Boston Globe: Change of Heartland

The Boston Globe has an article on the sentiment of Hoosiers on the third anniversary of the Iraq War. Support for Bush appears to be eroding the heartland because of his incompetence in handling the Iraq War.  Even the folks who still support the war and Bush don’t seem that enthusiastic about it. They don’t like that the weapons of mass destruction never materialized. They don’t see an exit strategy. They’re willing to make excuses for Bush (e.g., it’s partisan politics, it’s the liberal media, he just got bad intelligence), but they don’t see how this will end well.

Hurricane Katrina didn’t help matters. Everybody saw the city of New Orleans destroyed and it is not a great mental leap to substitute a terrorist attack for the hurricane to see how ineffectual the government response would apparently be in the event of a future attack on that scale.

The article goes on to tie the Dubai Ports deal to the toll road privatization:

[T]here was nearly unanimous incredulity across Indiana at Bush’s support for a deal that would have put a Dubai company in charge of six US ports.

Many connected the Dubai ports row to a state controversy — Republican Governor Mitch Daniels’s efforts to lease the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign firm for the next 75 years. Support for Daniels, a former top aide to Bush, is just as low as it is for the president.

”People don’t think Indiana should sell its toll road to foreigners, and they don’t want someone with a turban running our ports,” said Denny Thomas, a retired trucker sitting near video poker machines at the back of a smoke-filled tobacco bar in LaPorte.

Daniels, who ran in 2004 on the slogan ”My Man Mitch,” as Bush once referred to him, has also drawn fire for ramming through a law requiring Indiana to join the rest of the country on daylight saving time. The measure is wildly unpopular in rural areas.

One partisan Republican was interviewed who said there is a difference between regular dissatisfaction and a dissent that will move an election and opined that there was that feeling in the air. The article briefly discusses Joe Donnelly’s attempts to unseat Chris Chocola as a rubber stamp for Bush before getting to this quote that I think is spot on:

John Roos, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the dissatisfaction with Bush’s record in Iraq might hand the 2006 election to Democrats by persuading disgruntled Republicans across the American heartland to stay home.

”It’s not that they have become Democrats, and it’s not that they have decided the war on Iraq and especially the war on terrorism is wrong,” Roos said. ”The people of Indiana just think [Bush] is not very good at being president.”

And, finally, the article closes strong:

All the talk lately about Bush and the problems with Iraq bemuses Susan Grimes, a waitress at the South Junction Café, a lonely outpost at the intersection of state roads 6 and 35. Grimes said listening to her customers complain has turned her off politics.

”I hear all these people come in and say: ‘That President Bush, we got to get that guy out of there.’ But you ask them who they voted for, and they hush up because they were the ones who voted him in. He’s their boy.”


  1. Paul says

    I noted that a lot of people see Iraq as an analogy to Vietnam. I found a recent article by Stephen Biddle in Foreign Affairs questioning this analogy quite persuasive:

    In brief summary, Biddle sees Iraq as a communal civil war, not a Maoist based war of “national liberation”. Applying “lessons of Vietnam” in his view, combined with the Bush administration’s incompetence, will only make the Iraq mess worse.

  2. says

    Someone astutely pointed out recently that in Vietnam war we had a draft and now we dont,so the 2 wars can never be compared for that reason alone.

  3. Branden Robinson says

    Someone astutely pointed out recently that in Vietnam war we had a draft and now we dont,so the 2 wars can never be compared for that reason alone.

    Really? Who said that? And what makes it an astute comment?

    Plenty of things are different between Iraq and Vietnam. But to say they “cannot” be compared strikes me as extremely hasty. In both, our soldiers were sent to invade a country that did not aggress against us (and, in the case of South Vietnam, was our nominal ally) and died for the hubris and venality of old men in Washington.

  4. says

    Yeah, it’s only us hayseeds who never make conference calls, never have appointments in other time zones and never have to deal with people in other parts of the world who don’t want to go on Eastern Daylight Time. ;-)

  5. says

    During Vietnam the draft galvinized resistance to the war among young people. There’s no draft for the Iraq war, and the result is that young people generally don’t seem too interested, or at least not too involved. So that’s a distinction in terms of the situation ‘on the street’ here in America. The parallels as to the strategic situation at the site of the deployment are, however, painfully obvious.

  6. says

    I’m sorto amazed that the Boston Globe would pay attention to Indiana politics. I’m not entirely convinced, however, that MMM’s* moves will result in a backlash at the polls. A lot of Hoosiers aren’t happy about a lot of things, but whether that will translate into incumbents losing in May or November is questionable. Yes, it would be nice for legislators who don’t listen to their constituents (and in some cases don’t follow the Constitution of the United States of America) to pay the political price, but it may not happen. If it does, great. I’m of a wait-and-see attitude.

    *Should the governor be referred to as NMMM as in NOT My Man Mitch?

Leave a Reply