Monday evening, before the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, the Gallup organization finished up its latest poll
of public opinion on the job George W. Bush is doing as president.
The survey found that the president's job-approval rating had fallen
to 51 percent, his lowest ever in a Gallup poll, and his job disapproval
rating had risen to 39 percent, the highest ever for Bush.
It would certainly
have been news had events not intervened. But now, four days later,
Bush sits atop massive levels of public support and enjoys
overwhelming backing for a historic attack on terrorism.
A new Washington
Post/ABC News poll conducted Thursday evening shows that 86
percent of those surveyed approve of the job Bush is doing (63 percent
of those say they strongly approve), while just 12 percent disapprove.
Bush's ratings are even higher on the question of whether the public
approves of the way he is handling America's response to Tuesday's
attacks. Ninety-one percent of those polled say they approve, while
just seven percent say they do not.
The poll also
shows that the door is wide open for Bush to mount an full-frontal
assault on terrorism. Even though the Post's questions seemed
framed in a way designed to identify potential opposition to such
a move, the survey found widespread support for extensive U.S. military
percent support military action if the United States can identify
the groups or nations responsible for Tuesday's attacks. Eighty-six
percent support such action even if it means U.S. entry into a war.
Seventy-seven percent support military action if it means innocent
civilians in other countries might be hurt or killed. And 69 percent
support it even if it means America's entry into "a long war
with large numbers of U.S. troops killed or injured."
The poll also
showed that Americans have confidence in U.S. government security
agencies' ability to handle the situation. Ninety-five percent say
they are confident the U.S would be able to find and punish the
people responsible for the attack.
solidarity presents Bush with an extraordinary opportunity to launch
a real attack on terrorism no Clintonian pinpricks, limited
cruise-missile strikes, or reading Osama bin Laden his rights. And
it suggests that Bush did not suffer at all from his poor "find
those folks who committed this act" public performance on the
day of the attacks a performance that quietly dismayed, and
in some cases infuriated, some of his supporters.
have been comparisons to Bush's father's legendary 90 + percent
approval rating in the wake of the Gulf War approval that
petered out before the 1992 election it is perhaps more informative
to compare today's ratings with those of the first Bush White House
shortly after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
In July 1990,
before the invasion, Gallup found that Bush I enjoyed a 60 percent
approval rating. By mid-August, after the invasion, approval had
risen to 74 percent. That number, along with public support for
planned military action in the Gulf, was less than the support George
W. Bush enjoys today. In addition, there was a widespread debate
in Congress and in the public arena over whether military action
was actually in the American interest.
that is moot today. George W. Bush stands unencumbered by politics,
with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use massive military power