I'm more behinder than usual, even, but I didn't want to let last Friday's Gallup poll (Gallup News story here; interesting quotes at Mercury News there) pass without a mention. Twenty percent of your fellow citizens say "Immigration" is the most important problem facing the country, trailing only the 29% who answered "Iraq". Our new #2 problem has never polled in double digits before.
No, really. It's like reading that Americans think "Simon Crowell's bad attitude" or "That commercial with the annoying song" is among the nation's most pressing issues. And I have yet to convince myself that saying even that much isn't superfluous.
But there's more: first, among self-identified Republicans and "leaners" immigration actually tops Iraq 27-25, thereby putting to rest for all time the claims that "short" "brown" and "talks funny" have nothing to do with the war. And second, there's the comments of the Poll's editor-in-chief Frank Newport, who apparently was embarrassed enough by the results to just toss all pretense out the office window:
The surprise of the poll was immigration's surge, he said, because it had never polled above the single digits until the issue exploded recently with massive protests and a bitter Senate debate.
"It's not a problem that Americans on their own perceived," Newport said. "They're not anxiety-ridden over immigrants or afraid to see their jobs taken."
While he predicted concern over immigration would fall if politicians stop talking about it, he said the intensity of feelings about Iraq is far deeper.
"In poll after poll, month after month, Iraq is at the top," he said.
Well, now, if it's just a concern because politicians are talking about it, maybe you should just poll politicians. I like the corollary, too, the Grand Old Talking Point ever since 'Nam: if the news would stop talking about it the war would go away.
But seriously, at least one in five Americans is now officially clinically insane, and willing to let a stranger on the telephone in on it. And that doesn't count the ones who aren't polled because we've already locked them up. Until "The basic uninformed ignorance and ovine attention span of a large number of Americans" turns up on the Top Five we're not gettin' out of this.