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Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2002 / 24 Shevat, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Consumer Reports

WAR: What women want -- ONE key reason for the enduring and hardened public support for President Bush and the war on terror is the unusual support the military action gets from American women.

In past military engagements, women have been 10 to 20 percentage points less likely than men to back the use of force. But polls reflect no gender gap in support for the current war on terror.

The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of Feb. 1 shows that 90 percent of men and 90 percent of women back the current U.S. military action against terror; 74 percent of men and 73 percent of women would favor a military move to oust Saddam Hussein.

Why no gender gap? Well, polling does show that women have been much more deeply psychologically effected than men by the attacks of 9/11.

In an online poll I conducted through, a statistically valid national sample of 1,250 women and 1,250 men indicated that women are more likely to feel endangered by terrorism, and feel that their personal lives have been more impacted by the tragedy:

  • While 49 percent of women said that 9/11 "brought about a big and permanent change in my personal values and priorities," only 30 percent of men agreed

  • Similarly, 38 percent of women but only 25 percent of men thought that 9/11 has "brought about big and permanent changes in the way we live."

  • Sept. 11 has made a big difference in the way women view people in uniform: 46 percent (but only 33 percent of men) report that 9/11 made them "more respectful of people in uniform like police, fire, and military."

  • The reason 9/11 has had such an impact on women likely relates directly to the heightened sense of endangerment and vulnerability that they feel in the aftermath of the attacks. Twice as many women (33 percent) as men (17 percent) indicate that they feel "more concerned about my personal safety."

  • Women are more deeply concerned that the planes of 9/11 may have done permanent damage to the institutions on which they rely and have come to depend. Some 48 percent of women, but only 37 percent of men, feel "more worried about the vulnerability of our nation's institutions."

  • Larger numbers of women than men say that 9/11 has made them "more compassionate," "more likely to give to charity," and "more suspicious of strangers."

The war on terror is being waged, for women, much more for reasons of self-defense than for any usual geopolitical calculus.

It is their failure to appreciate how deeply Americans feel about terror after 9/11 that leads Europeans to complain about Bush's (courageous and correct) position targeting Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as part of a global "axis of evil."

The political backing that Bush requires to move ahead on his own, if need be, in attacking this "axis of terror" is there and will be there for as long as it takes. With women firmly behind his plans for military action, there will likely be no erosion in the strong level of domestic political support for the war on terror as it moves to new targets in Baghdad, Teheran, and North Korea.

European concerns about American "unilateralism" don't take account of the fact that America was the nation that was attacked on that horrible day.

Indeed, should Bush pay heed to these international voices of doubt and slow down his offensive (perhaps to take account of their failure to back us up as we have backed them throughout the past century), he will ignite strong domestic dismay and risks seeing his constituency go beyond him.

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, The New Prince. Comment by clicking here.


02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris