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Culture War?

Reported by Nancy - August 19, 2004 -

Here are two views of the current political/cultural landscape in the US that I think our readers might be interested in exploring.

First, a link posted yesterday (8/18) by a commenter (thanks, Gabby!) to a just-released report from The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, entitled "Foreign Policy Attitudes Now Driven by 9/11 and Iraq: Eroding Respect for America Seen as Major Problem".

One of the more interesting findings:

Americans are acutely aware of - and worried about - the loss of international respect for the United States given disillusionment over Iraq. Two-thirds say the U.S. is less respected by other countries than in the past, and this opinion is particularly prevalent among opponents of the Iraq war. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) of those who think the war was the wrong decision say the U.S. is less respected internationally, compared with 53% who say the war was the right decision. And by roughly two-to-one, this loss of respect is viewed as a major - not minor - problem for the U.S.

Second, Lou Dobbs (CNN) last night (8/18) interviewed Morris Fiorina about his new book, "Culture War?", which claims to debunk the commonly accepted pictureof a polarized country. A full review & the first chapter of the book are available online. This is an excerpt from that review:

... from the shouting and the vilifying that permeates the airwaves, one would think that bitter and entrenched political divisions among Americans are ripping the country apart at the seams. Research suggests otherwise. According to ... "Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America", most Americans stand in the middle of the political landscape, preferring centrist candidates .... It is the political parties and the media that have ignored this fact and distorted public perceptions.

Although I disagree with some of Fiorina's definitions (his idea of "centrist" is my idea of "right-wing"), the first chapter makes for interesting reading. Some of the numbers he mentioned during his interview with Dobbs were fascinating (to me, anyhow); he claimed only 8% of Americans have seen "Fahrenheit 9/11" & only 7% of Americans have ever listened to Rush Limbaugh. I may have to buy this book.