Saturday, October 30, 2004
No one may ever know what happened to the 377 tons of explosives stored by Saddam Hussein's regime at the Al Qaqaa complex south of Baghdad. But John Kerry's campaign is right to criticize the Bush administration's failure to have a plan to destroy this cache of weapons that could be used by terrorists.
Meanwhile, the most troubling aspect of the videotape of Osama bin Laden released yesterday is not the content but the fact that bin Laden is alive and well enough to deliver his hateful message.
The two stories undercut Bush's central campaign assertion - that he is a successful war president, whether in Iraq or against Al Qaeda.
The administration thought the Iraq war would end when Saddam was ousted in April 2003. It lacked a plan to seize and destroy the arms that were scattered about the country and otherwise preempt an insurgency that is still killing Americans and destabilizing Iraqi society. Bush makes much of his determination to fight terrorists, but determination without a thoughtful plan is just stubbornness.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Some days it's hard to imagine how the news from Iraq can get any worse, although it has a way of doing just that with unsettling regularity.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that U.S. forces failed to secure 380 tons of high explosives that may have been looted by insurgents. The types of explosives are so potent they can be used to detonate nuclear weapons and have been linked to large-scale terrorist attacks.
Two days earlier came news of the massacre of 49 unarmed Iraqi soldiers who had just finished basic training. The killings gave credence to an Iraqi security official's estimation that insurgents have infiltrated up to 5 percent of the country's security forces, and prompted Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to blame the U.S.-led coalition for "great negligence" in failing to protect the recruits. Meanwhile, a militant group called Army of Ansar el-Sunna posted photos on a Web site showing 11 captured Iraqi guardsmen.
All of this undermines President Bush's blithe insistence that Iraqi soldiers and police officers are gaining strength and will soon be able to assume security duties from U.S. forces. With large sections of the country under control of insurgents, it's hard to imagine how the Iraqi government and coalition forces can provide the stability and security essential for successful elections that the United States has pledged will take place by the end of January - just three months away.
Against this backdrop of unrelentingly grim news, both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney continue to insist that freedom is on the march in Iraq. On the campaign trail in Ohio on Monday, Cheney declared Iraq to be "a remarkable success story" for which the president "deserves great credit."
Obviously, Bush and Vice President Dick are no longer capable of telling the truth about anything at all. It's like some bizarre form of dementia.
Whatever he is, or isn’t, John Kerry is not mad, and I am no longer certain that the President isn’t. Last week I referred to Mr. Bush as "George of Arc," and I believe the comparison with the voices-driven warrior maid of Domremy holds. As my Cambridge Biographical Dictionary puts it: "Belief in her divine mission made her flout military advice — in the end disastrously." As the news from Iraq has steadily worsened, the President seems to be increasingly faith-driven, relying on inner voices to drown out dissent or any suggestion that Iraq is a mistake — actually, Iraq is what you get when you hire a management consulting firm, a McKinsey, say, or an Accenture, to design you a war — and to reassure him that he’s done and is doing the right thing.
In a word, I think the President may be unbalanced; he may be playing with considerably fewer than the 52 cards we expect to find when we fan out the Presidential deck. Through all three debates, I kept trying to put my finger on what it was about the President’s tics and twitches that bothered me. "Trying to put my finger on" — oh, cut the crap! I was simply rejecting what my eyes and ears were telling me: This guy is f——— nuts!
Welcome to Realityville. We are indeed being led by an unelected president who shows signs of being mentally unbalanced. And the cult roars "Four more years!"
The Bush team has a — what's the right word? — truly Orwellian talent for saying and doing ghastly things and then turning right around and claiming that it's really John Kerry who's guilty of saying and doing those same ghastly things. A few examples:
* Run the biggest deficit in modern history and then complain that Kerry has a "tax gap".
* Have Dick Cheney do everything but tell voters that they'll be forcibly converted to Islam unless they vote for Bush, and then castigate Kerry for "scare mongering."
* Get your surrogates to explain on national TV that the al-Qaqaa fiasco was actually the fault of troops on the ground, not the president, and then get out on the stump and claim that Kerry is the one "denigrating the action of our troops in the field".
* Gain fame even among your own supporters for relentlessly putting ideology and partisanship ahead of facts on the ground, and then give a speech charging that Kerry puts "politics ahead of facts."
You almost have to admire the chutzpah behind this campaign strategy, don't you? Almost.
Liberals, normally gentle as little kittens - usually you can go right up to 'em and touch their soft, curly fur, they don't mind a bit - are in an alarming state of righteous anger. This time, they devoutly believe, jackbooted fascism is just around the corner. Not only do they think the Bill of Rights is being quietly dismantled, they are sentient enough to notice that our reputation around the world has gone from the instant support of Sept. 11 to disgust and fear.
Meanwhile, many evangelical Christians are convinced gay marriage is upon us and will be the end of civilization. How they convinced themselves George W. Bush is the Lord's anointed is beyond me. I've known him since high school and watched him closely as a public official for 10 years, and I have yet to see the first sign of it.
That belief is just as hard to dislodge as their touching faith that we found WMD in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein was connected to Al Qaeda. They believe both these things because the administration keeps claiming they are true. As far as I know, the only time Bush has directly claimed that God speaks through him was this summer before the Amish leaders. That startled everyone who thought God knew how to pronounce the word nuclear.
As someone for whom faith is incredibly important, and who regularly prays for all the people and things that matter to me, I'm hopeful that God is as appalled as I am with the way His name is constantly being taken in vain on the Bush campaign trail, and with how the president is abusing his faith to justify to himself and to the world his disastrous policies.
Lord knows there's a very long list of things to be angry with Bush about, but this one has moved to the top of my personal hit parade because, as Catholic theologians teach us, "The corruption of the best is the worst." And George W. is truly corrupting faith and dragging it into the political gutter. In two fundamental ways:
First, he's using it as a spiritual inoculation against uncertainty and complexity.
Nowhere is this blending of church and campaign more evident than in George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, a DVD being distributed to tens of thousands of America's churches.
Although not officially the work of the Bush-Cheney campaign, it obviously has its approval, and indeed was screened at a party for Christian conservatives hosted by the campaign at the GOP convention in New York.
In the documentary, President Bush is presented as a man with "the moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet" - and is shown sharing a beatific split screen with the Son of God himself.
That is a truly sickening image. I wonder how Bush plans to explain all this when he finally arrives at the gates of Hell. Do you think he has an exit strategy?
Why don't more people see what I see: that Bush's presidency has been a failed presidency, that he has taken big gambles and those gambles have failed. Shouldn't there be an element of accountability? Isn't that what this election should be about?
Bush hasn't been conservative; he has been radical, self-righteous and too easily manipulated by simple-sounding but impractical ideas. To name just a few:
Fighting a preventive war. That is, invading another country with little or no support from most allies and against much of world opinion without any evidence of an imminent danger to our security, or, for that matter, taking the steps to make sure the outcome would be successful.
Or: Cutting taxes across the board, especially for the wealthy, while fighting a war.
Or: Saying part of Social Security can be privatized without any idea of how it will sabotage the program or how much a transition to a new one would cost.
Has Kerry been that poor a campaigner that he has failed to provide a reliable alternative to Bush? Has the public been so easily convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong with Kerry that the nation shouldn't take a chance on him, although Bush has failed in so many areas? Is that tough-guy-from-Texas act really so believable?
They will be writing books a thousand years from now trying to explain why so many Ancient Americans of the early 21st century supported a "leader" who endangered their nation, polluted their air and water, and bankrupted their Treasury, while lying bald-facedly to the citizens all the while.
The media's penchant for strongly favoring George W. Bush in its reporting – or to portray Bush's lies as "dueling data," as NBC's Norah O'Donnell put it (6/14/04) – is not limited to reporting on employment.
The central problem, as Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) noted in a May 20 report titled, Campaign Double Standards, is that journalists do not hold Bush to the same standards that they require of Kerry.
"While the press corps applies microscopic scrutiny to Kerry's statements, looking for evidence of misstatements or 'flip-flops,' Bush gets little criticism for making false assertions," the report notes. Bush falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein would not allow weapons inspectors into Iraq when, in fact, he did and they remained there until the war was imminent.
"Few reporters ever mentioned this substantive falsehood … most major news sources chose not to bring up Bush's false statement – the New York Times was silent on the issue, as were the nightly newscasts of ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS."
The report continues, "Bush's record is full of similar untrue statements. His claim that Enron's Ken Lay supported Bush's opponent in his 1994 gubernatorial race, when Lay actually contributed three times as much to Bush (ABC World News Tonight, 1/10/02); his insistence that the White House was not responsible for the 'Mission Accomplished' banner on the U.S.S. Lincoln (New York Times, 10/29/03); his statement in 2002 the economy 'was pulling out of a recession that began before I took office' (when it actually started in March 2001 – Slate, 12/30/02); his assertion in a 2000 debate that in his tax cut plan, "by far the vast majority of the help goes to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder," when the bottom 50 percent really got roughly 10 percent of the benefits (Extra! 1/2/01); his boast that 'I've been to war' (Associated Press, 1/27/02) – to list just a few."
By now, Bush has figured out that he can lie to the American people anytime he wants to – and most of the time, the news media will not call him on it.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
The US leader has been awarded the title for his part in Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
Bush's presidential rival John Kerry was not in the shortlist, but Bush has managed to beat four other contenders to the movie title, including evil atomic scientist Doctor Octopus.
"He was absolutely terrifying in that film. He looked like a man who had lost control - the famous scene where he sits there in a school, absolutely paralysed, after being told about the twin towers, is just one example.
"Fahrenheit 9/11 was a huge box office hit. Lots of people saw it and movie-goers are saying that there's no one like George Bush to strike fear into people's hearts."
I confess: I find it increasingly difficult to be civil about this. I certainly can argue politely and passionately with conservatives about welfare reform, school choice, faith-based initiatives, tax cuts, antiballistic missile defense. I can see how people of good faith might disagree in good faith over these contentious issues. But I am losing my patience with anyone who refuses to acknowledge that Raheen Heighter, Irving Medina and many others died under George Bush’s false pretenses. And given that the war in Iraq was indeed an elective war, I want to grab advocates of the war by the lapel and say, “Unless you’re willing to put your butt —o r that of a precious son or daughter — in an unreinforced Humvee in Iraq, why should anyone die for your and Bush’s assertion that the war in Iraq is essential for America’s safety?”
What compounds the ill will I feel for Bush and the war-backers is the manner in which Bush discusses the war while campaigning. Rather than strive for a high-minded and somber debate about the most critical issue of the campaign, he has resorted to cheap shots and derision. He blasts Kerry for advocating “pessimism and retreat” and for considering terrorism a “nuisance,” when Kerry merely said is that it would be desirable to reach a day when terrorism is nothing more than a “nuisance.” (That sounds like a decent goal, particularly when Bush says, "Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is—you know—is up in the air.”) Bush claims Kerry would submit U.S. national security decisions to other nations for a veto. At a campaign rally on Monday, he declared that Kerry “Believes that instead of leading with confidence, America must submit to what he calls a global test. I'm not making that up… That means our country must get permission from foreign capitals before we act in our own self-defense.” That is not what Kerry has said. He has explicitly stated he would not allow other governments to block actions he deemed necessary. But he did say that if a U.S. president orders an pre-emptive strike, he ought to do so for a reason that is compelling enough to convince the American public and people abroad. Bush responds to that with mockery based on a falsehood.
Bush has belittled any discussion of the war that is not black and white. For example, he attacked Kerry foreign policy adviser Richard Holbrooke, a former UN ambassador, for saying "We're not in a war on terror in a literal sense" and for calling the so-called war on terrorism a "metaphor" like the war on poverty. "Confusing food programs with terrorist killings reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the war we face," Bush exclaimed, "And that is very dangerous thinking." This is not serious debate about a serious matter: the war in Iraq and the best way to counter the threat of Islamic jihadism. This is a shallow-minded Bush putting politics over all else. Accusing Holbrooke of not knowing the difference between “food programs” and “terrorist killings” — there is a word for that: stupid.
You forgot "evil".
That's what he said during his disastrous first debate with Sen. John Kerry. You hear his supporters repeating the formula every day. For some, it's like this: Arabs killed Americans, so fighting terror means killing Arabs.
Unfortunately, like much of his scripted, action/adventure film dialogue, Bush's false dualism has prevented people from grasping the nature of the terrorist enemy, the vastness of the Arab world and the limits of American power.
The obvious problem, as Kerry reminded Bush, is that Iraq didn't attack the United States, Al Qaeda did. Maybe some insurgents attacking American targets in Iraq are allied with Osama bin Laden, maybe not. It's almost beside the point. Many didn't exist until the United States took down Saddam Hussein, a glorified mob boss who tolerated no dissent. Now there are so many guerrilla groups that U.S. military planners can't keep them straight.
"Shock and awe," they called it, like a rock band on tour. Intent to prove their theories, White House and Pentagon philosophers of empire, most of whom had never been to war, ignored repeated warnings that 130,000 U.S. soldiers, most of them support troops, couldn't possibly bring order to a nation as big as California.
Recent press accounts of Bush administration "planning" sessions on Iraq read like "Catch-22." Knight-Ridder's Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott write of a meeting between war planners and intelligence officials at a South Carolina air base days before the invasion. The Army lieutenant colonel giving the briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plan for rebuilding Iraq after the war. "To be provided," it read.
And we're still waiting.
Not since Richard Nixon skulked through the White House has this nation been faced with a presidency as dangerous, as secretive, and as malevolent as that of George W. Bush. The Phoenix is proud to endorse John Kerry, a man of strong leadership qualities, sound judgment, and compassionate leanings. Senator Kerry would be a worthy choice regardless of his opponent. But because his opponent is Bush, Kerry’s election is a necessity.
Barely a year and a half after Bush strutted beneath that MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, the war in Iraq has degenerated into what may prove to be an even worse foreign-policy blunder than Vietnam. The American public, still recovering from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, was only too willing to believe the president when he said that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had provided a safe haven to Al Qaeda. But as we all know now, it just wasn’t true. Bush launched this war on the basis of exaggerated intelligence, dubious claims, and, in a few cases, outright lies. The blood of the more than 1100 American soldiers who have died in Iraq is on his hands, as is that of the thousands more who have been seriously injured and the countless thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been killed. And no matter what Bush would have us believe, the mess he has created has left us in more danger today than before he launched this unjustified, pre-emptive war.
But the bill of particulars against Bush is far longer than that. His unprecedented wartime tax cuts, skewed heavily toward the wealthiest Americans, have helped transform the projected 10-year, $5.6 trillion surplus that he inherited from Bill Clinton into annual deficits of some $400 billion — and growing. On the environment, he has turned his back on concerns ranging from global warming to mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. He has imposed his own religious views on the rest of us by — among other things — refusing to allow stem-cell research to move forward as quickly as it should. He has unleashed his freedom-loathing attorney general, John Ashcroft, to spy on Americans under the guise of keeping us safe from terrorists, and he has moved much of the government out of public view by undermining the Freedom of Information Act and by placing presidential records out of reach.
Of course, Bush also is anti-choice, opposes civil rights for lesbians and gay men, supports the death penalty, and is indifferent even to the most common-sense gun-control measures, such as the assault-weapons ban, which he nominally supported but did nothing to keep from expiring. And as Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s recently diagnosed thyroid cancer reminds us, the next president will likely have an opportunity to name several justices to the Supreme Court. If the next president is Bush, he’ll be able to use the court to advance his agenda — including further blurring the separation between church and state, and possibly overturning Roe v. Wade — for generations to come. Let’s not forget that Bush has referred to archconservative justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as his models.
There seem to be two kinds of newspaper endorsements this year: straightforward Kerry endorsements like this one, and the other kind, which say all the same things but end up endorsing Bush.
Eight protesters, yelling “Bush must go,” were handcuffed and escorted away as President Bush was speaking at Lancaster Airport this morning.
The president didn’t seem to notice the protesters, who were behind the press area, about 150 feet from the podium.
The protesters included members of the “Smoketown Six,” who had been surrounded by about 10 state troopers after being recognized by people in the crowd just as the president began his speech. As the eight began yelling “Bush must go," they were immediately taken away. People in the crowd booed.
One Bush supporter yelled, “It’s people like you that get soldiers like me killed.”
Earlier this morning, Vern Bridgman, 40, of Manheim Township, stood at the corner of Airport Road and Lititz Pike wearing a sweatshirt that read, “Bush Lies, Thousand died, ImpeachBush.org.” He said he was planning to stay there until he was forced to leave or was arrested.
“It’s still a free country, at least for now,” he said.
[Katherine] Shea, 22, of Lancaster, said she wouldn’t call herself or the others protesting today "activists."
“We’re citizens standing up for basic principles,” she said. “I believe the Bush administration has — and I think this is true for a lot of people — taken things too far. They’ve lied to the American public, taken things way over the line, and that’s compelled a lot of people to speak up.”
I'm interested in the fellow who shouted that protesters "get soldiers like me killed". Um, what exactly are the soldiers fighting for over there if not to defend the right of Americans to dissent? It's called freedom. Look into it.
Even in Europe, there is no escaping it. The United States presidential campaign is everywhere. Every tiny change in the polls wins a spot on the evening news and not a day goes by without coverage of the campaign. Academics regularly bash heads over the latest campaign intrigue and a flood of titles critical of Bush and the Iraq war dominate display tables in German bookstores. They are selling briskly.
One trend is clear: Europeans hate President George W. Bush. Moreover, they are appalled that a man many here see as responsible for much of the evil in the world has a good chance of being re-elected to the world's most powerful post next week. Most of all, however, Europeans are frustrated that, no matter how loudly they may groan, they can have no real influence on the outcome on Nov. 2.
"For the populace," the prominent German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote of the election, "there is no topic that is more exciting, infuriating, and more personally relevant - but at the same time, they are convinced of the futility and uselessness of this agitation and they are waiting for results like a lamb going to the slaughterhouse."
The feeling in Europe is almost unanimous. In a September survey by the US-based Program on International Policy Attitudes, challenger John Kerry was the clear first choice in almost every European country. Seventy-four percent of Germans prefer him compared to just 10 percent for Bush. In France it was 64 to 5 percent. Holland: 63 to 6. And in Britain, Washington's closest ally in the war in Iraq, support for Bush's election is a mere 16 percent compared to 47 for Kerry. Only in Poland, likewise fighting in Iraq, did people support Bush - by a margin of 31 percent to 26 percent.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation’s children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal—Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can’t be found to do it—and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.
Bush has [made America disliked and distrusted throughout the world] by giving the U.S. a novel foreign-policy doctrine under which it arrogates to itself the right to invade any country it wants if it feels threatened. It is an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine, but the latter was at least confined to Eastern Europe. If the analogy seems extreme, what is an appropriate comparison when a country manufactures falsehoods about a foreign government, disseminates them widely, and invades the country on the basis of those falsehoods? It is not an action that any American president has ever taken before. It is not something that “good” countries do. It is the main reason that people all over the world who used to consider the United States a reliable and necessary bulwark of world stability now see us as a menace to their own peace and security.
George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky’s concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies—temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election—are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans “won’t do.” This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.
[The American Conservative, 11/8/04 issue]
Monday, October 25, 2004
In early 2002, Nebraska’s education policy makers got a collective headache called No Child Left Behind.
The federal education reform was the most comprehensive, complicated and controversial federal foray into public education in recent history, and it did not receive a warm welcome by many in the Cornhusker state.
“It is less about educating children than it is about politics,” said Marilyn Peterson, administrator of federal programs at the Nebraska Department of Education.
The law’s supporters see it as an unprecedented federal effort to incorporate accountability into public education. To its critics, including many who determine Nebraska’s education policy, it is an under-funded attempt to nationally standardize an issue for which challenges vary by locality, and solutions lay in local expertise and judgment.
She said that in the short term, the roughly $3 million in additional federal funds allotted to LPS falls short of the cost of developing and scoring assessments. She said this shortfall pales in comparison to the long term funds necessary to ensure every student in the country reaches the target of proficiency by school year 2013-14.
“One of the studies I read said that we would need to spend an additional $87 billion in the United States in order to reach that target,” Moore said, “which interestingly enough was the amount of the first allocation for the war in Iraq.”
Well, let's keep things in perspective. Obviously, killing Iraqi civilians is more important than educating American children. If you're a Bush supporter.
To appreciate how deep the skepticism of the scientific community is toward the current administration, one only need look at the world's two most prestigious science journals, Nature, an English peer-review journal, and Science, the American equivalent. With regard to the Bush administration, both these journals have repeatedly expressed concern over its political influence on science.
During the 2000 election, both journals seemed optimistic about the commitment to science from George Bush. There was some concern regarding Mr. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney's fossil-fuel-business pasts, but overall this team was expected to promote science through investment and recruitment, both domestic and foreign, like any other. In fact, the first half of the Bush administration was relatively well received. Despite the typical cautions and concerns for any new administration, neither journal feared science would be compromised.
But near the end of 2002 that all changed. Scathing headlines summarized a growing frustration within the scientific community, particularly on how science was received and reported. Editorials accused the administration of not only ignoring dissenting opinion, but also refusing to hear it in the first place.
Furthermore, the journals claim the administration tends to distort scientific evidence or rig advisory panels for political purposes. Advisory committees have been stacked with individuals too often in complete agreement with the administration. Politics also determined what science would be publicized. Sometimes the argument was not whether scientists were censored but rather how often.
This last point was summed up by Science the following way: "A government position is taken on a matter of scientific importance and scientific justifications for those policies are offered; the scientific rationale is then abandoned or changed, but the policies based on that science remain."
This is just another aspect of the pervasive tendency of Bush and his cult-like supporters to simply ignore facts that don't coincide with their preconceived notions. Is this any way to run a country?
Sunday, October 24, 2004
But Mr. Bush need not worry that serious scrutiny will be applied to his speeches or utterances. On Oct. 18, in what was dubiously billed by the White House as a "major foreign-policy address," he said things about his opponent which might more aptly be described by terms like "shameless" and even "McCarthyite." His "major speech" was nothing more than the same old catalog of misleading charges and plain falsehoods that Republicans have been repeating with increasing shrillness since their national convention.
"Senator Kerry has a record of trying to weaken American intelligence," said the President, as if the Democrat has spent his career trying to undermine American national security. He cited cuts in funding for intelligence agencies, without mentioning that his own new C.I.A. director, Porter Goss, had voted for bigger cuts as a member of Congress.
"Senator Kerry's approach would permit a response only after America is hit," said the President, as if Mr. Kerry had not vowed repeatedly to hunt down the terrorists who continue to threaten us.
"Senator Kerry believes that fighting Zarqawi and other terrorists in Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror," said the President, as if his opponent had not repeatedly - and at some political cost - made plain his commitment to a stable Iraqi government.
And he repeated the canard from the first debate about the "global test" that would influence Mr. Kerry's security policy. "As far as I can tell, it comes down to this: Before we act to defend ourselves, he thinks we need permission from foreign capitals," said the President. That is false, and Mr. Bush knows it. Yet he can say such things with impunity because he also knows that they won't excite the kind of outrage they deserve.
It isn't surprising that the President and his surrogates would try to deflect attention from his record with strained and misleading rhetoric. It certainly isn't surprising that they would try to distract the voters and the press with a bogus "issue" like the "lesbian" flap. It is disappointing that they can engage in such obvious manipulations and distortions with the smug expectation of easy success.
President Bush's clumsy use of symbolism is legendary - think of the "Mission Accomplished" macho flyboy scene - but his re-election campaign has outdone itself with a new ad featuring wolves that would be laughable but for the truth it unwittingly reveals.
In a case of ironic timing by the obviously clueless campaign, the ad was released during Wolf Awareness Week, a nationwide annual event that originated in Wisconsin. Wolf Awareness Week is devoted to dispelling "Little Red Riding Hood" myths about timber wolves and stressing the animals' value to America's wildlife community. So it's nothing short of absurd that the president is airing an attack ad against John Kerry that uses wolves to symbolize the menace of terrorists.
We hardly need to point out the fallacy of implying that wolves are a threat to humans, but the Bush campaign ad's predator/prey imagery reveals a much greater irony than the president's lack of knowledge about wolf ecology.
The ad depicts the United States as weak and vulnerable and continues Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's desperate and tiresome tactic of trying to scare voters into supporting them by using dark projections about how a Kerry presidency would threaten U.S. security.
Yet, if this country does resemble trembling, helpless prey, it's Bush's own actions - his inept homeland security measures and unwarranted Iraq war - that have put us in such a state of vulnerability.
Talk about crying "wolf".