Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:
Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy
made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy
when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with
China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest
national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but
multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without
Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches
while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then
demand their cooperation and money.
Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care
to all Americans is socialism.
HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but
Creationism should be taught in schools.
A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A
president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid
Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution,
which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George
Bush's driving record is none of our business.
Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a
conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for
your recovery. You support states' rights, which means Attorney General
John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the
What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what
Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.
"The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if [Kerry] were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off."St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004. (Thanks to Ed Mielnicki.)
"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft."Ibid.
"Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights."
"That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're allyou know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America."
The Box on Bush's Back
Rumors, denials, and wild speculationa comprehensive guide.
By Louisa Herron Thomas
Posted Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2004, at 1:47 PM PT
The bulging rumor mill
Wonder how the Bush-bulge scuffle got its start?
While the blogger Joseph Cannon's girlfriend was watching the first presidential debate, she noticed something odd: An object seemed to be protruding from President Bush's back. Cannon posted the observation on his blog, Cannonfire, and suggested that the president might have been wired. Immediately after the debate, posters to this thread on NYC Indymedia.com also began to speculate that Bush was wired because, they wrote, he hesitated strangely and said, "Let me finish" when no one seemed to have interrupted him. Soon after, bloggers posted audio clips of the questionable exchange and photos of the bulge online.
Was it a radio transmitter? A pucker in the president's jacket? Something else entirely? The questions launched the most interesting rumors to circulate this campaign season. Here, Slate presents a comprehensive guide to the best theories, photos, video clips, denials, and testimonyexpert and otherwiseavailable on the Web.
Sites are devoted entirely to the controversy, most notably IsBushWired? and BushWired. IsBushWired? and Cannonfire have tried to construct the case that Bush regularly uses radio transmitters to receive guidance from his aides. They cite articles and blog posts written long before the debate speculating that Bush has worn an earpiece, including during a press conference with French President Jacques Chirac in June and during a speech on the night of Sept. 11. To see a video clip of the press conference, click here. They even cobble together photo albums of previous Bush bulgessome more peculiar-looking than others. To see one collection, click here. To view another, click here.
Some of the charges are particularly flimsy. Both Cannonfire and IsBushWired? devoted long posts to one of Bush's translators who says he's convinced Bush wears an earpiece. His evidence? Bush sounded smart during a meeting with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri. "During those 90 minutes, President Bush not only covered all the points, he covered them quite well and without any notes!" the interpreter writes. "Not once during the entire meeting did he look at any notes or receive cues from anyone present in discussing the Indonesian political situation with depth and intelligence. I was astonished!"
Cannonfire has also examined what kind of technology Bush might have been using. To look at one type of transmitter Cannon considered, visit this site. Cannon also wonders if Bush is might have used a cochlear implant or a "tooth phone." To learn more about "tooth phones," check out this Science World article.
Salon's Dave Lindorff joined the fray about a week after the first debate with an article that skeptically examined the speculation. Lindorff confirmed that the bulge had not been doctored into the images circulating online. And he addressed the widespread "claim that the Bush administration insisted on a condition that no cameras be placed behind the candidates," which some bloggers found suspicious. Lindorff spoke with an official for the Commission on Presidential Debates who "said the condition was indeed real, the result of negotiations by both campaigns." (To read the rules governing the presidential debates, click here. To read a Slate piece on Fox's decision to disregard the camera restrictions, click here.)
Once Salon published its story, the New York Times and Washington Post ran short pieces on the dust-up and got the administration to comment on the rumors. In both pieces, the Bush campaign flatly denied that the president had anything odd under his jacket and dismissed the rumors as conspiracy theories. The campaign also specifically told the Times that Bush had not been wearing a bulletproof vest. As they received more inquiries that week, Bush's spokesmen became more jocular. (To read a campaign spokesman counter that Elvis is moderating the third debate, click here. To hear Bush campaign manager Kevin Mehlman suggest on Meet the Press that Bush is an alien, click here.)
Eventually, though, the president's aides called in his tailor to examine the pictures. Georges de Paris, who has personally made suits for every president since Lyndon Johnson, claims that the bulge was merely a "pucker" of the jacket's seam that rose when the president crossed his arms. At least one "master tailor," Frank Shattuck, disagreed. To read Shattuck's assertions that something fishy was going on, read this New York Daily News article.
In the most recent posts, bloggers have forwarded alternative theories, many of them concerning Bush's health. Was Bush wearing a back brace? Ungodly Politics suggests he might have been and posts photos of a model wearing a back brace that would create a lump of the proper shape and size.
Could it have been an insulin pump? Perhaps Bush was using one to treat diabetes brought on by days of heavy drinking, this letter to Salon suggests (scroll down to read the letter). Could it have been some other medical device, like a portable defibrillator that could prevent cardiac arrest? Some sites, including this one (Theory No. 2), point out that Bush has a family history of irregular heartbeats.
Or maybe the president has had a stroke, and the boxlike bulge on his back was a machine dispensing medication. In this thread on DailyKos, posters debate the merits of this far-fetched scenario. "Check Bush's mouth, where the spittle was coming out," the first post reads. "It's slightly droopy. If you go back and look at video from his earlier days, his mouth isn't drooping, that side of his face is far more animated."
After watching the third presidential debate Wednesday night, Dr. W. Kendall Tongier, M.D. of Dallas, Texas (More about Dr. Tongier) posted on the Dallas Morning News Web site about his concerns that the President may have had a stroke. The anesthesiologist, who has been in practice for 15 years, wrote: "Having watched the first two debates from start to finish, I was looking forward to listening to a spirited debate between Bush and Kerry. Unfortunately, I barely heard a word that was said. Instead, I found myself staring at and concentrating on the President's drooping mouth.
"As a physician and a professor, I tend to pick up on signs and symptoms of physical problems better than most other people. I am highly concerned with what I saw. The drooping left side of the President's face, his mouth and nasolabial fold (the crease in the face running from the nostril to the side of mouth) may be indicative of a recent stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack)) or, possibly botox injections. I sincerely hope this was nothing more than botox injections. The other options are truly scary given an upcoming election for President in three weeks." "It's the loss of muscle tone there that's really kind of concerning. And it was pretty much persistent throughout the entire debate."
The theory is made more plausible since tbe Bush family has a history of Atrial Fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. In July, 2000 Salon reported the first President Bush had taken atrial fibrillation medications when he ran for re-election in 1992. Note that the Bush campaign headquarters vigorously denied every ill health charge. Proof of the first President Bush's Atrial Fibrillation
Capital Hill Blue has reported that George W. Bush is particularly at risk for a sudden cardiac arrest because he takes presciption drugs for depression and paranoia.
This Presidential campaign has been as ugly and as bitter as any in American memory. The ugliness has flowed mostly in one direction, reaching its apotheosis in the effort, undertaken by a supposedly independent group financed by friends of the incumbent, to portray the challengerwho in his mid-twenties was an exemplary combatant in both the Vietnam War and the movement to end that waras a coward and a traitor. The bitterness has been felt mostly by the challenger’s adherents; yet there has been more than enough to go around. This is one campaign in which no one thinks of having the band strike up “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
The heightened emotions of the race that (with any luck) will end on November 2, 2004, are rooted in the events of three previous Tuesdays. On Tuesday, November 7, 2000, more than a hundred and five million Americans went to the polls and, by a small but indisputable plurality, voted to make Al Gore President of the United States. Because of the way the votes were distributed, however, the outcome in the electoral college turned on the outcome in Florida. In that state, George W. Bush held a lead of some five hundred votes, one one-thousandth of Gore’s national margin; irregularities, and there were many, all had the effect of taking votes away from Gore; and the state’s electoral machinery was in the hands of Bush’s brother, who was the governor, and one of Bush’s state campaign co-chairs, who was the Florida secretary of state.
Bush sued to stop any recounting of the votes, and, on Tuesday, December 12th, the United States Supreme Court gave him what he wanted. Bush v. Gore was so shoddily reasoned and transparently partisan that the five justices who endorsed the decision declined to put their names on it, while the four dissenters did not bother to conceal their disgust. There are rules for settling electoral disputes of this kind, in federal and state law and in the Constitution itself. By ignoring themby cutting off the process and installing Bush by fiatthe Court made a mockery not only of popular democracy but also of constitutional republicanism.
A result so inimical to both majority rule and individual civic equality was bound to inflict damage on the fabric of comity. But the damage would have been far less severe if the new President had made some effort to take account of the special circumstances of his electionin the composition of his Cabinet, in the way that he pursued his policy goals, perhaps even in the goals themselves. He made no such effort. According to Bob Woodward in “Plan of Attack,” Vice-President Dick Cheney put it this way: “From the very day we walked in the building, a notion of sort of a restrained presidency because it was such a close election, that lasted maybe thirty seconds. It was not contemplated for any length of time. We had an agenda, we ran on that agenda, we won the electionfull speed ahead.”
The new President’s main order of business was to push through Congress a program of tax reductions overwhelmingly skewed to favor the very rich. The policies he pursued through executive action, such as weakening environmental protection and cutting off funds for international family-planning efforts, were mostly unpopular outside what became known (in English, not Arabic) as “the base,” which is to say the conservative movement and, especially, its evangelical component. The President’s enthusiastic embrace of that movement was such that, four months into the Administration, the defection of a moderate senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, cost his party control of the Senate. And, four months after that, the President’s political fortunes appeared to be coasting into a gentle but inexorable decline. Then came the blackest Tuesday of all.
September 11, 2001, brought with it one positive gift: a surge of solidarity, global and nationalsolidarity with and solidarity within the United States. This extraordinary outpouring provided Bush with a second opportunity to create something like a government of national unity. Again, he brushed the opportunity aside, choosing to use the political capital handed to him by Osama bin Laden to push through more elements of his unmandated domestic program. A year after 9/11, in the midterm elections, he increased his majority in the House and recaptured control of the Senate by portraying selected Democrats as friends of terrorism. Is it any wonder that the anger felt by many Democrats is even greater than can be explained by the profound differences in outlook between the two candidates and their parties?
The Bush Administration has had success in carrying out its policies and implementing its intentions, aided by majoritiespolitical and, apparently, ideologicalin both Houses of Congress. Substantively, however, its record has been one of failure, arrogance, andstrikingly for a team that prided itself on crisp professionalismincompetence.
In January, 2001, just after Bush’s inauguration, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office published its budget outlook for the coming decade. It showed a cumulative surplus of more than five trillion dollars. At the time, there was a lot of talk about what to do with the anticipated bounty, a discussion that now seems antique. Last year’s federal deficit was three hundred and seventy-five billion dollars; this year’s will top four hundred billion. According to the C.B.O., which came out with its latest projection in September, the period from 2005 to 2014 will see a cumulative shortfall of $2.3 trillion.
Even this seven-trillion-dollar turnaround underestimates the looming fiscal disaster. In doing its calculations, the C.B.O. assumed that most of the Bush tax cuts would expire in 2011, as specified in the legislation that enacted them. However, nobody in Washington expects them to go away on schedule; they were designated as temporary only to make their ultimate results look less scary. If Congress extends the expiration deadlinesa near-certainty if Bush wins and the Republicans retain control of Congressthen, according to the C.B.O., the cumulative deficit between 2005 and 2014 will nearly double, to $4.5 trillion.
What has the country received in return for mortgaging its future? The President says that his tax cuts lifted the economy before and after 9/11, thereby moderating the downturn that began with the Nasdaq’s collapse in April, 2000. It’s true that even badly designed tax cuts can give the economy a momentary jolt. But this doesn’t make them wise policy. “Most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans,” Bush said during his final debate with Senator John Kerry. This is falsea lie, actuallythough at least it suggests some dim awareness that the reverse Robin Hood approach to tax cuts is politically and morally repugnant. But for tax cuts to stimulate economic activity quickly and efficiently they should go to people who will spend the extra money. Largely at the insistence of Democrats and moderate Republicans, the Bush cuts gave middle-class families some relief in the form of refunds, bigger child credits, and a smaller marriage penalty. Still, the rich do better, to put it mildly. Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington research group whose findings have proved highly dependable, notes that, this year, a typical person in the lowest fifth of the income distribution will get a tax cut of ninety-one dollars, a typical person in the middle fifth will pocket eight hundred and sixty-three dollars, and a typical person in the top one per cent will collect a windfall of fifty-nine thousand two hundred and ninety-two dollars.
These disparities help explain the familiar charge that Bush will likely be the first chief executive since Hoover to preside over a net loss of American jobs. This Administration’s most unshakable commitment has been to shifting the burden of taxation away from the sort of income that rewards wealth and onto the sort that rewards work. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, another Washington research group, estimates that the average federal tax rate on income generated from corporate dividends and capital gains is now about ten per cent. On wages and salaries it’s about twenty-three per cent. The President promises, in a second term, to expand tax-free savings accounts, cut taxes further on dividends and capital gains, and permanently abolish the estate taxall of which will widen the widening gap between the richest and the rest.
Bush signalled his approach toward the environment a few weeks into his term, when he reneged on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, the primary cause of global warming. His record since then has been dictated, sometimes literally, by the industries affected. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rescinding a key provision of the Clean Air Act known as “new source review,” which requires power-plant operators to install modern pollution controls when upgrading older facilities. The change, it turned out, had been recommended by some of the nation’s largest polluters, in e-mails to the Energy Task Force, which was chaired by Vice-President Cheney. More recently, the Administration proposed new rules that would significantly weaken controls on mercury emissions from power plants. The E.P.A.’s regulation drafters had copied, in some instances verbatim, memos sent to it by a law firm representing the utility industry.
“I guess you’d say I’m a good steward of the land,” Bush mused dreamily during debate No. 2. Or maybe you’d say nothing of the kind. The President has so far been unable to persuade the Senate to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but vast stretches of accessible wilderness have been opened up to development. By stripping away restrictions on the use of federal lands, often through little-advertised rule changes, the Administration has potentially opened up sixty million acres, an area larger than Indiana and Iowa combined, to logging, mining, and oil exploration.
During the fevered period immediately after September 11th, the Administration rushed what it was pleased to call the U.S.A. Patriot Act through a compliant Congress. Some of the reaction to that law has been excessive. Many of its provisions, such as allowing broader information-sharing among investigative agencies, are sensible. About others there are legitimate concerns. Section 215 of the law, for example, permits government investigators to obtainwithout a subpoena or a search warrant based on probable causea court order entitling them to records from libraries, bookstores, doctors, universities, and Internet service providers, among other public and private entities. Officials of the Department of Justice say that they have used Section 215 with restraint, and that they have not, so far, sought information from libraries or bookstores. Their avowals of good faith would be more reassuring if their record were not otherwise so troubling.
Secrecy and arrogance have been the touchstones of the Justice Department under Bush and his attorney general, John Ashcroft. Seven weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the Administration announced that its investigation had resulted in nearly twelve hundred arrests. The arrests have continued, but eventually the Administration simply stopped saying how many people were and are being held. In any event, not one of the detainees has been convicted of anything resembling a terrorist act. At least as reprehensible is the way that foreign nationals living in the United States have been treated. Since September 11th, some five thousand have been rounded up and more than five hundred have been deported, all for immigration infractions, after hearings that, in line with a novel doctrine asserted by Ashcroft, were held in secret. Since it is official policy not to deport terrorism suspects, it is unclear what legitimate anti-terror purpose these secret hearings serve.
President Bush often complains about Democratic obstructionism, but the truth is that he has made considerable progress, if that’s the right word, toward the goal of stocking the federal courts with conservative ideologues. The Senate has confirmed two hundred and one of his judicial nominees, more than the per-term averages for Presidents Clinton, Reagan, and Bush senior. Senate Republicans blocked more than sixty of Clinton’s nominees; Senate Democrats have blocked only ten of Bush’s. (Those ten, by the way, got exactly what they deserved. Some of themsuch as Carolyn Kuhl, who devoted years of her career to trying to preserve tax breaks for colleges that practice racial discrimination, and Brett Kavanaugh, a thirty-eight-year-old with no judicial or courtroom experience who co-wrote the Starr Reportrank among the worst judicial appointments ever attempted.)
Even so, to the extent that Bush and Ashcroft have been thwarted it has been due largely to our still vigorous federal judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Like some of the Court’s worst decisions of the past four years (Bush v. Gore again comes to mind), most of its bestsalvaging affirmative action, upholding civil liberties for terrorist suspects, striking down Texas’s anti-sodomy law, banning executions of the mentally retardedwere reached by one- or two-vote majorities. (Roe v. Wade is two justices removed from reversal.) All but one of the sitting justices are senior citizens, ranging in age from sixty-five to eighty-four, and the gap since the last appointmentten yearsis the longest since 1821. Bush has said more than once that Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are his favorite justices. In a second Bush term, the Court could be remade in their images.
The record is similarly dismal in other areas of domestic policy. An executive order giving former Presidents the power to keep their papers indefinitely sealed is one example among many of a mania for secrecy that long antedates 9/11. The President’s hostility to science, exemplified by his decision to place crippling limits on federal support of stem-cell research and by a systematic willingness to distort or suppress scientific findings discomfiting to “the base,” is such that scores of eminent scientists who are normally indifferent to politics have called for his defeat. The Administration’s energy policies, especially its resistance to increasing fuel-efficiency requirements, are of a piece with its environmental irresponsibility. Even the highly touted No Child Left Behind education program, enacted with the support of the liberal lion Edward Kennedy, is being allowed to fail, on account of grossly inadequate funding. Some of the money that has been pumped into it has been leached from other education programs, dozens of which are slated for cuts next year.
Ordinarily, such a record would be what lawyers call dispositive. But this election is anything but ordinary. Jobs, health care, education, and the rest may not count for much when weighed against the prospect of large-scale terrorist attack. The most important Presidential responsibility of the next four years, as of the past three, is the “war on terror”more precisely, the struggle against a brand of Islamist fundamentalist totalitarianism that uses particularly ruthless forms of terrorism as its main weapon.
Bush’s immediate reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, was an almost palpable bewilderment and anxiety. Within a few days, to the universal relief of his fellow-citizens, he seemed to find his focus. His decision to use American military power to topple the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, who had turned their country into the principal base of operations for the perpetrators of the attacks, earned the near-unanimous support of the American people and of America’s allies. Troops from Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Norway, and Spain are serving alongside Americans in Afghanistan to this day.
The determination of ordinary Afghans to vote in last month’s Presidential election, for which the votes are still being counted, is clearly a positive sign. Yet the job in Afghanistan has been left undone, despite fervent promises at the outset that the chaos that was allowed to develop after the defeat of the Soviet occupation in the nineteen-eighties would not be repeated. The Taliban has regrouped in eastern and southern regions. Bin Laden’s organization continues to enjoy sanctuary and support from Afghans as well as Pakistanis on both sides of their common border. Warlords control much of Afghanistan outside the capital of Kabul, which is the extent of the territorial writ of the decent but beleaguered President Hamid Karzai. Opium production has increased fortyfold.
The White House’s real priorities were elsewhere from the start. According to the former counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, in a Situation Room crisis meeting on September 12, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld suggested launching retaliatory strikes against Iraq. When Clarke and others pointed out to him that Al Qaedathe presumed culpritwas based in Afghanistan, not Iraq, Rumsfeld is said to have remarked that there were better targets in Iraq. The bottom line, as Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has said, was that the Bush-Cheney team had been planning to carry out regime change in Baghdad well before September 11thone way or another, come what may.
At all three debates, President Bush defended the Iraq war by saying that without it Saddam Hussein would still be in power. This is probably true, and Saddam’s record of colossal cruelty--of murder, oppression, and regional aggression--was such that even those who doubted the war’s wisdom acknowledged his fall as an occasion for satisfaction. But the removal of Saddam has not been the war’s only consequence; and, as we now know, his power, however fearsome to the millions directly under its sway, was far less of a threat to the United States and the rest of the world than it pretendedand, more important, was made outto be.
As a variety of memoirs and journalistic accounts have made plain, Bush seldom entertains contrary opinion. He boasts that he listens to no outside advisers, and inside advisers who dare to express unwelcome views are met with anger or disdain. He lives and works within a self-created bubble of faith-based affirmation. Nowhere has his solipsism been more damaging than in the case of Iraq. The arguments and warnings of analysts in the State Department, in the Central Intelligence Agency, in the uniformed military services, and in the chanceries of sympathetic foreign governments had no more effect than the chants of millions of marchers.
The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was made on the basis of four assumptions: first, that Saddam’s regime was on the verge of acquiring nuclear explosives and had already amassed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons; second, that the regime had meaningful links with Al Qaeda and (as was repeatedly suggested by the Vice-President and others) might have had something to do with 9/11; third, that within Iraq the regime’s fall would be followed by prolonged celebration and rapid and peaceful democratization; and, fourth, that a similar democratic transformation would be precipitated elsewhere in the region, accompanied by a new eagerness among Arab governments and publics to make peace between Israel and a presumptive Palestinian state. The first two of these assumptions have been shown to be entirely baseless. As for the second two, if the wishes behind them do someday come true, it may not be clear that the invasion of Iraq was a help rather than a hindrance.
In Bush’s rhetoric, the Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, with precision bombings of government buildings in Baghdad, and ended exactly three weeks later, with the iconic statue pulldown. That military operation was indeed a success. But the cakewalk led over a cliff, to a succession of heedless and disastrous mistakes that leave one wondering, at the very least, how the Pentagon’s civilian leadership remains intact and the President’s sense of infallibility undisturbed. The failure, against the advice of such leaders as General Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, to deploy an adequate protective force led to unchallenged looting of government buildings, hospitals, museums, andmost inexcusable of allarms depots. (“Stuff happens,” Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld explained, though no stuff happened to the oil ministry.) The Pentagon all but ignored the State Department’s postwar plans, compiled by its Future of Iraq project, which warned not only of looting but also of the potential for insurgencies and the folly of relying on exiles such as Ahmad Chalabi; the project’s head, Thomas Warrick, was sidelined. The White House counsel’s disparagement of the Geneva Conventions and of prohibitions on torture as “quaint” opened the way to systematic and spectacular abuses at Abu Ghraib and other American-run prisons--a moral and political catastrophe for which, in a pattern characteristic of the Administration’s management style, no one in a policymaking position has been held accountable. And, no matter how Bush may cleave to his arguments about a grand coalition (“What’s he say to Tony Blair?” “He forgot Poland!”), the coalition he assembled was anything but grand, and it has been steadily melting away in Iraq’s cauldron of violence.
By the end of the current fiscal year, the financial cost of this war will be two hundred billion dollars (the figure projected by Lawrence Lindsey, who headed the President’s Council of Economic Advisers until, like numerous other bearers of unpalatable news, he was cashiered) and rising. And there are other, more serious costs that were unforeseen by the dominant factions in the Administration (although there were plenty of people who did foresee them). The United States has become mired in a low-intensity guerrilla war that has taken more lives since the mission was declared to be accomplished than before. American military deaths have mounted to more than a thousand, a number that underplays the real level of suffering: among the eight thousand wounded are many who have been left seriously maimed. The toll of Iraqi dead and wounded is of an order of magnitude greater than the American. Al Qaeda, previously an insignificant presence in Iraq, is an important one now. Before this war, we had persuaded ourselves and the world that our military might was effectively infinite. Now it is overstretched, a reality obvious to all. And, if the exposure of American weakness encourages our enemies, surely the blame lies with those who created the reality, not with those who, like Senator Kerry, acknowledge it as a necessary step toward changing it.
When the Administration’s geopolitical, national-interest, and anti-terrorism justifications for the Iraq war collapsed, it groped for an argument from altruism: postwar chaos, violence, unemployment, and brownouts notwithstanding, the war has purchased freedoms for the people of Iraq which they could not have had without Saddam’s fall. That is true. But a sad and ironic consequence of this war is that its fumbling prosecution has undermined its only even arguably meritorious rationaleand, as a further consequence, the salience of idealism in American foreign policy has been likewise undermined. Foreign-policy idealism has taken many formsWilson’s aborted world federalism, Carter’s human-rights jawboning, and Reagan’s flirtation with total nuclear disarmament, among others. The failed armed intervention in Somalia and the successful ones in the Balkans are other examples. The neoconservative version ascendant in the Bush Administration, post-9/11, draws partly on these strains. There is surely idealistic purpose in envisioning a Middle East finally relieved of its autocracies and dictatorships. Yet this Administration’s adventure in Iraq is so gravely flawed and its credibility so badly damaged that in the future, faced with yet another moral dilemma abroad, it can be expected to retreat, a victim of its own Iraq Syndrome.
The damage visited upon America, and upon America’s standing in the world, by the Bush Administration’s reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. But the challenger has more to offer than the fact that he is not George W. Bush. In every crucial area of concern to Americans (the economy, health care, the environment, Social Security, the judiciary, national security, foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism), Kerry offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush’s curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery. Pollsters like to ask voters which candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, and on that metric Bush always wins. We prefer to ask which candidate is better suited to the governance of our nation.
Throughout his long career in public service, John Kerry has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character. The physical courage he showed in combat in Vietnam was matched by moral courage when he raised his voice against the war, a choice that has carried political costs from his first run for Congress, lost in 1972 to a campaign of character assassination from a local newspaper that could not forgive his antiwar stand, right through this year’s Swift Boat ads. As a senator, Kerry helped expose the mischief of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a money-laundering operation that favored terrorists and criminal cartels; when his investigation forced him to confront corruption among fellow-Democrats, he rejected the cronyism of colleagues and brought down power brokers of his own party with the same dedication that he showed in going after Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal. His leadership, with John McCain, of the bipartisan effort to put to rest the toxic debate over Vietnam-era P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s and to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Washington’s normalization of relations with Hanoi, in the mid-nineties, was the signal accomplishment of his twenty years on Capitol Hill, and it is emblematic of his fairness of mind and independence of spirit. Kerry has made mistakes (most notably, in hindsight at least, his initial opposition to the Gulf War in 1990), butin contrast to the President, who touts his imperviousness to changing realities as a virtuehe has learned from them.
Kerry’s performance on the stump has been uneven, and his public groping for a firm explanation of his position on Iraq was discouraging to behold. He can be cautious to a fault, overeager to acknowledge every angle of an issue; and his reluctance to expose the Administration’s appalling record bluntly and relentlessly until very late in the race was a missed opportunity. But when his foes sought to destroy him rather than to debate him they found no scandals and no evidence of bad faith in his past. In the face of infuriating and scurrilous calumnies, he kept the sort of cool that the thin-skinned and painfully insecure incumbent cannot even feign during the unprogrammed give-and-take of an electoral debate. Kerry’s mettle has been tested under firethe fire of real bullets and the political fire that will surely not abate but, rather, intensify if he is electedand he has shown himself to be tough, resilient, and possessed of a properly Presidential dose of dignified authority. While Bush has pandered relentlessly to the narrowest urges of his base, Kerry has sought to appeal broadly to the American center. In a time of primitive partisanship, he has exhibited a fundamentally undogmatic temperament. In campaigning for America’s mainstream restoration, Kerry has insisted that this election ought to be decided on the urgent issues of our moment, the issues that will define American life for the coming half century. That insistence is a measure of his character. He is plainly the better choice. As observers, reporters, and commentators we will hold him to the highest standards of honesty and performance. For now, as citizens, we hope for his victory.
My father sent this to me. I thought it was pretty good.
This individual seeks an executive position. He will be available next January, and is willing to relocate.
GEORGE W. BUSH
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.
I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.
I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.
Past Work Experience:
I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but
couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my
stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected
governor of Texas.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS:
- I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.
- I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
- I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.
- With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after
losing by over 500,000 votes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
- I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
- I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
- I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.
- I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
- I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
- I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
- I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market. In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.
- I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
- I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.
- I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
- My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
- My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my
- I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent
investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the
biggest corporate rip-offs in history. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
- I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.
- I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
- I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.
- I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.
- I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.
- I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.
- I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.
- I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
- I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).
- I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
- I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
- I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
- I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people),
shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.
- I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S.
citizens, and the world community.
- I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in
- In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.
- I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
- I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.
- I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.
RECORDS AND REFERENCES:
-All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.
- All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
- All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
PLEASE CONSIDER MY EXPERIENCE WHEN VOTING IN 2004!
"This was passed to me, but I can't understand it. Maybe you can,
I'm trying to get all this political stuff straightened out in my head
so I'll know how to vote come November. Right now, we have one guy saying one thing. Then the other guy says something else. Who to believe. Lemme see if I have got this straight?
Clinton awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Yugoslavia - good...
Bush awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Iraq - bad...
Clinton spends 77 billion on war in Serbia - Good...
Bush spends 87 billion in Iraq - Bad...
Clinton imposes regime change in Serbia - Good...
Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - Bad...
Clinton bombs Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslim Albanian terrorists- Good...
Bush liberates 25 million from a genocidal dictator - Bad...
Clinton bombs Chinese embassy - Good...
Bush bombs terrorist camps - Bad.
Clinton commits felonies while in office - Good...
Bush lands on aircraft carrier in jumpsuit - Bad...
No mass graves found in Serbia - Good...
No WMD found Iraq - bad...
Stock market crashes in 2000 under Clinton - Good...
Economy on upswing under Bush - Bad...
Clinton refuses to take custody of Bin Laden - good...
World Trade Centers fall under Bush - Bad...
Clinton says Saddam has nukes - good...
Bush says Saddam has nukes - bad...
Clinton calls for regime change in Iraq - Good...
Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - Bad...
Terrorist training in Afghanistan under Clinton - Good...
Bush destroys training camps in Afghanistan - Bad...
Milosevic not yet convicted - good...
Saddam turned over for trial - bad..."
Well,there is no telling all the stuff that is going to come out about the Bush Administration once they’re gone from office. Hopefully either Obama or Hillary has a great Attorney General (please be Edwards!) that will hold them accountable.
I’m so ready to Ditch Mitch, Bush’s point man on so many things. I’m representing with the bumper sticker on my car. Heck yes.