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It's Time To Go Back To Crawford
September 30, 2003
By Dennis Jones

We are already deep into the election cycle which will decide George W. Bush's political fate. The real American pastime - that of spinning the truth - is once again front and center on the field of politics. Each of the teams in this contest will compete with all of the skills at their command and the truth inevitably comes up with the lower score. Somehow we must sift through all of the bullshit to decide who will lead us in the next four years.

For me the answer is easy - anybody but Bush! In my opinion this president is on a fast track to competing with Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce as the worst president in American history. I'm putting my money on Bush.

I believe that the president is a decent person and I think it's ludicrous to say that he is a liar. Like all politicians he has mastered the ability to look through the rosiest-colored glasses and present what he sees as the absolute truth. George Bush wasn't responsible for the recession. He didn't have anything to do with the corporate scandals, and he was as much of a victim of 9/11 as the rest of us.

I also know that he hasn't done anything useful to fix these problems, but you wouldn't know it if you listen to the daily propaganda put out by the Bush spin machine. And while he wasn't setting our country on the road to solutions, he was managing to drag us backward on many, many other problems.

George W. Bush's record on the environment is absolutely awful. He steadfastly refuses to address human contributions to global warming. His answer to oil dependence is more drilling everywhere without any intent to address federal fuel efficiency standards. He advocates ruinous changes in forest policy as an answer to forest fires. He is right about that - if we cut down all of the trees there will be no more forest fires. He has emasculated controls over mining on federal lands. His administration steadfastly refuses to consider any new protections for wild lands and has weakened regulations covering those already protected.

Almost always, his answer is that the corporate leaders, through the goodness of their hearts, will do the right thing - never mind that they lie about their profits, cheat on their taxes, and lay off thousands of employees while simultaneously counting the outrageous multi-million dollar bonuses that they pay themselves. In any situation when there is a potential conflict between big business and the environment can anyone remember when George W. Bush came down on the side of the environment?

He pushed tax cuts with practically nothing in them for the working men and women and then distorted the truth. He has perfected the method of throwing a few bones to the poor and the middle class while the steaks and dessert roll in the back door for the wealthy. We're told that they benevolently fuel the engine of the economy with their money and create jobs for us stupid schmucks at the bottom of the feeding chain. They've done such a great job so far that we have only lost three million jobs in the last two years and managed to run up record deficits so that our grandchildren will have something to remember us by.

In the meantime he also thumbed his nose at beleaguered state governments. The result is that governors are going to have to cut wasteful spending like education, fire and police protection and health care for the poor. If not that, then they will have to raise taxes on those of us who are lucky enough to have a job. I guess it fails to dawn on those who support Bush that those state and local tax increases will nicely cancel any crumbs which the middle class received from federal tax cuts. Net result - no additional demand and no new jobs! What we did get, according to Forbes magazine, was a tidy 10% increase in the net worth of the wealthiest among us.

I could go on and on about the damage to domestic policy that George W. Bush is responsible for. But foreign policy is the area where Bush has done the most damage. After 9/11 the country as a whole rallied around the president. As a matter of fact the support for the U.S. around the world was almost unanimous. He said all of the right things and he took the right action when he sent the military into Afghanistan to nail the terrorists who struck us. The country supported him and was entirely willing to make any sacrifice to purge Afghanistan of al-Qaeda and their supporters. While the purse was not bottomless, most Americans were willing to do what was necessary. They were willing to make hard choices.

I love my country, and on the whole I believe that our record in foreign affairs is a good one. We have not always acted with the most noble of motives but most of the time we have been on the right side in international disputes. The American people have sacrificed blood and treasure repeatedly in the defense of freedom and opportunity. It would be impossible to find another example in history when the most powerful of nations acted as benevolently as we have. Our standard of living and our values have been the envy of the world for over 200 years. The attacks of 9/11 helped to bring almost every nation on the face of the earth to support us. There was unbelievable support for our policy of bringing the perpetrators of the attacks to justice as well as the Taliban which supported them.

George W. Bush correctly used that support to drive the Taliban from power. With all of the wisdom of the ages he then decided to turn to Iraq and turn that support into unbelievable opposition. "Iraq is definitely the most dangerous place on the face of the earth. This is where we can smite our foes a blow and deliver the American people from terror. This is where we can get al-Qaeda. This will make us safer. The world will thank us and see the wisdom of our leadership." The Bushies weren't looking through rose-colored glasses. They weren't looking at all. They just knew that they were right!

A huge majority of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 and the Bushies did nothing to set that record straight. They said that he had ties to al-Qaeda. They told us that he had huge quantities of weapons of mass destruction and was preparing to use them. They told us that he was reinstituting his nuclear weapons program. They told us that he was an imminent threat to the United States. They said that we couldn't allow the next warning to be a mushroom cloud over an American city. Had those things been true I believe that they would have been justified in invading Iraq and diverting our attention from Bin laden and al-Qaeda.

But surprise, surprise, surprise, they were wrong. What we have here is industrial strength miscalculation. Five hundred years from now they may still be looking for proof of their argument. They can dig up the entire country and they are never going to find that imminent threat, because it wasn't there and anybody really looking at the situation could see that. They will argue until they are blue in the face that Saddam Hussein was a very bad man that he treated his people horribly and that was reason enough for committing American lives and treasure in the sands of Iraq. They will still be wrong.

And what have we won for our efforts in Iraq? Bush has done the impossible. He has managed to place the United States, the victims of 9/11, on the list of international bad guys. We are privileged to have 140,000 of our sons and daughters serve as targets for every terrorist within 5000 miles of Baghdad. It is our good fortune to be able to spend $170 billion of our money on Iraq at a time when we are running staggering deficits and many programs are wanting for funding here at home. Does anybody really believe that they are being honest about those figures?

And the really great thing is that our luck in this regard in going to continue into the foreseeable future! Bush finally did hit the real trifecta. We don't have the troops to address the really serious problems which confront us, we don't have the money to even clean the road kill off of our roads, let alone repair them, and we don't have the support of anybody in this misguided adventure.

Now we are stuck. No person of knowledge would seriously suggest that we can leave Iraq now that we are there. There may not have been terrorists who were threatening the United States in Iraq before the war, but there sure as hell are a lot of them there now. We bombed their country and now we owe it to the people of Iraq to help fix it up. The prestige of our country demands that we do everything that we can do help them govern themselves while we keep the wolves from their door. The idea may be a noble one, but the cost is going to be staggering and our efforts will have done nothing to help make us safer. Get ready for thousands more casualties and be ready to spend hundreds of billions more in Iraq.

In the meantime we are going to have to deal with North Korea. They are as brutal as Saddam Hussein ever hoped to be. They say that they have nuclear weapons. We say that they probably have nuclear weapons. The world agrees that they probably have nuclear weapons and they have the means to strike us with those weapons. We have proof that they have sold some of their weapons to rogue regimes. What is to prevent them from doing so with the terrorists?

And let's consider Pakistan. They have nuclear weapons, they have missiles and they have terrorists - lots of them. People in their intelligence agency and large numbers of their population sympathize with our enemies. The regime in power lacks popular support. It may very well be the most dangerous country in the world.

We have many hard choices ahead of us and the question before us is about whether we trust George W. Bush and his coterie of advisors to make those decisions. His gifts to us are numerous - huge deficits and the prospect that they will be with us for a long time, a lousy economy, a declining environment and a social program based on religious zealotry. He has committed our country to a cause in Iraq that we may very well not win, but in which we cannot fail. How can we believe them when they cannot even admit the obvious about Iraq now? Personally I will never forgive him for committing us to the bottomless pit in Iraq at a time when we should have been routing out the bastards who attacked us on 9/11.

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