I’m trying to be charitable and assume that a lot of this is explainable on the merits, that Democrats have looked at O’s admittedly stellar record of taking out AQ operatives with drones and concluded that it’s the least bad option available in eliminating terrorists before they eliminate towers full of American office workers. But note: Democrats now support drone strikes (58 percent) more than independents do (50 percent), which is not a result you’d expect if you looked at any polls on the war on terror taken from, say, 2005 through 2008. Back then it was Republicans who were reliably the most hawkish group (and still are, with 68 percent support for drones today), then indies, and then of course the vehemently anti-war left. Somehow, despite O having famously liquidated an American citizen turned AQ capo in Anwar al-Awlaki and then inadvertently liquidated Awlaki’s teenaged American-citizen son in a strike aimed at a different jihadi, that same anti-war left is now less anti-war than unaffiliateds are. What do you suppose accounts for their awakening? It couldn’t be that Glenn Greenwald’s right that a significant swath of them are overtly unprincipled hacks who were never vehemently anti-war so much as vehemently anti-Bush, could it?
Interestingly, despite the heavy media coverage this past week of the White House’s “white paper” justifying strikes on American citizens, there’s now more support for drones (56/26) than there was last July (55/34). I’m not sure how to explain that except to think that there’s some chunk of voters in O’s base who’ve never given much thought to the issue, were happy to reflexively oppose it in the past on grounds that aggressive counterterrorism is really a “neocon” thing or whatever, and now are just as happy to reflexively embrace it upon having discovered that it carries the Hopenchange seal of approval. A notable data set:
That GOP/Dem split on endangering civilians is interesting, but more on that in a minute. The other line that jumps out is the one on legality: Even among Democrats, who shrieked about the Geneva conventions and international law for the better part of a decade vis-a-vis Bush’s interrogation program, you can’t do better than a third who say they’re very concerned about whether drone strikes are legal. Apparently most lefties are prepared to fight dirty to degrade Al Qaeda provided it’s one of their guys whose finger is ultimately on the trigger. As for that partisan split on endangering civilians, this is useful:
Part of the reason why Republicans are more willing to risk civilian casualties in drone strikes is likely because men generally are more willing to risk civilian casualties in drone strikes and right now the GOP skews a bit male. That’s not the whole reason — clearly there are partisan philosophical differences about how much the presence of civilians should deter a strike against a prized jihadi target — but it’s curious to me that you could have 58 percent support among Democrats for drones when you have 65 percent saying they’re “very concerned” about civilians being hit. Either that shows a lot of trust in Obama to hit the bullseye exactly, with little fear of collateral damage actually occurring, or else Dems are simply telling the pollster what they think they’re supposed to say. They’re “anti-war,” right? They’re virtuous progressives. Of course they’re “very concerned” about civilians. Now, get those birds back in the air and start firing.
Here’s Darth Vader, the font of all evil to liberals, twisting the knife by agreeing with them.