Today, NBC's "First Read" political-news clip service contains this blurb about public opinion on Iraq:

A new Pew poll should give supporters of the Iraq war some hope that the public could actually be persuaded that the Iraq war wasn't a total debacle. More people believe the military effort is going well; more believe we're making progress defeating the insurgents. But -- and this is a BIG but -- Bush's job approval on Iraq hasn't improved; the public still has no patience for keeping troops in the country; and the country is still divided about whether we'll eventually succeed or fail. [Link]

Bottom line: The public may simply be reacting to the current improved climate, but it is still not ready to change its mind on the overall verdict it has issued on this war over the last three years.

This seems utterly sensible to me. Militarily speaking, the surge does seem to be making progress. But these gains in no way mean that the broader war wasn't a mistake--only that the Bushies finally got around to taking steps to clean up the God-awful mess they made by arrogantly, incompetently miring us in an ill-conceived conflict. It's nice to think some sizeable chunk the American public has the ability to reconcile these two issues in its mind--even if most politicians and pundits squabbling about the war cannot. 

--Michelle Cottle