It’s bad enough that the country is in the hands of a president who is incompetent, out of touch and intellectually shallow, a man whose sound bytes have about as much substance as children’s nonsense rhymes.
But as he gives speech after speech before friendly audiences it is disturbing to realize just how silly this man really is. Imagine a president who feels the need to court applause lines at The Heritage Foundation by slamming Move-On.Org and Code Pink protesters. A person of stature would never stoop to such juvenile remarks and those applauding with such fervor must have a high tolerance level for inane, political clap-trap.
It is hard to believe that a grown man, let alone a president, would actually take the time to bad-mouth groups that express points of view with which he disagrees. What a pedestrian use of the “bully pulpit”. In fact protesters find this administration’s witless approach to the affairs of state on a dangerous adventure that puts the nation at risk. By making them the focus of his angst Mr. Bush removes the spotlight from his disastrous policies – – poking fun at dissenters takes the place of serious discussion. But the base loves it requiring as it does no thoughtful analysis.
And when in the course of these self-serving addresses to Republican supporters Mr. Bush criticizes Congress for doing too much investigating instead of passing his bloated budgets unquestioningly, as was done when his party controlled both houses, his righteous indignation is as inappropriate as his signing statements that thwart the will of Congress. Consider for a moment the hyperbolic invective hurled at Democrats for wanting to rein in war expenses and accusations by right-wing critics that extraneous spending initiatives are often snuggled into omnibus bills by Dems. Yet in his most recent supplemental request for war-time spending the president has included over $500,000 to help Mexico with its war on drugs.
How exactly did that particular earmark find its way into a war supplemental bill? Well apparently Blackwater Security forces are about to ink a lucrative contract with Mexico for drug interventions on the US/Mexican border, and obviously the company enjoys a warm relationship with the Bush administration, having garnered numerous no-bid, no-accountability contracts in Iraq and even domestically – – anyone connecting the dots yet?
In an article adapted from his book Blackwater:The Rise of the World’s most Powerful Mercenary Army in The Nation, Jeremy Scahill notes a high-level, “secret” meeting that took place with Blackwater exec Erik Prince and “key Republican senators” – – Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Ted Stevens of Alaska, George Allen of Virginia and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner. As Scahill points out Blackwater often cites Rumsfeld’s statement “…that contractors are part of the “Total Force” as evidence that it is a legitimate part of the nation’s “warfighting capability and capacity.” Uh, weren’t we told that Blackwater’s mission was to guard VIPs and building contractors not engage in military skirmishes? A lot of the bad actors who attended that meeting with Prince are gone, but the company is still expanding its influence and flexing its lobbying muscles in Congress. Who ever thought this country would embrace an adjunct military force so reminiscent of repressive regimes?
Whether there is a direct connection to Blackwater-Mexico or not, Congress should insist that the war spending bill is absolutely pristine. Any un-related items should be stripped from it. This is a simple issue and Congress should make it absolutely clear that add-ons in the supplemental will not be funded – – the president might find it hard to justify requests for funds that fall outside the stated purpose of a “war” supplemental.
Of course, according to the president he is making a principled stand when he vetoes the SCHIP bill because it is too expensive, but what exactly is the principle involved except the notion that private insurance companies are a bedrock American value. One can’t help wondering how “too expensive” only applies to children’s health care but not the mounting cost of our foreign involvements. And the usual strident voices can be heard ranting about how inefficient government programs are as well as the looming threat of socialized medicine if more children are enrolled in SCHIP instead of private plans. But Medicare and Social Security happen to be two of the smoothest-running programs around, attentive to needs and quick to reimburse; you can even get a real person on the phone. What’s not to like about those federal programs?
Hopefully the American people won’t be snookered once again by an administration that feeds on its own spin about everything from the war to health care to climate change. It’s a shame there are still so many months to endure before some change can be effected. But at least we can keep writing and calling our congressional representatives to let them know we will support them if they take a firm stand on the issues of greatest concern to ordinary Americans. The president may be an embarrassment and a bad excuse for a chief executive, but no matter how silly he appears at times, he is nevertheless dangerous and needs careful watching.

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