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Questions about Oprah are easy; those on Iraq aren't

With the sad milestone on 4,000 U.S.-troop deaths having been reached in Iraq, it calls to mind a poll released earlier this month showing that many Americans had lost track of the fatality figure there. In contrast, public awareness of the political activities of a certain TV talk show host was amazingly high.

The survey, conducted for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press from Feb. 28 through March 2, found that at that point, the largest slice of Americans -- 35% -- estimated the death toll at around 3,000.

Among the 1,003 adults polled, 28% were on the mark, saying the total was around 4,000. Just last August, when the death toll was about 3,500, the poll has found 54% of those interviewed had  named that number -- far more than any other figure.

Also in the new survey, 84% correctly identified Oprah Winfrey as the celebrity who had campaigned for Barack Obama.

That was far less than the 56% who were able to accurately identify Arizona as the state John McCain -- the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who isn't exactly a newcomer to the national scene -- represents in the Senate.

Fully 19% tabbed New Hampshire as the state, a testimony to the importance voters there have played in McCain's political career.

The poll -- amounting to a pop quiz on an array of subjects -- had an error margin of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. To check it out in detail, go here.

-- Don Frederick

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Four THOUSAND dead in Iraq, and 35% of the people in this country don't know it?

Absolutely astounding!

These would be some (but not all) of the same people who do not view Mr. Bush's having precipitated the whole affair as being nothing more (or, less) than ego-driven, profit-motivated, controlled by his handlers, and totally ill-advised. These same people are clueless that fully 97% of the KIA (dead) in Iraq have been lost since the idiot's publicity stunt on an aircraft carrier in 2003 in which he declared, "Mission Accomplished."

The only "missions" accomplished were to fatten the accounts of the death industries (funeral homes, flower agencies, and cemetery-plot-sellers) and the oil industry. Oh, and the private "security" industry (read, mercenary thugs) and the weapons industries and - - uhm - - well, I guess there's just no end to the list, is there?

Hey, all you progressives here on the Left Coast: where are the articles of impeachment? A guy who put the country in the best shape it's seen in three decades gets impeached for screwing around, like so many others in office and in bathrooms and in hotel rooms, but a guy who lies to Congress and the people who (didn't) elect him and manipulates intelligence and opens an endless faucet of dollars to flow into the money bins of his buds and his Dick's buds is left untouched? Why? Because he's the real-life version of Alfred E. Newman and therefor iconic as a tolerable idiot?

Look at your investment portfolios and IRAs and gas bills and dropping real estate values: you know whom to thank, don't you? Oprah: listen up! Get your self-righteousness fine-tuned. Put your money where it should be - - behind efforts to drive out the roaches and rats and make this place clean and healthy again.

One comment I keep hearing regarding the "death toll reaches 4000" story is, if we give up now all these deaths will be for nothing. I can't help but think that this is circular reasoning at it's most obvious. When the death toll was less than 1000 people were already using this logic, but if we had stopped back then, there would be 3000 fewer dead american soldiers. If we had stopped to consider the dubious intel that led this administration to claim that there were WMD and a connection to 9/11 in Iraq, we wouldn't have lost any American soldiers at all.

I am an ex USAF pilot. I know what it means to be demoralized by politicans who don't understand the real stakes in war, but you don't make lives worth losing by thowing more soldiers at the problem. The soldiers lost in badly planned or executed battles, whether it be the massive losses in trench warfare charges of WW1, or the unescorted daylight bombing raids of early WW2, (or any other unnecessary wartime deaths) can never be brough back. Their lives are simply lost forever. Perhaps their families get some satisfaction from the ultimate victory or their country, but deaths don't win wars, and wars almost without exception do more harm than good, regardless of the winner.

Lets get our soldiers out of harms way and find some other more efficient way of dealing with terrorists. If we continue to fight terrorism the way we are we are certainly giong to lose, because we simply cannot afford the cost to our society in lives, resources, and bad will around the world.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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