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The Real Story: In the Doghouse at 100 Days
May 9, 2001
by Maren L. Hickton

The Real Story: In the Doghouse at 100 Days

At 100 days, Bush was flattered with poetic embraces by the Pollyanna press, with seductive headlines such as, "Less is More," touting him as some sort of worldly CEO of America the beautiful. The fanfare included variations of a similar theme discussing the "mature" President -- as if we should expect anything less -- with the veep proclaiming in interview and article that Bush is really the man running the show. Bush credited himself for changing the tone in Washington with "civility in politics." Granted, the current facade at the White House is splendid, complete with a full cast of dressed-for-success stuffed shirts wearing stylish nooses around their necks all holed-up in private meetings with no cell phones going off. But those who ascribe to the notion that Bush is "dramatically less visible" by his own design should consider adjusting their periscope: The real story at the White House is who's going to be able to control Bush's leash and who's in current possession of his muzzle.

Now that the pomp and circumstance of well-moussed dos and Survivor spoofs are over, I think it's high-time we cut the crap:

1. Civility
By every indication, Bush has demonstrated no interest in having any kind of dialogue with the Democrats in the House or Senate from his first week in office and continuing. He introduces legislation first, care of appointed GOP sponsors, with a planned end run on debate and negotiations second. He targets only those Democratic members of Congress who appear to be insecure in their own districts to support his agenda with his egoism feeding a frenzied delusion where he is convinced that bipartisanship equals being polite and doing what he says. That is not civility.

By what mandate did Americans ever agree that we wanted a House of genteel Representatives voting by Executive Branch remote control?

Are we expected to cave-in to the fact that while there is a divisive off-balance of power in all branches of government, it automatically gives license to the new administration to ignore the will of the majority of the people?

Do any of Bush's actions, by any stretch of the imagination, demonstrate civility, which includes an appearance of consideration, tact, deference or courtesy?

I, for one, not only want, but expect, "in-your-face" representation -- with Representatives voting by the consensus of their constituency, not by party directives. To suggest that any member of Congress lacks the ability to negotiate with a requisite level of decorum and/or abide by the rules on the floor is ludicrous. Being polite, for polite-sake, or compromising conscience for the sake of Party solidarity has absolutely nothing to do with taking care of the business of this nation. Throwing up hurdles and constructing gridlock is sometimes necessary to prevent bills from becoming law that could do irreparable harm to the people of America and this country internationally.

The President doesn't even offer the illusion of civility, here or abroad.

2. Maturity
Plenty have said it before and I will say it again: Bush is not qualified to be President. He lacks maturity not only on the basis of his range of business experience, but also on a social level. While I am sure that his parents dearly love him, they did him a great disservice by not expecting him to stand on his own two feet. Every oil business venture that Bush initiated or was involved in, starting with Arbusto Energy, Inc., a small company of his own, ended up being sold at a loss or he was bailed out -- one way or another, before going bust. Bush was quoted as saying, "I understand small business. I was one." Hardly. All of his business dealings, including his purchase of the Texas Rangers, reveal that Bush, with the help of his family, was nothing more than a money changer. Buy low, sell high, and if the SEC starts an investigation, call your dad. Repeated personal failure may be the root of Bush's twisted moral gyroscope and unwritten agenda which in summary we can dub, Bush's Big Business Initiative. Bush had a disastrous record as Governor of Texas, with plenty of squawking lately about the big mess he left behind, yet he brazenly continues to toss the same old rubbish out there: big business first and to hell with everybody else.

With regard to Bush's social skills (giving Bush the benefit of the doubt that he has had probably 15 minutes to think for himself since taking office), the China accident did become an incident that we should not forget. Not because the Chinese have "started to behave more aggressive lately," but because the press secretary failed to muzzle the President before he started all the tough talk about what we may do if other countries do not do what we say. This was after Bush bombed Iraq for no apparent reason, after he offended many world leaders due to his failure to have regular direct dialogue with them -- leading to the comment that Bush is an "isolationist," and the Administration's continual propensity to rebuff pleas for third-party intervention from allies seeking our help. The President can't, on the one hand, make policy that the United States is not going to involve itself in nation-building and, on the other, decide we will become arms dealers or the world's missile defense contractor and expect that countries will not become apprehensive and react to these kinds of fears. Diplomatic communications are particularly critical during any transition period, especially when world news reports question a President's motives and commitment to find consensus on a variety of issues within his own nation. The lost seat on the U.N. commission that probes human rights occurred from failure to act due to arrogant assumptions on the part of the new Administration and is an absolute disgrace. If we accept GOP nationalism, common sense dictates that governing from this perspective needs to be seriously redressed and brought forward to global world operations in the 21st Century, before more Bush mistakes are made.

3. Less is rude
President Clinton's numerous contributions to the wealth and security of this nation resulted from his superior diplomatic skills and many trips abroad that some thoughtless people complained about because they failed to understand this worthwhile investment. Clinton understood from the beginning that confident world leaders do not hide in an oval office, appearing like some kind of snob -- expecting other world leaders to come to you; you go to them. He went to them, not only because he was regularly invited, but because he was a proactive leader who demonstrably cared about the world realizing that what transpired in other parts of the world, without a doubt, affected us. Clinton formed solid friendships with many of these world leaders with long distance travel and phone usage, resulting in improved U.S. relations. The Bush administration reports money the new administration is saving Americans from less international calling, while former key relationships are in fragments.

A respected President does not buck welcome home or other celebrations because he has social phobias or because he'd rather go to his ranch to relax. He attends these events and shakes hands simply because it is the right thing to do. This has nothing to do with being a "headline hog" since these gatherings are supposed to be about the event and not about the President. The reason Clinton got so much ink was because the press swooned to their knees and made Clinton a celebrity. The conservative press is typically better behaved, so Bush needn't worry about such things.

When environmental or other major groups send the President e-mail's or petitions (especially when most Americans are more concerned about the color of the earth as opposed to the color of money -- the President's favorite subject), the White House should not be so foolish as to return these e-mail's to the sender, ducking under the rhetoric of "jammed servers" and other assorted nonsense in press releases, dismissing these issues. Americans should expect to receive, at minimum, an acknowledgment -- with a level of attentiveness to the matter measured by the weight of the request, not by the whims of the President's staff.

In summary, I hope that Mr. Bush soon recognizes that while he may be the CEO of the business of America, the people are the majority shareholders. If the President doesn't soon reach out in a constructive way to form consensus concerning both national and international issues with all of our Representatives and get America's real priorities in order quick, the upper hand of Republicans in the House will be discarded by suit, easy come-easy go, in the next round of elections.

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