August 10, 2002
By Richard Prasad
This week, President Bush took time from his busy schedule
of golf playing and clearing brush from his ranch in Crawford
Texas, to visit those nine rescued miners. But of course wherever
Bush goes, hypocrisy follows.
In the speech on August 4th he used the phrase "spirit of
America" repeatedly to describe the rescue of the miners.
Truly, the rescue of the 9 miners trapped in a mine for 77
hours was a miraculous display of what a community can do
when they work together, but what did George W. Bush have
to do with making the rescue come to fruition? Little if anything.
If this was the Clinton administration, the conservative
critics would have been out in force as soon as he visited,
saying that Clinton is only out to feed his own ego and have
the fame of the miners reflect on him. Clinton's motives were
always self-absorbed, according to conservatives. But not
Bush, his motives are always pure and selfless.
The miners seemed happy to see Bush. "He's a cool guy. said
Robert Pugh, one of the trapped miners according to an August
5th New York Times article. Another miner enjoyed "the small
talk" of the President. So, as usual, the President projects
himself as an everyman, looking out for the safety and protection
of the blue collar working class.
But is that assessment of the President true? Not if you
believe certain members of the Senate. According to Paul Wellstone
and Ted Kennedy, in a July 26th New York Times article, the
Bush administration has proposed to cut the budget of the
Mine Safety and Health Administration by 6 percent. The MSHA
is the federal agency charged with promoting the safety of
mines, and preventing further accidents from occurring.
Republicans would probably say, 'What effect would a 6% cut
in the Mine Safety and Health Administration have on miners?'
Well, there's this fact. Mining deaths went up from 28 in
1998, to 42 last year. Would more money bring down those numbers
of deaths? Maybe or maybe not, but less money will certainly
make it harder for the federal government to protect coal
miners from harm. As usual, Republicans talk the talk, but
they refuse to walk the walk on safety when it means spending
Let's get to the real reason he was in Pennsylvania in the
first place. Bush left the miners, and in the same day went
on to raise 1 million dollars for Pennsylvania's Attorney
General, who is running for Pennsylvania governor against
Democrat Ed Rendell. By June 22nd, 2002, Bush had raised over
100 million dollars for Republican candidates according to
the Washington Post. No wonder some have taken to calling
Bush, the "fundraiser in chief." Didn't Republicans used to
call Clinton's fundraising excessive? More hypocrisy from
the Republicans. They don't care about blue collar workers,
like coal miners, only wealthy fatcats who can add to their
campaign war chests.
Bush, in no small measure, owes his presidency to coal miners.
Let me explain. In the 2000 campaign, Bush won the coal miners
vote in West Virginia by promising less environmental regulation
of coal mines. Coal miners were seemingly scared of by Gore's
'green' reputation, and handed Bush West Virginia in 2000.
This was the first time since 1928 that a Republican presidential
candidate had won the state of West Virginia. What miners
forgot is that Republicans generally like to deregulate everything,
including mine safety. Democrats must emphasize safety if
they hope to carry states like West Virginia on 2004.
This is how the Bush administration thanks the miners who
provided him with his slim electoral 'victory.' By cutting
the federal organization charged with protecting miners, and
smiling while he does it. Blue collar workers need to realize
Bush is not their friend, and send him back home to his ranch
in Crawford for a permanent vacation in 2004.