Does Psychology Explain Why Some Voters Continue to Back Bush?

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Mr. Toplin is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) and the author most recently of Radical Conservatism.

We are faced with an intriguing mystery: President George W. Bush’s administration has been pursuing a disastrous intervention in Iraq, yet some Americans remain generally supportive of the president. This allegiance to a failed policy gives a substantial number of Republican Congressmen the will to resist Democratic appeals for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Why do many people stay strongly behind Bush despite an abundance of news stories suggesting that the mission in Iraq is deeply flawed? Can ideas from psychology help to solve the “mystery”?

A recent CBS Poll demonstrated the strength of support in the Republican camp. During the week of August 8-12 pollsters asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?” 62% of Republicans approved. Only 7% of Democrats, 21% of Independents, and 26% of all adult respondents registered agreement with the president’s handling of matters. Clearly, 62% of Republicans project a very different opinion about President Bush’s policy in Iraq.

Most Americans who are not among the president’s loyal backers (including some Republicans) recognize the futility of the war. They understand that Iraqi society is fragmenting and slipping quickly towards civil war. Shia militias are fighting each other. Sunni and Shia warriors are in murderous conflict and slaughtering innocent bystanders as well. Leaders of the various factions in Iraqi politics have not been able to create a viable government. The “surge” has brought some security in Al Anbar Province and in sections of Baghdad, but most of the country is in chaos. More than a million Iraqis are in other nations as refugees. In the meantime U.S. soldiers are stuck in a quagmire. Their deaths are approaching the 4,000 mark, thousands more are seriously injured, and America’s military engagement ultimately will cost well over a trillion dollars, according to current estimates.

We hear many explanations for the resistance to a change in course, but commentators on the tenacity of Republican support for George W. Bush rarely seek insights from psychology. They usually focus on political machinations in the White House, observing the way Karl Rove and other spin doctors attempted to make the President’s actions look appealing, especially to those in his party’s base. Attention to psychology re-directs this analysis. Rather than focusing on the ideas and behavior of leaders, it examines the ideas and behavior of followers.

Three important themes in the psychological research of the last half century are particularly relevant when probing the attitudes of Bush’s loyal supporters: The Authoritarian Personality, Locus of Control, and Terror Management Theory. These fields of investigation do not provide sure-fire scientific explanations for political behavior, but they can suggest new ways to think about the tendency of some citizens to avoid questioning the president’s actions. The research identifies outlooks that lead to conformity and deference.

Theodor Adorno and his associates published articles and a controversial book on “The Authoritarian Personality” in the 1950s. Using a questionnaire, Adorno and his team attempted to identify people with reactionary, anti-democratic leanings. Adorno and his associates had their minds on World War II, the Holocaust, and fascism, but some of the statements they presented to subjects touched attitudes that are relevant to current politics. For instance, researchers asked subjects to judge the following: “Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.” Agreement with that statement today may suggest an authoritarian disposition, an outlook that supports allegiance to prominent figures, including the president.

The concept of an “Authoritarian Personality” came under sharp assault in the mid-1950s. Critics attacked it on two grounds. They noted that Adorno and his colleagues were eager to attribute unflattering personality characteristics to people on the political right but said almost nothing about the authoritarian perspectives of radical leftists. Critics also claimed Adorno’s methodology was corrupted, for the coding of responses had often been highly subjective.

Recently prominent figures have acknowledged flaws in the original research, but they claimed that Adorno and his associates were, nevertheless, on to something important. Research by Bob Altemeyer, a social psychologist, confirmed that authoritarianism was consistently associated with right-wing rather than left-wing ideology. Alan Wolfe, a sociologist and frequent commentator on political affairs in the national media, claimed Adorno and his team members were quite “prescient,” because similar outlooks turned up in the 1960s and later in the thinking of Americans who joined the John Birch Society and became opponents of the UN and fluoridation. Wolfe pointed also to more recent examples of an authoritarian disposition among ultra-conservatives in the United States. John Dean, a key Nixon aide in the Watergate scandal who later became a loud critic of George W. Bush’s administration, agreed. He said, “There is no doubt in my mind, based on years of personal observation, that contemporary conservative thinking is rife with authoritarian behavior, a conclusion that has been confirmed by social science.” George Lakoff, a linguist at Berkeley who has been an influential adviser to Democratic candidates, takes a related position but does not build his case on Adorno’s work. Lakoff reports that conservatives tend to project an authoritarian worldview that he calls a “Strict Father model.”

When interpreting the allegiance of many Americans to the president and his policies, useful insights may also come from a concept known as “Locus of Control.”  Julian Rotter led this field of research in the 1950s and 1960s, and many other investigators substantiated and expanded that work in later years. Locus of Control involves the study of one’s sense of agency or self-control. People identified as “internals” tend to think that they can influence their own destiny. “Externals,” by contrast, often think life is controlled by fate, luck or external circumstances. Externals are easily influenced by the opinion of others.

Several statements on Rotter’s scale relate directly to the opinions of Bush’s enthusiastic supporters, especially the judgments associated with foreign policy and war. Members of the Republican base may agree strongly with the following sentences on Rotter’s list:

* “There will always be wars, no matter how hard people try to prevent them.”

* “This world is run by the few people in power, and there is not much that the little guy can do about it.”

* “I have found often that what is going to happen will happen.”

Agreement with each of these statements suggests the outlook of “externals,” people who are less inclined to take matters into their own hands. Bush’s loyal supporters may have a sense that the president is in the best position to direct the nation’s affairs; common citizens are stepping out of line when they try to challenge his policies and leadership. Indeed, the fundamental nature of some partisans’ allegiance to Bush and his war policies may relate generally to a disposition toward conformity and deference.

A third area of relevant psychological research carries the name, Terror Management Theory. Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski pioneered investigations of the way people cope with the frightening realization that they are destined to die. The researchers’ experiments showed this fear can trigger a variety of emotions, including disdain for other cultures and religions and enthusiasm for a charismatic leader. Some of their work explored President Bush’s popularity after the tragedy of September 11. They traced his esteem, in part, to people’s preference for a charismatic figure during a death-related crisis. Bush’s appeal was connected to “his image as a protective shield against death, armed with high-tech weaponry, patriotic rhetoric, and the resolute invocation of doing God’s will to rid the world of evil.” In the years since September 11, the president’s popularity has sagged, but it remains strong with the 62% of Republicans who approved of his war policies. These individuals could be influenced to some degree by the “mortality salience” that students of Terror Management Theory identify.

All of this is speculation, of course. We do not know precisely how the keen supporters of U.S. war actions in Iraq would respond to questions presented by psychologists involved in the study of authoritarianism, locus of control, or terror management theory. Dependence on psychological research also has its problems. An element of condescension may creep into the social scientists’ work, for psychologists may assume too readily that their “subjects” are naïve and emotion-driven. Also, psychological research can be directed at individuals with different political perspectives. Defenders of the president and his policies may legitimately ask how critics of the war score on the personality assessments.

Still, the burgeoning field of political psychology offers rich possibilities for historians, journalists, and public officials who are seeking new ways to understand political behavior. When trying to appreciate why many Americans are guided by emotional reactions when making political choices, investigators can discover useful insights in books such as Drew Westen’s The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation and in various articles published in the journal, Political Psychology.

Perhaps psychologists can throw light on vexing questions about the congressional paralysis that keeps U.S. forces bogged down in Iraq. Republicans in Congress are unwilling to abandon the president’s Iraq policies as long as a substantial portion of their “base” remains firmly in Bush’s camp. Why, then, do some Americans tenaciously hold onto opinions that clash sharply with the facts emerging from Iraq? Why do they remain supportive of the president in the face of abundant information revealing his serious shortcomings in the conduct of foreign policy? To what degree does their political loyalty spring from agreement with the president’s foreign policy? To what degree is that fidelity affected by an inclination toward conformity, deference, and obedience to authority?

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Carl Becker - 9/9/2007

"… because of the pro-hegemonic capitalist consent manufacturing bias of the corporate media..." quite a mouthful yet explains nor proves nothing.

“The policy of staying in Iraq right now is not a "disaster"; it is a serious policy question.” Nice evasion of the issue. If it wasn’t for those think-tank lap-top bombardiers we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place and if Americans didn’t have their peculiar concept of “honor” and delusions of grandeur, Americans would have left Iraq some time ago.

"...the left, probably entertaining using socialized medicine..." yet Bush and the rest of the political gang, right and left, use tax payer's dollars to pay for their government health plans and this is not remotely considered socialized medicine for some odd reason but it is considered socialism when the American people ask for that very same government health care plan for themselves. 62% of the inherently stupid who support Bush probably also support privatized medicine and are perfectly happy with shooting themselves in the foot.

Oscar Chamberlain - 9/8/2007

"using socialized medicine as a foot in the door to mandate shock therapy for non McGovernites."

Wow! Great idea! Wish we could have done that in '72 (though the power grid might have been stressed).

More seriously. This is a bad article, all the more so because a very judicious use of psychology and some of the theories from the social sciences has an important place in historical work.

However, the Left hardly has a monopoly on pseudo-diagnosis. Just think of all those commentaries about liberals being basically morose people who unconsciously impose their moroseness on policy.

It's not that simple on either side. And at this point I do agree with you that what we do have is a "serious policy question." Supporters of the war have rightly repudiated the stupidity of our strategy from the invasion through the election of '06. And as you point out, many opponents recognize withdrawal as something that requires military skill and diplomatic nuance.

Unfortunately this administration still is not well known for skill and nuance, at least in my not-so humble opinion. That's why the Kucinich approach is not lunacy. If one can't withdraw well, withdrawing quickly becomes more logical, even if far from ideal.

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

or perhaps mistakes like being allied with Sadaam Hussein

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

Actually, All party talks with North Korea makes a great deal of sense. North Korea's nuclear program, if unstopped, makes very likely the re-armanment of Japan. In fact, Japan will go nuclear. Since North Korea represents an existential threat to Japan, the likliehood of those weapons being used is quite high, especially since the North Korean regime is willing to threaten South Korea with annihilation in order to get foreign currency with which to buy French Champagne for its "leader".

A nuclear Japan is not something China wants, and it thus has an interest in disarming North Korea. Thus talks that are not bi-lateral but multi-lateral make perfect sense in this situation.

While a war to liberate North Korea would be seemingly consistent with what you regard as the empty rhetoric justifying the deposition of Sadaam Hussein, the difference between the two situations is quite obvious. Any strike against North Korea would instantly imperil the lives of millions of South Koreans and Japanese. From a narrower perspective, it would also imperil the Americans stationed in those two countries.

Action in Iraq, on the other hand, prevented Iraq from ever gaining the ability to institute a criminal and murderous regime and blackmail the major powers with wanton murder of millions of people if it didn't get massive amounts of foreign aid to feed the decadent needs of the brutal, governing minority of the country.

The topography of Iran prevents an Iraq solution there as well.

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

mistakes like appeasing terrorists because their aspirations are rational and consistent with liberal values...

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

How is an assault on the new deal "fascistic?" In terms of the government role in the economy, the new deal closely approximates fascism: massive public works and jobs programs; government funded artistic production that produces works that....well, generally don't stray too far away from the ideas of their pay masters; and last, maintaining private ownership of property but giving the government the authority to direct its uses. That the New Deal originated in the same historical time period as fascism might lead one to inquire as to their similarities.

The immanent fascist takeover is not only fundamentally ahistorical but refelcts a profound ignorance of the manner in which total political power is almost impossible to centralize in any kind of permanent manner in the United States to the detriment of either democracy or individual's civil rights and liberties. There are simply too many overlapping jurisdictions and simply too many avenues too effect and transform political policy..and most importantly....simply too much political and personal freedom with which to utilize the multitude of avenues of access to government (state, local, judicial, bureaucratic) to permit the absurd bogeyman of fascism in the US from coming into being.

People who advocate a strong military, lower taxes, law and order, less regulation of the economy and strict construction of the constitution in order to limit governnment's power are liberals, not fascists. To brush them as fascists is a classic case of making moderation appear extreme in order to usher in another extremism.

It also allows one to utterly dismiss any kind of meaningful policy debates and moderate and reasonable ideas by simply dismissing them as ruses designed to usher in a Nazi state. Last, it taints any opponents to the agenda of he who levels the fascist charge as being pro-fascist.

If Bush was a fascist, he would be calling for Anschluss of Quebec in order to rescue the English speakers in that region who are tied to America through their common, glorious mythic anglo past that we would all know about because we were forced to go out in the woods and watch productions of Beowulf in which Grendel spoke Quebecois French. He would also demand of businesses that they shift production of their goods to war material for such an endeavor. All French majors would graduate to find jobs teaching French to have dried up (a thing local school districts would no longer decide) and employment in secret services the only available career.

Then he would proclaim that American ex-pats are victims of persecution in Mexico and conquer that territory in order to purge it of the racially inferior and create living space for all ddescendents of Beowulf that would populate the land. Last I saw, he was being attacked for not securing the border. I've heard no metnion of trying to extend it South.

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

No, this article is a pathetic farce, a resurrection of the idea of "working class authoritarianism" as an explanation for why workers were so immune to socialism and communism and so patriotic about the American nation they were too stupid to realize actually repressed them with an abundance of consumer goods.

Jason Blake Keuter - 9/8/2007

The right wing rose to power because of the pro-hegemonic capitalist consent manufacturing bias of the corporate media; thus the continuing support for Bush is a sign that 62% took Hugo Chavez's advice to read Noam Chomsky seriously and have concluded that all of the media coverage the left now cites to support it's case is the work of the evil capitalists.

The policy of staying in Iraq right now is not a "disaster"; it is a serious policy question. The question is how to leave. Choosing between the Dennis Kucinich school of lunacy and awaiting General's reports and changing policy based on those reports, perhaps 62% have chosen the more prudent of the two options because they're aware of all the inherent complications in such policy questions that political ideologues are not.

Framing a policy preference in a democratic society as "a psychological disorder" reveals the closet totalitarianism underlying the pseudo-humanitarianism of the left, probably entertaining using socialized medicine as a foot in the door to mandate shock therapy for non McGovernites.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/7/2007

I expect downtown Baghdad will some day see statues of both George W. Bush and Tony Blair... I don't know where I got that bit about the Panama Canal, but the point was valid if not the number or nationality. Thanks for the correction--I am always pleased to get things straight, and you sound like you know what you are talking about.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/7/2007

The late Victor Borge, a Dane, was actually a rather talented concert pianist who chose to make more money by goofing up a piano act for night clubs and TV shows. He did not sing, but told puns, kicked the keys, threw his hands in the air and his tails out the rear, a la Liberace. To admire his buffoon act was strictly an acquired taste, but one which became chic in university circles.

Robert Lee Gaston - 9/7/2007

Perhaps Prof Toplin should also examine Democrats. After all, what does it say about a political party’s psychology when they continue to admire a president who got his kicks by inserting a cigar in a twenty-one year old intern’s vagina?

Oscar Chamberlain - 9/7/2007

Some of the critics of this article have rightly noted the implicit assumption that Bush supporters must be crazy. That's as bad an assumption as liberals "actually rather schizoid."

If the point in saying that was to make clear how bad the "liberal" assumption is, you succeeded.

But let's face it. Many of us, on what ever side and on whatever issue of importance, are tempted sometimes to ask, "How can they think that way? How can they think that Keillor is funny or that Coulter is smart?"

Or is it the other way around?

Still, it is better to restrain this lesser angel of our nature, if only because it is so tempting.

PS Was Borge really a liberal comedian? I missed that.

Patrick Patton - 9/6/2007


This article is a parody of arrogant liberal academic elitism, right? The author's ability to draw psychological inferences about Bush supporters without training in psychology or conducting any psychological research is impressive. I'm surprised, however, that the editors of HNN find it worthy of publication. It starts from the assumption that supporters of the president are hopelessly irrational morons and then seeks to explain their irrationality based on mildly informed speculation. I don't understand the point of this exercise. Your time would be better utilized screeching about stolen elections, "suppressed" voters and 9/11 conspiracies, which will have broader appeal for your intended audience of rational sane minded Bush haters.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/6/2007

You are correct. Liberals do not say, "We are sane, you are crazy," so much as they say (or think) "We know everything, and you know nothing." They go around with an insufferable arrogance, quite often with nothing to be arrogant about. When pinned down by a real scholar, most of them will run away as fast as they can. They are actually rather schizoid, if that's the word. They have both superiority and inferiority complexes. They are arrogant with most people--anyone they can silence by adhering to politically correct notions, but in truth they are only selectively arrogant, and unable to argue their positions. They know they are not bright, au fond, and are afraid to argue. They are soi-disant intellectuals, i.e., poseurs. They laugh at people like Victor Borge or Garrison Keillor--who are not funny--because they admire people who titter at Borge and Keillor. They want to pass as mambers of that group because they haven't the common sense to see that such people are all phonies. (Except, probably, Borge and Keillor).

William J. Haywood - 9/5/2007

A problem I have with the psychologizing approach in this article is that it divides people into the rational,who hate Bush, and the irrational, whose support cannot be reasoned,and can only be explained as mental pathology.

It certainly does not explain, say, the support for the war of the Necons, who have a careful, reasoned approach to greed and power. Maybe the Republican grassroots are similar. They simply support imperialism, just like they say.

Francis Theusch - 9/5/2007

As a Vietnam Combat Veteran, I found the "Psycholgy" Article more of the same galloping arrogance notwithstanding wilful political ignorance and out and out ideological deceit that is the hallmark of the Woodstock shallow thinkers that I so shamefully must concede are members of my generation.

Having made 23 trips back to Vietnam and building some 30 Libraries across SE Asia, I have had a ongoing relationships with old VC and NVA.

They have very little respect for the "Anti-War" movement. VC General Thao said to me in his broken English
in Hanoi "They no fight for their country, they not fight for any country" when I noted the protesters would have been on his side.

The Psychology you point to is a failed attempt at understanding values you have never been able to comprehend, and never will.

Ronald Harold Fritze - 9/5/2007

Actually the number of people who died in Panama during the American phase of construction was closer to 5,000. Furthermore, close to 90% of the dead were West Indian laborers, not American citizens. Of course, more than 90% of the casualities in Iraq are Iraqis, so maybe you are on to something there. Also, the Panama Canal was an unmitigated success with virtually no wasteage or corruption in its construction. If Bush's people in Iraq had operated with one half of that competency, but instead with have a black hole of money and lives and the President is already planning to replenish his own coffers on the lecture circuit after 2008. Wouldn't it be nice if the exit strategy for our nation was so rosey. But then you would tell us he is entitled as a reward for the wonderful job he has done.

jason ssg - 9/5/2007

I do find this idea of a psychological angle on politics intriguing, as I personally remember as a very young child of perhaps 6 or 7 in the late '70s / early '80s taking note of the fact that Republicans are much more likely to vote as a block and Democrats are more likely than they to disagree with each other.

Apparently, something in me already had leanings against this "Authoritarian Personality" as my young self, before a later falling out with the Democrats, tended to side with them as a party that was more likely to debate ideas rather than blindly follow what one leader said.

What method is more effective in the long-term is debatable, as is any amount of war or diplomacy. Sun Tzu and Gandhi might be at odds or in agreement, depending on your angle.

And so to Ms. Kazmier's comment about whether there is "such a thing as selectively authoritarian" I would say perhaps not, at least not exactly- as it has always seemed to me that the Republican party leans more towards the authoritarian side, and so might have allegiance to its own leaders even above a Democratic president, in contrast to the somewhat less authoritarian and somewhat more disorganized Democratic party.

Perhaps one of the weaknesses of a two party system? Or would more just add to the chaos? Just a thought.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/4/2007

Professor Toplin's first four paragraphs include such phrases as disastrous intervention, failed policy, deeply flawed mission, war futility, civil war, murderous conflict, and even the Vietnam word, "quagmire." Only after considerable redundancy on this theme does he dissolve into his psychobabble points... It could be his preamble betrays some visceral insecurity, or even creeping terror that he will be proven wrong about the eventual outcome in Iraq. I think so. The gentleman doth protesteth too much.

Jeff Riggenbach - 9/4/2007

"We are faced with another intriguing mystery: Both Republican and Democratic administrations have been pursuing a disastrous War on Drugs for well more than half a century. Yet some Americans remain generally supportive of this war. Their allegiance to a failed policy gives a substantial number of Republican and Democratic Congressmen the will to resist libertarian appeals for an end to the War on Drugs. Can ideas from psychology help to solve this second “mystery”?

Jeffery Ewener - 9/3/2007

For example, the neo-con mantra about negotiations -- with North Korea, Iran, Syria, Hamas, etc. etc. -- that "We must not reward bad behavior". This sounds a lot more like a repressive kindergarten teacher than a perceptive, flexible, measured response to a constantly shifting political situation. It's about imposing one's personal will -- more even than it's about seeking the greatest diplomatic advantage for the United States.

Randll Reese Besch - 9/3/2007

Any 'success' in Iraq mearly promotes a war crime in progress. This as the Nuremberg Laws,the same ones that put certain Germans and Japanes to death, has been done by the USA.
The problem is,among other things, that no one country or the paper tiger UN will even attempt to stop the USA and its continuing occupation of a defensless and blameless country that has done nothing to us. Since 1990 the USA and other lesser countries did bad things to the people of Iraq when Pres.Buse 41 decided Saddam Hussien wasn't our "friend" any more.
For a 'liberal' press it is curious how they have been unshakable in their support of this criminal administration. They aren't derisively called 'cheerleaders' for nothing.
Now with the propoganda moving toward a confrontation and attack of Iran in the offing then the death toll in Iraq and other places of USA soldiers will skyrocket. When Iran retaliats in Iraq. World War 3 would then be a 'hot war' for everyone to rue.
Then the dictator Bush can declare martial law and the 62% of the Republicans can get what they wand...unlimited power over the masses here in the Homeland.

Rob Guillen - 9/3/2007

There are people who will never (NEVER!) admit they were wrong or that they made a mistake. Their leader sits in the White House, having lived a life full of mistakes but who has never suffered the consequences due to his family's money and power. His followers (the fat, dumb, and happy 62%)are people who are incapable of the sort of reflection that would allow them to admit to others or to themselves that they made a mistake -- they backed the wrong guy or they supported a bad course of action, or, in this case, both.
These people will never learn any of life's important lessons because most of learning occurs when you recognize and study your mistakes.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/3/2007

We don't share your view that everything has gone awry in Iraq, and besides, this country lost 7,000 men building the Panama Canal.

You probably do not recall that the status quo was never an option in Iraq. Fifty years of bribes to Egypt and Israel had resulted in worse carnage than ever, including child suicide bombers. The "no fly zone" had been up for 12 years, and was dangerous to us as well as expensive, and not properly supported by our worthless European "allies," (although the French have recently joined our side). The UN voted to squeeze Saddam, but then would not act. Everybody believed Saddam had WMDs. The regime change was crying to be launched simply on humanitarian grounds.

On top of all this, you ask how we supporters of the war can fail to believe the adverse stories in the liberal media! That's the same media which has been giving aid and comfort to the enemy ever since the guns began to shoot! There is no reason to believe them. Did the head of ABC News not direct his organization to work for the election of John F. Kerry? (The famous Halperin memo). Did Dan Rather and Mary Mapes not invent the TANG "late hit" against Bush in '04? Did the NY Times not invent the story about abandoned Iraqi ammo dumps as its late hit? Have the liberal media cared about anything except the election of liberal Democrats?

I do not think it was a mistake to go into Iraq, and I do not think the operation has failed. As in every war there have been mistakes, of course. But there is a new state standing in the heart of the Middle East, quasi democratic and friendly to the U.S., with a good chance to survive and prosper. In case you haven't noticed, there are fewer bombs going off lately. That activity was supposed to rise in early September... At the time of the invasion of Iraq the U.S. media expected a minimum of 5,000 Americans to be killed. What happened to that prediction? The Iraqi dinar is now strong, perhaps a better indication than anything else in the NY Times of what is actually happening. And the Iraqi government has our protection until Jan. 20, 2009--and maybe beyond. (Giuliani was six points ahead of Hillary lately). So why shouldn't Iraq make it? The price we have paid in lives is not one-tenth what we paid in either Vietnam or Korea, half of whom were drafted, and we have liberated 50 million people. Today we are served only by wonderful brave volunteers. All of you who parrot defeatism about Iraq should be ashamed of yourselves. Bush 41 already double-crossed the Iraqi people once, and his son will not repeat that disgraceful mistake, which the Iraqis can never forget. Meanwhile, everybody else in the world is wondering if we can be trusted, too.

Lisa Kazmier - 9/3/2007

If these are "authoritarian" individuals, it would then follow, or wouldn't it, that these characteristics exist regardless of party. I think it would be interesting to see how they match up to impeaching Bill Clinton, for example. Is there such a thing as selectively authoritarian? Hmm...

James W Loewen - 9/3/2007

The article is fine, as a research proposal. The research needs to be done. Or maybe it HAS been done -- certainly the GSS (General Social Survey), Pew survey, Gallup Polls, and many many researchers in political sociology, social psychology, etc., have studied questions like these for years. A summary of findings would be good -- we can go beyond mere speculation.

Jim Ryan - 9/3/2007

This piece would be stronger if it made the connection between the president's war policy and his simultaneous domestic assault on the New Deal. "Fascism" is a strong word to use, but if an animal honks like a goose and steps like a goose, well you get the idea.