March 18, 2003
It's now as if no one, not a soul in this country, remembers
what Bush said during his campaign. Certainly, if no one can
remember what the hell he said, no one can hold him accountable.
Time for a little institutional memory: On the Oct. 31st preceding
the 2000 election, George W. Bush said, "You can't say one
thing and do another."
Seems that George W., unlike the first George president,
Mr. Washington, can tell a lie. Repeatedly. With great variation.
With immense feeling. Those voters happy to think of Bush
in the terms his spinners created and cast their votes for
him ought to think again. Molly Ivins, who followed his time
in Texas with more care and attention than the casual voters
who thought Bush was a great guy, said, "watch what he does,
not what he says," and was right.
Here are a few of the whoppers in the context of a couple
of years of the Bushies:
All you Bush voters listened to the Bush line about being
a "humble nation," and treating our world neighbors with "humility"
and when push came to shove in the latest Bush obsession with
war, the wheedling, bullying, threats and bribes came to the
fore. When the rest of the world, through the auspices of
the UN said, "nope, no good," the Bushies have intimated that
we, the US of A, will go it alone. Screw the rest of the world.
So much for humility. Truth is, this is the most arrogant
bunch to occupy the White House since the Nixon years.
When the economy was healthy, Bush said we needed a tax
cut for the rich to keep it healthy. When the economy soured
under his watch, he said we needed a tax cut for the wealthy
to pull it out of the doldrums. When that didn't work, he
said we needed another tax cut for the fat cats for long-term
growth. But, those people making peanuts who voted for him
still think he's talking about them....
"Free trade" was a mantra for Bush and his crew, until his
constituency (wealthy corporations) complained about Canadian
lumber and foreign steel, and there were suddenly tariffs
applied, however indifferently. Everyone hoped that Bush meant
"fair trade" and not "free trade." Nope.
In February, 2002, Bush smiled on minor tax credits for
hybrid-electric vehicles. During the campaign, he derided
Gore for suggesting support for such vehicles, often with
a smirk and derisive laughter. Later, when big tax credits
for gas-hogging SUVs were suggested by the Bushies, no one
remembered February, 2002.
The triple-cross: during the campaign, Bush dissed "nation-building."
When it was apparent that the U.S. was determined to rearrange
rocks in Afghanistan and destroy what little existing infrastructure
Afghanistan had, nation-building was on the lips of every
one of his staff. By 2003, money for that had disappeared
from the Bush budget. A few sheepish Republicans corrected
Mr. Bush's staff error, but only to the tune of $300 million
for each of the following two years, about a fifth of what
is actually required to make a difference each year; estimates
from aid organizations estimate the real need, just to correct
the damage US bombing has done and to bring stability to the
country to be roughly $20 billion over ten years.
Kyoto Protocol? During the campaign, carbon dioxide controls
were okay with Mr. Bush. Today, that's a figment of the imagination
of the docile press. Not only did Bush back out of the Kyoto
accord, the "Clear Skies Initiative" lately promoted by the
Bushies is a weary retread of Texas policy for voluntary compliance
created by industry flacks appointed by Bush and which has
consequently awarded Texas the sobriquet of having the worst
air and water quality, combined, in the entire nation.
Bush supported conservation and alternative energy sources
in his campaign, but his first budgets have halved federal
funding for research on those efforts. Further, Bush's Vice-President
has refused to release any data on meetings in the formulation
of national energy policy.
All in all, Bush represented himself to the voters by his
own words as a moderate politician, sensible and sensate.
By his public utterances during his campaign, contrasted with
his policy decisions in office, he's turned out to be wholly
the opposite of what he described himself to be. That means,
quite simply, that George W. Bush is an outright liar, misrepresenting
himself, the people he intended for appointment to public
office, and the direction in which he intended to take the
country, which is, ultimately, ours, not his.
These days, Bush's handlers and the complacent press have
been likening the lesser of two Bushes to Teddy Roosevelt,
to Winston Churchill, to Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps a few quotes
are in order:
After WWII, Churchill, speaking in Mississippi, in 1946,
after the fears of war were over, said, "we must never cease
to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom
and the rights of which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking
world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the
Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find
their most famous expression in the American Declaration of
Independence." Mr. Bush's Attorney General has run roughshod
over the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus and trial by jury.
Perhaps the Declaration of Independence, the most radical
document in American history, is next.
Theodore Roosevelt, in his Inauguration Address of 1905,
said, "We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of
its greatness into relations with the other nations of the
earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities.
Toward all other nations, large and small, our attitude must
be one of cordial and sincere friendship.
"We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that
we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting
toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of
all their rights."
Roosevelt goes on to speak of such goals from a position
of strength. Mr. Bush has chosen to use our strength to bully
our allies and bribe the self-interested countries of the
world, in order to bend them to a transitory administration's
base aims for empire.
Abraham Lincoln said, "Character is like a tree and reputation
like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree
is the real thing." Mr. Bush's statements in his campaign
for the presidency have been what we have been led to believe
of his reputation, his shadow. His character, buried by himself,
by his own prevarications and omissions, and by the press,
at the behest of their corporate masters, is what is now being
revealed to us all. Mr. Bush's tree, his character, has dying
and rotten roots.
By a series of sad and cynically-minded mistakes, we now
have a man of demonstrably poor character representing all
of us to the world. His advisors, however independently they
may be allowed to speak, are choices of his, not ours, and
they, and he, are doing us all great damage, nationally and
Mr. Bush's public relations employees, while comparing him
to presidential icons of the past, have not compared him to
Heraclitus, who intimated, "character is fate." Mr. Bush's
character is flawed, as evidenced by his propensity toward
lies and his manic pursuit of war for questionable ends. As
goes Mr. Bush's fate, so goes ours and our nation's, unless
we exercise the rights afforded us by our democracy and remove
him of lesser character and install someone of greater honesty
and better character as our national spokesman and our guide
toward true democracy, the latter of which is our legacy and
our future, and our national character.
punpirate is a New Mexico writer, contemplating what was
once our character and what it is we've lately become.