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Jewish World Review June 12, 2002 / 2 Tamuz, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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It's terrorism, stupid! | Rarely has there been more of a disjuncture between the real feelings of most Americans and the focus of the liberal mainstream media coverage. While The New York Times is preoccupied with the "swirling" investigation into the warnings about 9-11 and liberal commentators zealously focus on potential invasions of our civil liberties, American voters are solidly behind tough measures to combat terror even at the expense of an erosion of certain civil liberties.

To them, the danger is another terrorist attack and partisan recriminations over who is to blame for 9-11 do little to hold their interest and they scoff at concerns that measures to protect against terror will erode our civil liberties.

The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of June 6, 2002 reflects the true priorities of most Americans. By 63-24, they support "expanding law enforcement powers to catch suspected terrorists, even if it requires sacrificing some personal civil liberties." Indeed, by 64-21, they would be willing to give up some of their own "personal" liberties in order to fight terrorism.

While the liberal media scrutinizes all government measures to fight terror, the public remains largely trusting of the government to do what is right. Asked what they worry about more, "the FBI spying on you or the FBI not doing enough spying on potential terrorists, only 13% are looking over their own shoulder while 71% are concerned about possible FBI inaction.

Voters support, by 66-22, Attorney General John Ashcroft's decision to "give FBI agents more leeway to attend mosques or other religious places, go to political rallies, and monitor Internet sites without first having evidence of wrongdoing."

The Vietnam era of distrust of government is over and the public now largely trusts those in office to use their powers wisely to catch terrorists while not invading the privacy of ordinary citizens.

Polls also indicate that most Americans have had enough of watching 80 year old ladies being searched for weapons at airports while strapping young men pass, with only cursory inspection onto the aircraft. They agree that political correctness, in its most ridiculous manifestation, is hampering our ability to stop terrorism.

By 54-34, voters approve of "using racial profiling to screen Arab-male airline passengers." They recognize the vast difference between profiling the description of suspects of a specific crime and generic racial profiling for traffic stops to turn up drugs.

We know that a long and depressing list of terrorist attacks - culminating in 9-11 - have been executed by Arab men between the ages of 17 and 40. There is every reason to stop all such men who seek to board airplanes and subject them to intensive searches.

If a tall, blonde, Caucasian male is seen robbing a bank, there is nothing wrong with stopping all such men and checking to see if they have the stolen cash in their car. The past activities of Arab males have made it appropriate and reasonable to single them out for special inspection at airports and elsewhere. That this will inconvenience certain innocent people is too bad. It is necessary to prevent terrorism.

While the blame game goes on in Washington and Democrats seek to tar Bush to get partisan advantage, the polling reflects that there is still a very real and specific fear of new terror which is preoccupying America's mind. Half of all Americans believe that "terrorists will detonate a nuclear device on US soil" within the next ten years - and 16% expect it within the next twelve months.

With the threat of such devastation hovering overhead, people are a lot less interested in the Washington effort to apportion blame for 9-11. Only 6% blame Bush for failing to do enough to prevent the attack while 12% blame Clinton, and 13% blame the FBI, 9% the CIA, and 4% Congress.

To read the media is to see an America turning on itself frothing with questions about who knew what and when did they know it. To read the polls is to find a nation united and committed to taking the next steps to battle terror. Largely trusting of the government, it is quite willing to see common sense actions to fight and prevent terror even if they outrage the civil libertarian purists in our midst.

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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.


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

© 2001, Dick Morris