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Paint Bush as the Incompetent Slacker He Is
May 18, 2002
By Jackson Thoreau

Well. The mainstream media is finally letting some mild criticism of Bush seep into its coverage. Much of it is fairly wimpy, such as Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz admitting, "Unfairly, perhaps, it smells like the administration wasn't being entirely candid in the aftermath."

Duh. And this is the paper which supposedly exposed Watergate?

At least the Associated Press, CNN, and others have been letting family members of Sept. 11 victims criticize Bush & Co. so we can all see that it's not just partisan sniping by Democrats - as Republicans would have you believe.

"It's shameful that they knew as much as they did and didn't warn anyone," Stephen Push, of Great Falls, Va., told the Associated Press. His wife, Lisa Raines, was killed aboard the airplane that struck the Pentagon. "They put the business interests of the airlines above the lives of the citizens."

Donn Marshall of Marbury, Md., whose wife Shelley also died at the Pentagon, more directly put the blame on Bush: "It sort of makes you wonder where the get-tough president was when he was getting all this information, why they didn't react act more vigorously...The notion that American planes might be hijacked, that should have caused more concern, even if we didn't think that they might be flown into things."

Members of Congress are now lining up to join Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., in her call for an investigation into the tragedy. When McKinney first bravely made a public request for such an inquiry several weeks ago, she was derided by some of these same members and the Bush White House as loony, and her patriotism was questioned. I guess after the New York Post blares a headline saying "BUSH KNEW," then it's patriotic to call for an investigation.

"It now becomes clear why the Bush administration has been vigorously opposing congressional hearings," McKinney said. "The Bush administration has been engaged in a conspiracy of silence...Because I love my country, because I am a patriot, and because the American people deserve the truth, I believe it would be dangerous, loony, and irresponsible not to hold full congressional hearings on any warnings the Bush administration had before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001."

What most of these stories fail to point out is the incredible fact that in the month that Bush was supposedly warned of impending terrorist attacks, he was on a month-long vacation at his Texas retreat. Let me put it this way: Bush fiddled while the World Trade Center burned.

No matter what political stripe you are, such irresponsibility by our country's top leader is mind-boggling, even by someone as immature and mentally lazy as Bush. Perhaps Clinton or Gore, the rightful winner in the 2000 election, might not have been able to avert the tragedy. But at least Clinton and Gore would not have taken a vacation in Texas for a month right before it.

The bottom line is that Bush knew about these warnings, and he went on vacation for a month. I repeat: Bush was warned, and he couldn't be bothered with acting on those warnings because he needed to relax at the ranch. Bush was in a position to do more to warn airports and others places, and he slacked off. A competent president would have been on the phone constantly at least making sure everyone took the warnings seriously. At least then we would have known the president did what he could to try to avert it.

Never mind all that spin Bush's people put out about his Texas ranch being the "Western White House," and how it was a working vacation. It was still a vacation away from the actual White House - and that's why I am even more infuriated when Bush & Co. call it the "Western White House." That's a slap in the face to our country's traditions and history. There is but one White House, Bush. Either "work" there, or be seen as the slacker you are.

Why did Bush have to spend a month at the Texas ranch after only six months on the job? Why does Bush still take two-hour lunches when he is in Washington, exercising at 11 a.m. when most people are still hard at work, as he did when he was Texas governor? Does he still play computer video games at "work" these days, as he did when he was Texas governor?

I'm repeating Bush's August vacation so much because that is a substantial point with which we should pound opponents, the media, politicians, and others. I have already spent considerable time arguing with conservatives about this, and when I bring up Bush's vacation, they have no response. They go back to bashing Clinton, as if he was our nation's top leader on vacation last August.

The August vacation reminds me of Bush's father's clueless comments on the economy, and how he attempted to bond with the masses by suggesting that he knew how most people lived (despite not even knowing about grocery store scanners), that doomed his re-election chances in 1992. Especially when you throw in other aspects, like Bush Jr. using a Sept. 11 photo of him making a phone call from the safety of Air Force One to raise millions for partisan Republican purposes.

But keep harping on the August vacation - that hits home with moderates, independents, and those who don't really follow politics. One friend, who can't even recall who he voted for in 2000, had this response to me: "Yeah, Bush can go on vacation for a month and ignore the warnings, while I'm working harder and even got laid off in the process."

The slacker image resonates with people like this whom we need to connect with, to show how incompetent Bush really is, to get them to think about voting against him and other Republicans once they venture back inside a voting precinct. Just like Bush's father was painted as being an elitist, Bush needs to be painted as the incompetent slacker he is.

When you're too busy to take a vacation this summer, just remember: Our supposed top leader is not too busy to take a whole month off, even when he is warned of a potential national tragedy.

Jackson Thoreau is co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 110,000-word electronic book can be downloaded here, here, or here. Thoreau can be emailed at

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