answer. Sub in the words “cleansing” or “genocide” and let’s see how this one shakes out:

nyt3.png

Now comes the first surprise. Bush is counting on an optimistic progress report to shore up support for extending the mission, but as usual, he may have miscalculated. The better we’re doing, the more inclined the public is to declare victory and go home. The worse we’re doing, the more inclined they are to commit:

nyt7.png

Yet, if that’s true, explain this next one to me. The poll results run 28 pages and I assure you, you won’t find a more startling or depressing data set in all of it than the following. Again, per question 57, 65% want to at least start withdrawing now presumably because they believe, come what may for the Iraqis, it’s in our own national interest not to be there anymore. Right? Er … no:

nyt4.png

I don’t know how to square that circle except to say maybe to emphasize the distinction within that 65% between the 30% who want full withdrawal and the 35% who only want to remove some troops. Maybe the latter group has a Baker-Hamilton scheme in mind, where most troops leave by some stay behind semi-permanently to target AQ? Regardless, we’ve got 82% here acknowledging that Bush is right, that withdrawal very well may mean abandoning Iraq to Al Qaeda — and yet a majority want to withdraw anyway. Stare at those numbers again, then go read Matthew Dowd’s greasy paean at HuffPo to the “wisdom of crowds.” Indeed.

Exit question mind boggler: Among Bush, Congress, and the media, which of the three does the public trust most to tell them the truth about Iraq? Click and scroll down to questions 73-75 to see.