Liberia in the Polls (was RE: Is Bush's support imploding?)
MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sun Jul 13 11:14:44 MDT 2003
This discussion reminds me of a brilliant scene from "the Grand Design,"
a 1986 episode of the old BBC comedy, YES, PRIME MINISTER. (There's a
good introduction to the series at http://www.tvheaven.ca/ypm.htm.) In
it, the P.M. noticed a poll favoring conscription and decided to save
$15 billion pounds by not buying the Trident missile from the U.S. and
use manpower rather than tech by instituting mass conscription to ease
the problems of unemployment and poor education...and make his
administration more popular.
Alarmed, the head of the civil service, Sir Humphrey Appleby realizes
that he needs to protect the military (concerned about maintaining an
elite professional standing) and the schools (unwilling to be
acknowledge that they were graduating illiterates). In a memorable
scene, he explains to another civil servant, Bernard Wooley that polls
are about getting the desired results. He demonstrates this by asking
questions on a survey to get results favorable and unfavorable to
"Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
"Do you think there is lack of discipline and vigorous training in our
"Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in
"Do they respond to a challenge?"
"Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
Sir Humphrey then waltzes right into the next survey...
"Mr. Woolley are you worried about the danger of war?"
"Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?"
"Do you think there's a danger in giving young people guns and teaching
them how to kill?"
"Do you think its wrong to force people to take up arms against their
"Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
With a flourish, Sir Humphrey waves his arm and calls it a
On another level, of course, getting the appearance of support amounts
to the same thing unless people are willing to noisily shatter the
appearance. After all "citizenship" is about passive consumerism, isn't
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