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Jewish World Review April 3, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Consumer Reports

Polls' message to Bush: Relax and win the war | Don't listen to the skepticism, carping, and picking of the media. The American people strongly support Bush, the war, and the way the military is waging it.

Contrary to The New York Times speculation that the public is "fickle" in its backing of the war effort, the polling indicates that support for the military operations is strong, growing, resilient and deep. If things go wrong, Americans will not desert the ship but will hang in for the long term, backing the war and staying committed until victory.

If I worked for George W. Bush right now, I would walk into his office with the polls and show him how tenaciously the public is backing his efforts. I would tell him - and the military - not to worry. Just relax and win the war.

Will the public lose patience if the combat drags on? No. The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll of March 25-26 shows that the public supports the war and expects it to take awhile. Only 17 percent expect the war to last only weeks, while 74 percent think it will take months or even longer.

Is the military bungling the war? No again. Eighty-three percent think the war is going well, and 76 percent approve of the way it is being conducted. The constant bickering in the media and the second guessing of America's generals is having no impact on public opinion.

Are Americans shocked by the dogged Iraqi resistance? The media may be surprised, but the people aren't. Only 18 percent feel that the Iraqis are "fighting back more than they expected." Seventy-five percent of the voters say that the Iraqis are either fighting as hard as they had anticipated or with even less aggressiveness.

Do Americans think that our tactics in Iraq are too aggressive? Only 6 percent think so. Twenty-nine percent say that they are not "aggressive enough" and 58 percent say the Pentagon's tactics are just about right.

And, above all, will Americans turn against the war and the president if we attack Iraqi positions and, in the course of doing so, kill civilians? No way. By 65-18, Americans recognize that the Iraqis are using civilians as human shields and that, to save American lives, it may be necessary to hit civilians as we attack Iraqi troops.

In the Clinton White House, I found that the military and foreign-policy folks all fancied themselves top-notch politicians. They weren't. They were better generals than they ever would be political analysts. Burned by Vietnam and worried about America's willingness to stick with a difficult war, the Pentagon fears losing the war at home by failing to keep public support.

Don't worry about it. Americans see this war as a defensive war - perhaps the first since Pearl Harbor was attacked. It is not some effort to save the world or to liberate a foreign people. To the average American, it is all about stopping a ruthless dictator from attacking us at home and abroad. In a war of self-defense, Americans are prepared to fight long and hard and with great difficulty. The harder it is, the more tenaciously Americans will hang in there backing Bush and the Pentagon as they wage war.

The skepticism of the media, the constant criticism, the allegations of the failure of the war plan and the speculation that things are going worse than had been predicted all fall on deaf ears in the U.S. The media is zigging, but the American public is zagging. The networks and main print media are going one way, and voters are moving in the opposite direction.

When the media constantly criticized President Clinton during the government shutdown of 1995-96, I would call him and go through the polls to show how strongly the public supported him despite the media carping. The polls had a calming effect and put into perspective the way he was being portrayed in the press.

I hope that President George W. Bush derives similar comfort from the steadfast support of American public opinion.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


03/31/03: Bomb as you need
03/28/03: The strong grow weak through inhibition
03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
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

© 2002, Dick Morris