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The Leadership of George W. Bush
May 27, 2004
By Scott C. Smith

George W. Bush's re-election campaign is underway, and the Bush camp has but one platform to run on: Bush's supposed leadership in the war on terror, and his leadership as the President of the United States. Yet George W. Bush's concept of leadership is to delegate everything, spend a lot of time napping, and then blame someone else when something horrible happens.

What kind of leader is George W. Bush? As a candidate, Bush promised an administration that would operate under the highest ethical standards. Yet even now, the Department of Justice is investigating who in the Bush administration leaked the name of a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak. The operative is the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson. Wilson believes the leak was in retaliation for a column he wrote for the New York Times in July of 2003.

Wilson had been dispatched in 2002 to investigate whether or not Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium. On July 6, 2003, his column appeared in the New York Times, accusing the Bush administration of manipulating data - soon after, his wife's name was leaked. The investigation is focusing on Vice President Cheney's office. Apparently those high standards of ethics do not apply to the vice president.

On the domestic front, Bush really has nothing of importance to hold up as an example of strong domestic policy. Bush's answer to most domestic woes is a tax cut. And other programs that Bush touted as a presidential candidate, such as No Child Left Behind, remain underfunded.

Another Bush domestic policy "win" is the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gives law enforcement tools to investigate terrorism by loosening procedures and situations requiring a warrant. Police in Las Vegas used provisions of the Patriot Act to fight such non-terrorist related crimes as money laundering and prostitution in 2003.

Bush also seems to want to emulate Italy, circa 1930s, with a policy that allows for the arrest and detention of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. These individuals lose all rights, are held without bail, and refused access to a lawyer. Isn't freedom great?

Creating a healthy economy, while not necessarily the job of the president, is something presidents take credit for. After Bush took office, the U.S. economy tanked, and Bush, paradoxically, has blamed both Bill Clinton and the war on terror for the health of the economy. Right-wingers immediately latched onto the phrase "The Bill Clinton Recession" as a response to the millions of jobs that have been lost under George W. Bush, and Bush himself blamed the economy, indirectly, on Bill Clinton.

Appearing on the Feb. 13 Face the Nation with Tim Russert, Bush stated, "The stock market started to decline in March 2000. That was the first sign that things were troubled. The recession started upon my arrival." Yet on May 2, 2003, Bush, in a speech to the Employees of United Defense Industry in Santa Clara, California, stated, "I know you hear talk about the deficit. And we've got a deficit because we went through a recession... we got a recession because we went to war."

Needless to say, Bush's answer to most economic problems, a tax cut, has not helped the economy much.

The platform Bush is going to emphasize more than anything is his leadership in the war on terror and the war in Iraq. And yes, while there has not been another terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, that's not necessarily because of Bush administration policy. Members of Al-Qaeda are still launching attacks at targets around the world. The mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, remains at large, despite a pledge by George W. Bush to capture him. On Sept. 17, 2001, Bush told reporters, "There's an old poster out West - Wanted, Dead or Alive... America wants him (bin Laden) brought to justice." Nearly three years later, there is no sign of bin Laden, and the Bush Administration does not mention his name.

In the last several weeks, the world has been rocked by the explosive revelation that United States soldiers were torturing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Photographs of the abuse appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes II last month. The abuse was first reported in January, but Commander in Chief George W. Bush claims he learned of it the same time the rest of America did - when he saw the photographs on television. A furious Bush, according to the Washington Post, privately admonished Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for failing to provide Bush with detailed and timely information of the investigation of the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

This situation begs the question: why didn't Rumsfeld inform his boss on what was going on at that prison? Damage has been done to our reputation in the Middle East, perhaps irreparably. This is the worst kind of publicity. And to think we almost kicked a president out of office for having an affair with an intern.

It's time for George W. Bush to step up to the plate and take action. It's time for George W. Bush to be a leader. If he can squeeze it in between naps and lengthy vacations to his Crawford, Texas ranch.


Scott C. Smith is a freelance writer from Beaverton, Oregon. Scott is a regular contributor to the Democratic Underground and Smirking Chimp web sites. Scott also writes for his web log, What's In Scott's Head, at scottcsmith.net

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