- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

Millions around the world took to the streets this month to protest President Bush's stance on Iraq, and leading Democrats on Capitol Hill are decrying the president's "rush to war."

But 12 years after the conditional cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf war, a majority of Americans think the Bush administration may be moving too slowly, according to a recent poll.

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken Feb. 11 and 12 asked the question: "Do you agree or disagree with the statement, 'It's time to get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty' "?

A majority 56 percent said yes, 34 percent disagreed, and 9 percent did not know.

Such a question has not shown up in other widely used opinion polls. Dana Blanton, director of public opinion research for Fox News, said a sense of a growing impatience with inaction by both people for and against war prompted asking that question of 900 persons earlier this month.

"For a lot of the questions we put on our poll, we try to ask what people are talking about," Ms. Blanton said. "This is something that you hear people talk about."

Ms. Blanton said even 26 percent of people who oppose military action in Iraq agreed that "it's time to get it over with" because the stalemate is affecting other important national issues, such as the sputtering economy.

"Even among people who consider themselves doves, there is some desire to end the uncertainty," Ms. Blanton said.

Polls have consistently indicated that Americans support war in Iraq. A separate Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll released yesterday showed that 71 percent of Americans support "U.S. military action to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein." An ABC News poll conducted on Jan. 27 said that 61 percent of Americans were in favor of military action.

A slight majority in the ABC poll 52 percent qualify support for war by insisting that Mr. Bush first get "significant international" backing, but that pool of opinion seems to be waning.

In a Feb. 24 Zogby poll, 43 percent said they would support war in Iraq "without significant U.N. or international support," up from 37 percent on Jan. 27 who dismissed such a need.

Few on Capitol Hill are apt to say that Mr. Bush erred with his months-long courting of the United Nations even those who thought it was a bad idea at the time. They argue now that any delays caused by U.N. debates haven't hurt the war effort, but helped buy time for the massive troop buildup still under way.

"There's not a ground swell of impatience, no," said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican.

In the correspondence he has received from constituents, Mr. Hayworth said he has received "exactly two" that reflect the impatience for action outlined in the Opinion Dynamics poll.

"I think there is something else at work here," Mr. Hayworth said. "There is a willingness to allow our commander in chief to lead. People would love to see it done sooner, but it's not to where they reject the leadership of the president because we want to see it done right now."

Stuart Roy, chief of staff for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, said he hasn't heard any criticism from conservatives on Capitol Hill that Mr. Bush has moved too slowly, but "the feeling of immediacy is immense."

"The president has taken away the argument of some of the appeasers by going to the U.N. and giving them a chance to prove relevant or not," Mr. Roy said.

However, the fact that Mr. Bush did court the United Nations and won backing from many European nations has made his political opponents look silly, he said.

"When you look at Howard Dean, who keeps using the term 'unilateral action,' this is absolutely asinine because President Bush is working with other countries and our allies to enforce U.N. resolutions and disarm Saddam Hussein," Mr. Roy said.

Carolyn Abbott, secretary and editor of America's Voices, a Web site of conservative commentary, said she has not seen "any expressions in recent commentaries" that Mr. Bush is moving too slowly toward war, "but I personally hear it daily on various talk shows."

The wait so far has had its advantages, she said.

"A number of our commentators who support the regime-change policy are retired military officers," she said. "I think they believe that the administration had to go through the U.N. to buy enough time to rebuild the military forces that were decimated by the Clinton administration and Democratic Party policies of neglect in the 1990s."


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