Jewish World Review April 3, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763
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
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
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
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12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
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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
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11/08/02 I have egg on my face
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10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
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10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
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10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
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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
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07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
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06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
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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
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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
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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
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02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
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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
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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