Whopper of the week: George W. Bush.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 5 2002 7:00 AM

Whopper of the Week: George W. Bush

Don't tell anyone Dubya takes polls (poll-taking polls badly).

"A leader is somebody who is willing to take positions based on principle, not polls or focus groups."

George W. Bush, as quoted by Bob Kemper in the Chicago Tribune, Oct. 29, 2000.

"A Washington Monthly analysis of Republican National Committee disbursement filings revealed that Bush's principal pollsters received $346,000 in direct payments in 2001. Add to that the multiple boutique polling firms the administration regularly employs for specialized and targeted polls and the figure is closer to $1 million."

—Joshua Green, "The Other War Room," in the Washington Monthly, April 2002.

[Update, 4/8: Many readers have written in to point out that the Monthly article reports that "while Clinton used polling to craft popular policies, Bush uses polling to spin unpopular ones." But Chatterbox doesn't really believe that Bush uses polling only to sell already-formulated policies; he thinks Bush also uses polling the way other politicians do, i.e., to help figure out what his position should be in the first place. (The alternativethat Bush, for instance, recently made the glaringly unmeritorious  policy decision to impose quotas on foreign steel because he thought it was the right thing to do—is too horrible to contemplate.)]

Got a whopper? Send it to chatterbox@slate.com. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.

Whopper Archive:
Mar. 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
Mar. 21, 2002: Billy Graham
Mar. 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
Mar. 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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