It is interesting to read columnists like George Will suggest that it is somehow a failing of the American public, or a testament to the great victories of Bush, that we don't perceive ourselves as first and foremost a nation "at war".
In February the president said he is running as a "war president." But the country decreasingly feels at war. That is a tribute to the president's defense of America since Sept. 11, 2001 -- perhaps the most successful 30 months of national security policy in American history. But it also is a political problem for the president. In December, McInturff found that among voter concerns, "affordable health care" ranked as high as "terrorism and national security" and well behind "the economy and jobs."As I recall, Bush's advice to the people of America on how they could support the war effort boiled down to, "Pretend nothing is different and go shopping". Somehow, I find a stark contrast between this and what was suggested during prior periods of war, particularly those periods when the American people felt that they had great war Presidents.
Let's be honest for a second - the only reason Bush wants to be a "war president", and why pundits like Will want him to be treated as a "war president", is that various public opinion polls suggest that the American public trusts Republicans more than Democrats with matters of national security. If the polls said something different, Bush might be talking about what a great "peace president" he is - and his nascent "Pax Americana".