Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's hard to be a rubber stamp when you haven't any ink

Poor poor Dave Camp.

Remember 'the world’s smallest political quiz’? That little gimmick that is designed to get you to say you are a Libertarian? Well, Rubber Stamp Camp has designed a similar gimmick, and he’s sending it to you.

Eric has already blogged about Camp’s ‘survey’ on the war in Iraq, but you really need to look at the questions to see how desperate Camp is.

I was one of the honored few to receive a copy of the survey. Eric does a great job laying out Camp’s attempts to skew answers in his favor, but there are many more hidden gems in the survey itself.

Camp’s position on Iraq is clear: he supports the President’s escalation. The questions in Camp's survey are designed to manipulate you – the constituent – into supporting that position. The results of this survey give Camp a tool to justify his support of the President.

For example:

1. Looking back, do you think the U.S. made the right decision or the wrong decision in using military force against the Taliban in Afghanistan?

2. Looking back, do you think the U.S. made the right decision or the wrong decision
in using military force against Iraq?

3. Generally speaking, do you think our success in Iraq is linked to keeping America
safe from another terrorist attack?
-----Iraq is linked
-----Iraq is not linked

The first two questions may or may not matter. Most people will say it was right to go to Afghanistan and will answer either ‘wrong’ or ‘unsure’ to Iraq. Using the popular support for Afghanistan, Camp will say that his constituents support using the military to fight the GWOT. If most people vote ‘wrong’ or ‘unsure’ on Iraq, Camp will say we have to move forward and focus on victory. If most people vote that it was right to go into Iraq, then it’s a bonus for Camp.

The third question doesn’t matter unless the majority opinion is that ‘Iraq is linked’. Of course the question doesn’t define ‘success’ or explore how Iraq is linked. Someone could answer ‘Iraq is linked’ and still oppose Camp’s position … but that’s not how Camp will interpret the answer.

4. Should the U.S. keep military troops in Iraq until the country’s emerging democracy is secure and can defend itself, or should we bring our troops home as soon as possible regardless of any potential impact on security in the U.S. or Iraq?
-----Secure Iraq
-----Bring troops home

The language of this question nudges people to answer in Camp’s favor. No one is going to say we should follow a particular course of action ‘regardless of any potential impact on security in the U.S. or Iraq.’

Look at what Camp does in this next question:

5. Here are four potential different strategies the U.S. could follow in dealing with the war in Iraq. Which ONE do you prefer? Withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately? Withdraw all troops by January 2008, or some other specific date? Withdraw troops only after Iraq is stabilized? OR, Send more troops to Iraq now?
-----Withdraw immediately
-----Withdraw by date certain
-----Take as long as needed
-----Send more troops

First, Camp insists that you choose only one answer, which psychologically pushes the uncertain people to ‘unsure’. Then he presents the questions in such a way that you cannot choose the options that many people would support: ‘stabilize Iraq by a certain date’ so that we can begin redeployment. Then in the answer section he equates the choice to ‘Withdraw troops only after Iraq is stabilized’ with ‘take as long as needed’. Since no one wants to ‘take as long as needed,’ this pressures you to choose ‘send more troops’ or ‘unsure’.

6. Should the U.S. set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq?
-----Should not
-----Should get out now

This question only matters to Camp if the majority supports his position. The previous question skews people toward ‘unsure’.

7. Some have suggested Congress should try to block the President’s plan to send additional troops into Iraq by withholding funding. Do you support Congress withholding funding for these troops?
-----Withold funds
-----Do not withold funds

Nobody supports withholding funds for troops ... this conjures images of troops without helmets and flak jackets. This question is phrased to pressure you to support the President’s escalation by opposing the withholding of funds for the escalation.

8. Some have suggested Congress should try to cap the number of troops in Iraq. Do you support putting a limit on the number of troops that can be deployed in Iraq?
-----Cap troops
-----Do not cap troops

This is another question that is only relevant if you answer in Camp’s favor. The survey discourages the ‘cap troops’ answer by placing this question directly after a question about withholding funds. Most people think of withholding funds and capping troops as dangerous for the troops. Those people are going to say ‘no cap’ or ‘unsure.’

9. Some have suggested Congress should pass a non-binding resolution opposing the President’s new strategy in Iraq. Do you think Congress should pass such a resolution, or does that send the wrong message to our troops and our enemies?
-----Pass resolution
-----Wrong message

Camp is jonesing for you to say that it sends the wrong message. But most will say ‘unsure.’ Of course, if the majority of respondents support the resolution, Camp will emphasize that his constituents support a non-binding resolution, and therefore, do not want to tie the hands of the President.

10. As you know, the President has outlined a new, four-pronged plan to help us succeed in Iraq. The President’s plan includes sending in roughly 20,000 additional troops, increasing diplomatic efforts, increasing economic assistance and requiring the Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security. Do you favor or oppose the President’s new strategy?

And there it is … the big one. Let’s look at the President’s plan … “roughly 20,000 additional troops” doesn’t sound so bad, does it? And the rest of the plan sounds pretty good … maybe we should’ve done that before. Of course people are going to support the President’s 4 part plan as it is laid out here, because the last 3 parts sound good, while the first part didn’t sound so bad.

Eric cited this source, which mentioned that “Camp "continues to evaluate the war and its progress," Camp spokesman Sage Eastman said when asked whether the survey's questions mean Camp is fundamentally re-evaluating his positions.”

I don’t know why anyone would question the survey’s purpose. This quiz is nothing more than a gimmick to get people to say they are either unsure of the course in Iraq, or that they support the President’s position. Camp will take your responses to the House floor and say that the people of Michigan do not oppose the President’s escalation of the war in Iraq.

By the way, if you had elected Mike Huckleberry in 2006, you would have a Congressman who wouldn’t be trying to trick you into supporting the President.

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