Monday, August 08, 2005

Alaskan Poll On Bolton Nomination A Bad Sign For Bush

Written from Fairbanks, Alaska--

A poll released in Alaska tonight is a sign of political trouble for President Bush. When, by a margin of 56% to 43% in this conservative state, voters oppose the recess nomination of John Bolton to the UN Ambassadorship, the Administration ought to take notice.

And it is not inconsistent with other things I've been hearing in my lengthy visit to many parts of this state.

There is an unease with the way things are going in Iraq. A distinction is made by quite a few persons between Iraq and al-Queda. There is more support for fighting the War on Terror and finding Osama bin Laden than the war in Iraq.

This is not only true in the "eco-tourist" destinations, the two wilderness lodges, I've visited, where you would expect the environmentalists to be predominantly Democratic. Most come from outside Alaska anyway.

Ordinary comments by other Alaskans betray a concern that casualties are growing in Iraq and that no decernible progress is being made there. There also is continuing talk about the high price of gasoline. It seems to quite a few people I meet that the Bush Administration has somehow lost its way in the Iraqi war.

Casualties in the war have not been all that common in Alaska, but when they do occur they are on the front pages of even the conservative Anchorage newspaper.

At Camp Denali, a wilderness camp 90 miles into the Denali National Park, last week, they had a former Democratic lieutenant governor of Alaska, Fran Ulmer, there to deliver two evening lectures to the guests. Ulmer's call for more compromise between political parties both in Alaska and Washington seemed to draw common assent.

My Alaska trip began shortly before the attacks on the London transport system, which drew a strong reaction here. But, now, as weeks pass, and Marine and other casualties from suicide bombings seem on the rise, there are decernible shifts in expressed public opinion, and a feeling the Administration has no plan that promises success.

My 37-day visit to the main part of Alaska ends tomorrow and the largely-Canadian portion of the trip, to British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories of Canada, begins. The next e-mail will probably be from Beaver Creek, the Yukon, on the Alaska Highway.

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