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Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2001 / 21 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- WE have always rallied around our leader in a time of crisis, but the continuing -- and even rising -- ratings for Bush reflect more than a genuflection to authority in a moment of stress. Americans feel George W. Bush is growing before our eyes and reflect an increased admiration for their president in polls.

According to the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey of November 1, Bush's job approval -- at 84% -- is even higher than the 80% he got in the aftermath of 9-11. Confounding fears that he was not up to the job, 59% of all Americans, including 57% of Democrats, say Bush is doing better as president than they expected while only 3% say he is not living up to expectations. By 56-5, they say that Bush is a "stronger leader" than they had thought he would be.

Americans like where Bush is leading them. The Fox New poll showed that 87% supported the US military action and, by 82-9, they even approved "of the way the US military operation is being conducted." By 73-18, they reject the suggestion that the military operations are not being conducted aggressively enough. While some wonder if the Administration is unclear in its objectives and confused about its goals, Americans do not have any blurred vision and 73% feel quite clear about the ends he is trying to achieve.

American support for Bush and his Administration stems not only from his growth as a leader, but from a palpable, personal sense of danger among typical Americans. Almost half, 46%, report that they are very or somewhat worried about the possibility of a bio-terrorist attack on their family. 56% feel that the United States is at war.

We are at war. We are under attack. We all feel that we are in the army now. We don't criticize our commanders. We back them up. If they make a mistake, we hope they do better next time. Our support doesn't waiver.

Domestic and Euro-skeptics who expect support to melt away in the face of adversity are in for a long, long wait. Americans anticipate bad news and are quite prepared to deal with it while keeping their support for the war effort. Even in the face of bad news, Americans unlikely to flinch or falter.

  • 80% expect the war to last more than one year

  • 77% would support unilateral continuation of our military efforts even if our allies pull back their support

  • Only 28% consider it "very likely" that those behind the anthrax attacks will be apprehended.

Even in the battle against anthrax, the weakest link in the Administration's war on terror, there is strong and ongoing support even in the face of frustrating failure. Despite Washington's admission that they don't have a clue where the attacks are coming from, 76% approve of the Administration's handling of the anthrax mailings. Even the until recently largely invisible Tom Ridge gets a 41-8 approval rating in his job as Director of Homeland Security.

Americans are following the flow of news and thinking about public policy with an intensity and a focus that is unusual. They are ahead of their leaders in recognizing the breadth of the terrorist threat.

Only a failure to carry the war far enough would seem likely to rob the Administration of its broad national backing. If Washington is unsure whether Saddam Hussein is behind the attacks on America, he's high on the public's hit list of suspects. The Fox poll indicates that 79% of feel it very or somewhat likely that he was behind the 9-11 attacks and 61% suspect him in the anthrax mailings as well.

Americans are leading their leaders in grasping the link between immigration and terrorism, rejecting porous borders as a peril to our security. Two thirds would support "temporarily sealing U.S. borders and stopping all immigration into the U.S. during the war on terrorism."

George Bush is growing and America is maturing before our eyes. Our political environment and our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history. It won't go back anytime soon.



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

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© 2001, Dick Morris