Gallup’s finding that Americans approve of “the military action against Libya by the United States and other countries” by a 47% to 37% margin, referenced in Byron York's Examiner column today, reminds me of an old joke. The Teamsters Union business agent is in the hospital. He receives a bouquet of flowers with a card attached. He opens the card and reads: “The Executive Board wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of nine to six.”
Nine to six is actually a better vote than 47 to 37. Americans ordinarily support military action by the United States in its initial stages by far higher percentages. Not so here. By the way, I would have phrased the question a little differently, saying “military action in Libya” rather than “military action against Libya.” As I understand the administration’s policy (admittedly a difficult thing to understand) we’re trying to do things to benefit the Libyan people not to hurt them. We’re against the regime not the people, just as we were when we went into Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, my wording is a little more positive way to frame the issue. But the Gallup wording also frames the issue positively for the administration, by noting that other countries are involved. I think such positive wording is legitimate, since we’re assuming that Barack Obama and his administration will have a chance to make their case effectively. Whether they actually do so, however, is beginning to look doubtful.