- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

It's a different war in a different world.
Commanding a war against terrorism, President Bush must at the same time plead for patience in pursuing a shadowy, elusive foe. And he must lead a nation whose attitudes have shifted since the triumph of Desert Storm.
"This is not John Wayne's America, but Mrs. Wayne's America, which is why this war will be fought in a very different political culture from any of our previous wars," says Alex Castellanos, a Republican media consultant.
The political ascendancy of soccer moms has real consequences for how America wages war.
"It means a less testosterone-laden climate," Mr. Castellanos says. "We already see it in reactions we are getting 'We've got to be more tolerant, more concerned about the victims of the terror attacks than revenge on the perpetrators.'"
This influence is seen in polls showing a public preference for patience and deliberation in responding to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Castellanos argues that the "feminization" of the political culture actually plays to Mr. Bush's advantage, alleviating pressure for an instant retaliation.
"This new kind of electorate where the swing components of public opinion are working suburban moms is going to give the president the time he needs to do the job," said Mr. Castellanos.
Pollster John Zogby, however, says that the changed political culture does not reflect "a feminization in the sense of softening, or opposition to war."
"If it were feminization in that sense, the public would say it wants us to negotiate, but Americans are ready for action," says Mr. Zogby. "They just clearly understand that action and victory require something much more calculating."
"Historically, men tend to be stronger supporters of military action than women," CBS said, in commenting on its Sept. 20-23 joint poll with the New York Times. But that poll found that "both men and women equally think the United States will, and should, go to war."
Yet polls also show a patient public. The most recent Time-CNN poll found that 63 percent of those surveyed said the start of military action "should take as long as necessary," while only 18 percent said it "should already have started."
Mr. Zogby credits "some good leadership" in Washington for the public's patient mood. Mr. Bush and his Cabinet have repeatedly emphasized the need for patience in mounting an effective attack on international terrorism.
It is hard to predict how long Americans will be willing to wait for such a response.
"This situation is unprecedented for any president," says Michael K. Deaver, the early architect of presidential image and message in the Reagan White House.
In an era of the Internet and 24-hour news, the president is dealing with "the best-informed electorate we've ever seen," Mr. Castellanos says, "and as long as the president keeps on informing them about the right things to do, they'll wait."
Americans have historically shown patience in war. In the Gulf war, Mr. Bush's father began a military deployment four days after Iraq's Aug. 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait. He managed to keep the public patiently behind him for six months before the air attacks of Desert Storm began on Jan. 16, 1991.
In World War II, the United States did not make the first attack against Japanese forces raids on the Gilbert and Marshall islands until almost two months after the Pearl Harbor sneak attack.
There is little likelihood that delaying a military response to last month's terror attacks will lead to a breakdown in bipartisanship, Mr. Castellanos says. "The enormity of the tragedy makes it hard for one side to throw rocks through the other's window. Most Americans understand this is the time to pull together."
In the current war, Mr. Deaver believes that the "president has a lot of slack here with the public" because people understand the aggressor this time isn't a nation, but a terrorist network with cells in perhaps 60 nations.
Another reason "the public fervor is not waning," Mr. Deaver says, is that "we all witnessed the horror on television and see it repeated on the news every day." And in his address to Congress, Mr. Bush "measured up to people's expectations of what a president is supposed to do."
Mr. Zogby cautions that "support for war and for the president is strong, even unprecedented, but we've already seen movement downward, even while the Sept. 11 horrors are fresh and emotions are high. So if this drags on without movement, progress or even explanation, there is a risk of losing some public support."

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