Thursday, October 21, 2004

What We Know for Certain

In a New York Times Magazine story this past Sunday, Ron Suskind recalls a meeting with an unnamed White House aide who said that Suskind and others like him were "in the reality-based community." A new poll from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland offers some help in distinguishing those who are in the "reality-based community" from those who aren't. Here are the first two paragraphs of PIPA's press release regarding the findings:

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

Those who saw PIPA's last poll on what Bush and Kerry supporters know (or don't know) are unlikely to be surprised.

As Mark Twain put it, "It's not what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we know for certain that just ain't so."