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Character is Fate
March 18, 2003
By punpirate

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 internationally.

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.

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