Democratic Underground

Selective Advice
April 3, 2001
by Ken Alford

Friends said, "If Bush is elected, at least he will have 'competent advisers' around him - people like Colin Powell and Christie Whitman." In hindsight, maybe that is not such a comforting thought.

Recents comments and changes in policies should give us pause. Secretary of State Powell ventures out into the world, confident in his moderate opinions and his many experiences in foreign affairs. On the safe assumption that he could comment on the recent progress made in Korea, he makes statements that are immediately contradicted by the President of the United States.

The "competent adviser" has become the competent "subject". Foreign leaders question our policy. Are rational people in control?

Christie Todd Whitman, most moderate of present-day Republicans, comments in public about Mr. Bush's commitment to the improvement in CO2 emissions into our atmosphere. It was a safe comment. After all, Mr. Bush had made the pronouncements in his debates with Al Gore.

No sooner it was said than it was contradicted by Mr. Bush. Strike one against Christie Whitman. As proof of her loyalty to Mr. Bush and his policies, she is called out to make an even more painful declaration. Mr. Bush will no longer accept the new standard for the amount of arsenic allowed in our drinking water. We need further scientific study, she says.

Such a trivial matter, arsenic in our drinking water. Strike two against Ms. Whitman.

What does it all mean? If Mr. Bush is not listening to his moderate advisers then who is in charge? Either he is making the decisions himself or the most radical of his advisers have his ear. In either event, it is great cause for concern.

Even his strongest supporters do not feel Mr. Bush is capable of leading without input from his advisers. The moderates dare not speak a discouraging word. Because Republicans demand loyalty. The Bush family demands loyalty. They demand loyalty that will cover for embarrassing facts. They demand loyalty that will hide ineptness and crime. They demand loyalty that protects them from character attacks.

Those that disagree will find themselves on the outside - as we are already discovering.


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