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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 22:20 GMT 23:20 UK
Analysis: Bush wins America's approval
President George Bush
Bush has recovered from a shaky start as the crisis hit
By Paul Reynolds on Washington

A New York Times editorial this week will be welcome reading in the White House.

"In its hour of greatest need, the city must be grateful that he rose to the occasion and demonstrated that he is president of the entire country."

It concluded: "By his actions over the last week, Mr Bush has won the first battle of the war."

George Bush has become a colossus

Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory
Such an endorsement is extremely valuable to Mr Bush, coming from a liberal and powerful newspaper which is not his natural ally.

It shows how he has managed to become "presidential" after a very nervous start.

That included using the word "folks" to describe the suicide attackers. He now calls them "barbarians".

His officials also had to spend a lot of time explaining why he did not return to Washington for nine hours on the day of the attacks. They believed that the White House was a target.

'Sure touch'

Not any longer. He has developed a much surer touch and he is using his basic one-on-one charm to win approval.

President George Bush visits ground zero
Bush's visit to New York was a defining moment
His meeting on Friday with the rescuers at ground zero, the site of the devastated World Trade Center, did a lot to turn things around for him.

His language is tough and from time to time he drops into Texas vernacular which catches the public mood.

Osama Bin Laden will be " smoked out", he says and he mentions the old Western poster "Wanted Dead or Alive".

And it is not only the New York Times. A veteran columnist for the Washington Post, Mary McGrory, is not a writer who praises Mr Bush easily.

She has had a remarkable change of heart.

"If Bush lacked eloquence on Tuesday, he more than made up for it with his fine speech at Friday's National Cathedral Service", she wrote.

"George Bush has become a colossus", she declared.

Approval ratings

Such comments reflect Mr Bush's approval ratings of well over 80% - compared with 50% a short time ago.

Equally, the criticisms of Democrats worried about the president's abilities and intentions are muted in an atmosphere of national mourning and pride.

But it has to be said that such figures cannot be sustained. And remember that his father, who won the Gulf War, was subsequently rejected by the voters.

So it is early days, and much could yet go wrong.

Mr Bush has declared war without defining what that word now means beyond saying that this war will be "different".

The enemy is unseen, the means to be used are uncertain and the victory not inevitable.

The BBC's Paul Moss
finds that New Yorkers are starting to admire their President

The loya jirga


Unfinished conflict

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See also:

17 Sep 01 | Americas
Hopes fade for missing
17 Sep 01 | Business
Solemn traders return to Wall Street
17 Sep 01 | Business
Picture gallery: Wall Street returns
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