By Dick Morris
April 05, 2003
Even if Bush were somehow inclined to bother with The New York Times, any competent political adviser will surely tell him just what I would in these circumstances: Just relax, and win this war.
Inside the White House, the media cacophony gets to you. Closely monitoring the news clips, policy makers and political leaders can become almost paranoid watching their every move be second-guessed.
The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of March 25-26 shows that they shouldn't worry. They should just relax and go win the war. The American people, in fact, approve of the way the war is being waged (76 percent), expect it to take months or longer (74 percent), anticipated this level of Iraqi opposition (70 percent), feel we are not being too aggressive (87 percent). Even if we need to attack civilians being used as human shields to save American lives, voters would understand and approve by 65-18.
I would always show President Bill Clinton the polls showing how strongly the public backed him even in the worst of firestorms. Especially during the government shutdowns of 1995-96, the polls would calm him down even if he had been bouncing off the walls reading the clips and the innuendo.
If I worked at the White House now, I'd bring the polls to Bush even though he doesn't believe in polls - to show how off base the media is in its criticism and speculation about what the Times called the "fickleness" of public support.
The polling should also persuade the Defense Department and the Pentagon that they can do what they need to do to win the war without worrying that Americans are about to walk out on them.
Scarred by Vietnam, the military can be overly concerned with keeping public support. They need to understand that Americans aren't going anywhere. The public isn't plagued by doubt or ambivalence: It backs what the military is doing. Civilians see this war as self-defense and are willing to tolerate whatever burden they must to win it.
There is no fragility or tentativeness
in Americans' support, but rather a maturity that can set aside
media doubts and affirm their strong support for the war and
the military's courage and determination.