The Poll of the Shirt

by DAVID LINDORFF

The polls are saying President Bush is in trouble. His approval rating, by most accounts, is currently somewhere around 50 percent, down from a high of 90 percent right after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and down 10 points just over the past month. Now 50 percent may sound high, but apparently you have to factor into that the fact that many Americans automatically give the benefit of the doubt to any president because of the office, not the man in it, and a 50 percent rating is pretty darned low speaking historically. It’s also a figure that’s been dropping like a stone off a cliff.

But I have my own poll, and it says Bush is in even bigger trouble that the official polls might indicate.

My poll is my favorite T-shirt–a plain white thing with a peace sign on the back and “No War in Iraq” printed in huge brown block letters on the front. I purchased this piece of clothing on the eve of the war while speaking at the Socialist Scholars Conference in Manhattan last spring.

When I first began wearing it around the mostly Republican suburb where I live, just north of Philadelphia, as the war was underway, I got some scowls in the supermarket and the gym. Nobody verbally chewed me out or swung a punch, but there were quite a few definite grimaces and unmistakably angry glares. At the same time, I also got a lot of thumbs up gestures while jogging in the park, and some favorable comments about the sentiment in the checkout line at the local market and at the post office. In general, though, I’d say that back then in March and April, there was enough of a level of discomfort associated with wearing this shirt that I’d always kind of brace myself when I went out wearing it.

No longer. Now when I sport this shirt in public, whether it’s to take my car to the body shop for a fender repair, go running in the park or go grocery shopping, there’s not an unfriendly face to be seen. And plenty of the good Republican citizenry of my community offer friendly encouragement, even if they seem slightly bemused that someone would actually go around wearing such a charged political statement.

I contrast this to my experience as a long-haired college student anti-war activist back in 1968 or 1970, and am stunned at the lack of criticism I’m getting today.

In 1968, it was enough to simply sport a beard and longish hair, as I did at the time, to find myself hauled aside by a bunch of pro-war barstool cowboys in a small town in Nevada and be roughly shorn with a pair of scissors.

Wearing an anti-war T-shirt in a Republican or even a blue-collar Democratic neighborhood even in 1970 was to court cat-calls or worse.

Even in 1991, at the start of Bush Pere’s Gulf War adventure, when I was living up in Ithaca, New York (an island of leftish politics in a sea of conservative upstate Republicans), there was at one point a throng of aggressive, angry, shouting frat boys and ROTC types who tried to attack a peace vigil in the downtown town mall. They had to be kept at bay by local police. My wife, Joyce, who had to drive through a long stretch of upstate New York and central Pennsylvania one day while Desert Storm was underway, actually had to stop her car and remove a sign we’d made with masking tape on the back window of our hatchback saying “No War,” because she was having other drivers blare their horns at her and even try to run her off the road as she was driving along.

These days I ride my bike down the main road in town, and haven’t heard one horn honk, and no one has tried to run me into a ditch.

This is all very bad news for the president and his war-mongering advisers.

Americans tend to be a jingoistic lot, and if this war is not rousing those demons in the public, it must mean that there’s a lot of antipathy towards this Iraq war, even among those who voted for Bush in 2000.

If this keeps up, I may even get tempted to start selling copies of my polling shirt.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece