Home > Political Ranting > State of the Bush Campaign: Part I

State of the Bush Campaign: Part I

January 21st, 2004

And that’s little more than what his speech was: a campaign stump. He aimed at his base, fired heavily upon the Democrats, and as usual, misrepresented the facts in ugly ways. There is just too much here for me to cover in one post, so I will spread this over many posts–and you may get tired of this before I am through. Nevertheless, many Americans actually believe the majority of what this man says, and so it must be rebutted as often and as loudly as possible. Here are direct quotes from the speech and my own reactions to them.

As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror.

Except for the ones in Iraq–despite Bush’s claims in this speech, the fact remains that there was no terrorist connection to Iraq.

By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure.

The oppressed were never Bush’s priority. They were not the reason given before the war, but were pushed forward after the WMD and terrorist links proved false. And most of those “oppressed” are not any better off today–they just feel as if there is a different oppressor. Were there to be an international, a U.N. presence, Iraqis would feel more secure, and less oppressed. There would be more legitimacy. But Bush was far too arrogant, and never the humble leader he promised to be to get anything near the support that was needed to do the job right.

As for making America more secure, there was no threat to us from Iraq–but now that we occupy the country, thousands more join the terrorists and vow to strike against us. We are not safer today–if anything, the opposite.

Each day, law enforcement personnel and intelligence officers are tracking terrorist threats; analysts are examining airline passenger lists; the men and women of our new Homeland Security Department are patrolling our coasts and borders. And their vigilance is protecting America.

Except for the fact that Bush has failed to adequately fund security within the United States. The coasts and borders he claims are being patrolled are not being much more patrolled today than they were three years ago. Local authorities decry the lack of funds to do their jobs. Only 5% or less of cargo coming to the U.S. by land or sea is inspected. Bush is unwilling to fund the necessary measures to inspect and patrol enough to protect our borders, nor is he helping to provide any real security on our streets or in our cities. Clinton aimed to increase the police to protect the people–Bush is only interested in increasing police powers to the detriment of our freedoms.

Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.

No, it’s not. The tax relief has helped the wealthy, not the average American. Businesses see a mild recovery, in large part because the government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars more–as Lloyd Bentsen put so well in the 1988 debates, “You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you the illusion of prosperity too.”

But the false face of the “recovery” shows in jobs. Instead of producing 250,000 jobs in the last month as Bush predicted, only 1,000 jobs were forthcoming, exposing the facade of the recovery. The owners and stockholders get rich from the tax cuts and business contracts, and get more money by exporting jobs. The few jobs that have been created in the U.S. are all too often “McJobs” that pay little and have poor benefits. This is the “recovery” Bush is providing–good for the wealthy, but not for most hardworking Americans.

We have faced serious challenges together — and now we face a choice. We can go forward with confidence and resolve — or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us.

Here is the first of a long stream of sharp, hateful, partisan jabs against the Democrats. Choose me, or the Democrats will get us all killed, he is saying. Here he makes the most of the crass exaggeration and misrepresentation of the threat to us–Iraq was indeed no threat.

And at the same time, he insinuates that Democrats are weak on security. Actually, Clinton was strong against terrorism–Bush praised himself for there being no attacks on U.S. soil after two years–but Clinton managed to keep away any attacks on U.S. soil for his entire term of office after the car bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993, only a month after he took office–and he had the good grace not to plaster blame all over the prior administration–and he caught the conspirators, who are now in jail. Where is Osama now? Bush certainly has no idea.

And Clinton fought hard against terrorism while in office, stopping many terrorist attempts. He managed to pass strong anti-terrorism laws without abridging the rights and freedoms of Americans. And he left Bush Jr. with ample warnings about al Qaeda and terrorism threats in general, warnings and plans that Bush Jr. insolently disregarded and discarded. CIA chief George Tenet warned the incoming Bush administration that al Qaeda was the biggest security threat we faced–and was ignored. Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and the NSC’s counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke warned Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney about al Qaeda, and were dismissed while Bush and Cheney focused on how to funnel money to their campaign contributors by spending trillions on a missile defense system that not only promised not to work, but would be useless against terrorists. (See chapter 10 of Joe Conason’s book, Big Lies.)

Terrorism is, has always been, and always will be a threat. The fact that Bush makes frightening exhortations about it is a weakness. The threat must be calmly accepted, and if the government does its job quietly and efficiently, it is doing its best. Bush’s efforts are loud, to frighten people into supporting him, and weak, as he has turned from the security of our people to military conquest with terrorism as no more than an excuse, and allowed our real security at home to falter. The Democrats, meanwhile, have been trying to work to shore this up, but have been turned away while the GOP opens up the trough of the treasury to pork for Red States.

Inside the United States, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the PATRIOT Act, which allows federal law enforcement to better share information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells and to seize their assets.

There is a reason the words “police state” exist. Such states are incredibly secure–and very much fascist, and certainly not free. The “Patriot” Act gives far too much power to the government, and has already fallen to abuse. Give the police the tools they need, yes–but “Patriot” goes far too far, and Patriot II goes even farther.

Key provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year.

In what was an amusing and comforting turn of events, there was applause to this sentence–from the liberal side of the aisle. Easy to miss, because the Republicans applauded almost every sentence Bush spoke. You could see Bush trying to hold his temper when this happened.

Last August 11th brought the capture of the terrorist Hambali, who was a key player in the attack in Indonesia that killed over 200 people. We are tracking al-Qaida around the world — and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed.

If Bush believes that this has done anything to lessen the influence or abilities of terrorists, he is dangerously naive.

As part of the offensive against terror, we are also confronting the regimes that harbor and support terrorists, and could supply them with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. The United States and our allies are determined: We refuse to live in the shadow of this ultimate danger.

Except for the fact that we haven’t. Afghanistan was harboring terrorists, but Bush turned away from that task when Iraq came into view–and now the Taliban have retaken a foothold in Afghanistan. As for Iraq, there were no WMD, and no terrorist ties. If anything, Bush has fumbled the ball and allowed terrorism to thrive while shooting America in the foot with the Iraq war. And yet still, here, Bush makes the patently false claim that Iraq was a threat to us due to both WMD and terrorism.

Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein — and the people of Iraq are free.

Beg pardon? The “demands of the United Nations”? Is he joking? And note that he mentions the few countries that actually have provided troops support–albeit the U.S. and Great Britain were the only real participants.

These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a serious, continuing danger. Yet we are making progress against them.

Not really. Yes, we got Saddam–but attacks continue with the same frequency as before. Recently the 500th U.S. soldier was killed, and almost 600 coalition and diplomatic deaths have been recorded. December had more deaths per day than any other month since April, and January is so far as deadly a month as many before.

The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right. Last January, Iraq’s only law was the whim of one brutal man.

And now it is the whim of another brutal man, the one speaking to us. America wants to do right, but in order to do right, Americans must have the truth–something Bush has tried hard to obfuscate. 70% of Americans believed Saddam was behind 9/11 because of Bush and Cheney’s lies. Garbage in, garbage out–Bush has led the American people to do wrong because he has led them falsely.

Today our coalition is working with the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law, with a bill of rights. We are working with Iraqis and the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty by the end of June. As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear.

Except that Bush wants no Democracy in Iraq: 60% are Shi’ites, and a true Democracy would lead to an Islamic state, which Bush wants to avoid at all costs. A puppet government is being drafted, and yet still, even the moderates want to go to less free ways, including a return to Islamic laws that would strip Iraq’s women of most of their rights and liberties. And more on the “coalition” later.

More to come soon. But one last thought: Bush & Co. always try to push the idea, “everything is OK now, so we’re the ones to vote for.” Despite the ongoing violence and instability, the Bush administration tries to act as if everything is now under control in Iraq. Even if it were, it would not change the fact that going there in the first place was a bad choice. “We have international support,” Bush says–and even if that were really true in the sense that matters, it would not change the fact that Bush did an atrocious job of diplomacy, turning worldwide sympathy after 9/11 into worldwide animosity less than two years later. If Iraq had really been necessary, Bush could have brought the world in with us, paying most of the bill (as it did in the Gulf War), taking on heavy military responsibilities (as it did in the Gulf War), and adding legitimacy to the takeover of Iraq (which we lack now and are suffering for it). It is not good enough that we invaded Iraq and have Saddam–the fact that it was done so badly on the political end, costing us so much in blood and money, has forced us back into deficits, has enraged the world and turned so many against us, and has empowered the terrorists–that shows a lack of skill on the part of the president.

My point is that Bush is incompetent as a president, and even if things turned out a tenth as rosily as he claims, would we still want a bungling clown to run things for us? Despite high-powered help, he has demonstrated that he cannot eat pretzels without choking. We need someone who does the right things, and a person who is able to do them without being an inept fool.

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