Spinning away a quagmire ...

As I write this, 28 soldiers and marines have perished along with hundreds of Iraqis during the past four days.

Sound like an un-spinnable mess? Some don't agree.

From The Hill:

Senate Republicans are planning to launch a concerted effort to recast the debate on the Iraq war, seeking to build on the successful public relations offensive that President Bush unleashed at the end of last year.
After the White House's aggressive response to war critics led to higher poll numbers for the president, congressional Republicans -- who had prodded Bush to be more vocal -- are looking to fight their own aggressive campaign.
GOP officials are aware of public polling showing that Bush's December statements have started to shift the political winds, stemming mounting opposition to the war. But a leadership aide said that the public relations push was planned independently of polling measuring the public response to Bush's effort.
I like The Hill, but really. "Bush's December statements have started to shift the political winds, stemming mounting opposition to the war"? On what planet?

I don't know what private polling data the Repubs might be looking at, but as far as what's available at the always-handy PollingReport.com, Bush's "Strategy for Victory," hasn't resulted in much optimism.

According to the year's first Gallup poll, 39 percent approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, two percent down from their poll in early December. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted December 16-18 showed the same two percent drop in that category from their poll conducted a week earlier (it was up 5 percent from September).

But, more to the point, as I've written before, public opinion about Iraq has shown peaks and valleys around the endless series of supposed "turning points" - from catching Saddam to the recent elections - that are always accompanied by predictions of improvements that never follow.

In that last poll, 50 percent thought that the December 15th elections were either a "major step" or a "key step" toward the U.S. "achieving its goals" (whatever they are).

So Bush's PR campaign probably has less to do with any perceived shift in public opinion than the elections. But don't tell that to Senate Repubs:
The Republicans' initiative, which is expected to be waged when lawmakers return from their intersession recess, is motivated by their frustration with media coverage of the war, which they say dwells on setbacks and tragedies while virtually ignoring what they believe is good news coming out of the conflict.
Their strategy is to amplify the stories of individual soldiers who still believe in their mission at a time when more Americans are beginning to question it, a trend that Republicans attribute to selective media reporting and the work of anti-war activists.
Good luck with your pitch, fellas. You don't have control over events on the ground in Iraq, and those events are going to keep trumping your spin until the calls for withdrawal become deafening.

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