Jewish World Review June 14, 2002 / 4 Tamuz, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Journalists and Democrats (redundant though these two categories may be) seem to have convinced themselves that Americans are turning away from President Bush and that, in the words of Time magazine, support for the war on terror is "waning." Waning indeed? The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, taken on June 6, shows:
Voters approve of Attorney General John Ashcroft's measures to allow more intrusive FBI surveillance, including probes of Internet sites, by 66-22. They support racial profiling to subject Arab males to special screening in boarding airplanes by 54-34.
Asked whether they are more fearful of the FBI spying on them or doing too little to spy on suspected terrorists, voters are more concerned, by 71-13, about the latter than the former. By 63-24 they back expanding law enforcement powers to catch suspected terrorists, even if it requires sacrificing some personal civil liberties. And 64 percent say they would be willing to sacrifice some of their own personal liberties.
Nor are voters buying the efforts of Democrats and their journalistic allies to discredit Bush for doing too little to avert the attacks of Sept. 11th. Only 6 percent blame Bush for doing too little to prevent the attacks (13 percent blame the FBI, 12 percent blame Bill Clinton, 9 percent blame the CIA, and 4 percent blame Congress).
Not since the Republicans insisted on impeaching Clinton despite a public demand that the Monica Lewinsky scandal not be aired in public has a party's congressional delegation more misread the public mood. Voters worry that too little is being done, not too much, and are totally uninterested in assigning political blame for Sept. 11.
Rather, the fear of a new terrorist attack remains paramount in the minds of the average American. Seventeen percent said they believe there will be a terrorist nuclear attack on the United States, on our soil, within the next year, and 40 percent believe it will come within five years (50 percent say it will happen within a decade). One American in four reports personally fearing for his or her life as they contemplate the chances of future terrorism.
A fearful nation, determined to master its adversary, has no appetite for partisan recriminations.
Besides, each day that goes by without a new terrorist attack is another argument that the government is doing something fundamentally right in hamstringing terrorists throughout the globe.
The public support for administration measures to empower investigations even at the expense of civil liberties shows that the Vietnam era is over. Voters trust government again to use its judgment and discretion and not to abuse the license to investigate that they are giving it.
The Democratic Party is killing itself by attacking Bush in the war on terror. The more it is seen to be undermining the commander in chief while he battles to protect America, the more it slits its own throat and dims its prospects for the 2002 election.
And why are they taking risks like this? Every single domestic issue works for the Democrats and against the GOP. People side with the Democrats over the environment, campaign finance reform, Arctic oil drilling, global warming, Medicare reform, prescription drug benefits, Social Security reform and a host of other issues.
If the Democrats shut up they might succeed in keeping Bush's strong suit - the war on terror - out of the partisan dialogue. But if they continue to drag it in, it will be to their detriment in November.
Journalists who raise such questions are doing their jobs. It is fine for them to probe and criticize the record of this administration and the last one in protecting the nation from terror. But journalists don't have to get elected.
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06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!