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Jewish World Review March 20, 2002 / 7 Nisan, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Consumer Reports

Term-limited --- by war | FOR good and for bad, American attitudes toward President George W. Bush are coming to resemble those of the World War II generation in Britain toward Sir Winston Churchill.

Just as the Brits rallied to his hawkish stand against the evil of Nazi Germany, so Americans, whether former doves or hawks, back Bush as he takes the war on terror on the road and challenges the evildoers in their international lairs, one after another.

But the British never liked much about Churchill's other ideas. He remained, for them, a troglodyte class warrior who put down unions, sought to snuff out hopes of Irish freedom and clung to outdated notions of imperialism and empire.

As long as the United Kingdom was at war, people wanted Churchill in office. But the moment hostilities in Europe ended, they sent him packing, with their gratitude, and elected Labour Party leader Clement Atlee in 1945.

There are really two George Bushes (not counting the father). The president who leads us against terror, who has our full and undying support, and the domestic-policy Bush who fell short of 50 percent in the 2000 election and has never moved up in our estimation.

What makes this situation unusual is that we really don't give a damn what Bush says or does on anything other than the war on terror.

Politically, this means that Bush can have the presidency for as long as it takes to track down terrorists and tame the international threats that face us. If the task goes beyond 2004, so will the Bush presidency.

In this age of the soundbite and the 30-second advertisement, we have had single-issue senators and congressmen. But George W. Bush is our first single-issue president. And not because he wants to be, but because we require it of him.

No matter how often he speaks out about the economy, health care, social security, Medicare, campaign-finance reform, corporate responsibility or even tax cuts, he has been, is, and will be the war-on-terror president.

Post-9/11 polling suggests that the public screens out all that Bush says about any topic other than terrorism. How else to account for his continued 80 percent approval job rating while his policies on virtually every domestic issue, except for education, poll in the high 30s to the low 40s? Each day Bush trots out of the White House to speak about another issue, all in an attempt to illuminate another aspect of his platform with his personal popularity.

But Americans aren't buying it. We know that this president is uniquely suited to lead us in the international battle against evil, but also realize that his domestic policies fall far short of what we would want from a president were this a time of peace.

He's way too far to the right of America on the environment.

In the aftermath of the recession, it will be some time before anyone is willing to bet their Social Security check on the stock market.

A cool summer and a mild winter have eroded any lingering sense of an energy crisis.

Bush's tax cuts and education reforms are on the books, no longer in play as political issues.

While Bush probably won't veto campaign-finance reform, Americans know he is wary of embracing this widely popular cause.

And if we were to choose a cop to police corporate greed, Bush wouldn't be our first choice.

Will Bush hold Congress in 2002? If the Democrats attack his stands against terror or raise carping questions about each new battle in the war, they will slit their own throats. But voters agree more with the Democrats than with Republicans on every domestic political issue.

So, after the war ends, it's Clement Atlee time.

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


03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
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