Too Many Dang Polls

Sunday, May 08, 2011
by Patrick Dorinson

Now that Osama bin Laden is comfortably settled in Hell and getting to know his new roommates-- Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot-- the political class is already taking polls to divine what this all means for President Obama’s current approval ratings and his chances for re-election.

Some of the love struck talking heads on TV like Joy Behar on The View, said that we should just cancel the 2012 election because Obama is a shoe-in to get re-elected.

Enough already.

Polls are as fickle as the weather and 2012 is light years away.

But the larger point is that we need to stop taking a poll every five minutes. It is no way to run a country.

As Churchill said, “Nothing is more dangerous than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll—always feeling one’s pulse and taking ones temperature.”

But political leaders have always tried to find out what the future would hold for them.

In Ancient Rome every day before he dove into his daily schedule the Emperor would consult his soothsayer. defines a soothsayer as “One who claims to be able to foretell events or predict the future.”

The soothsayer would determine if the day’s activities and any future activities were OK with the Gods. They had many methods to come to their conclusions including astrology.

And many times they would cut open a sacrificial animal and look at the liver and gall bladder and depending on the color would offer their prediction.

Today we call them pollsters and they poll anything and everything. Only nowadays instead of looking at the insides of a sacrificial animal they look inside the minds of the voters and try to determine what they are thinking.

Lucky for us they don’t use the old Roman methods.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that the President and all politicians for that matter consult their modern day soothsayers daily to determine what decisions they should make and what actions they should take.

All the while keeping an eye on how those decisions and actions will affect their favorability or unfavorability ratings.

Pollsters are constantly polling our feelings about issues like the economy and consumer confidence.

But is all this soothsaying…er…I mean polling really necessary?

The economy stinks. You don’t need a high priced pollster to tell you that.

Consumer confidence? It is low because the economy stinks and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

And every time one of these polls gets published there is a whole bunch of secondary soothsayers who go on TV and write op-eds and blogs telling us all what they mean as if we couldn’t figure it out by ourselves.

Let’s ban polls for one year. Tell the pollsters to take a sabbatical or at the very least find honest work.

No more as Churchill said “feeling ones pulse and taking one’s temperature” constantly.

In the long run, I’ll bet if we didn’t have polls for at least a year we’d all be better off.

Who knows maybe we’d worry less and get on with the task at hand of rebuilding the nation?

And before the President’s supporters get too carried away about him being re-elected by acclamation, here’s another little piece of Roman history they should keep foremost in their minds.

During the period of the Roman Republic before Julius Caesar and the emperors that followed, when a Roman general was victorious in battle, he would return to Rome and parade in triumph down the Via Appia to the Campus Martius, or military parade ground, where he would turn over command of his legions to the power of the Roman Senate.

No Roman general was allowed to bring his legions into the city and they camped on the outskirts of town. This was to maintain civilian authority and prevent military coups.

As he paraded in his chariot to the cheers of the Roman people, he would be preceded by the defeated enemies who were now slaves and carts laden with treasure from the conquered lands.

Standing behind him was a slave who held a crown just above his head, never placing it on his head and whispering in his ear over and over, “Sic transit gloria mundi...The glory of the world is fleeting”.

Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley should walk into the Oval Office every morning and say the following.

“Good morning Mr. President. Sic transit Gloria mundi.”

Hero today bum tomorrow, because after all he is just a man.