The Bush Assault on Social Security

In one of the continuing ironies of the Bush administration, the Pentagon is reportedly "engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad," according to a recent story in the New York Times. Meanwhile the administration apparently has no qualms about manipulating information to influence opinion at home, particularly with regard to its proposals to undermine one of the most successful and well regarded products of progressive government in the US: Social Security.

The Story of the Morals

Karl Rove wants you to believe that the 2004 presidential election was decided based on 'moral values.' In an interview with the New York Times on November 10, Rove identified gay marriage as an issue that had proved more important than many politicians suspected. Support for constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage between individuals of the same sex was "part and parcel of a broader fabric where this year moral values ranked higher than they traditionally do," Rove said, adding: "I think people would be well advised to pay attention to what the American people are saying." Rove's assertion seemed to be supported by exit polls, which showed that 80 percent of those who indicated 'moral values' was their greatest concern voted for Bush.

Out on Deranged

"I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do," former Reagan and Bush official Bruce Bartlett told reporter Ron Suskind. Suskind's 8,500-word article on Bush's faith-based approach to government appeared in the October 17 New York Times. Based on interviews with members of Congress, government officials, and others who had met with Bush during his first term, the article aroused the administration's ire by revealing that Bush had bragged to wealthy supporters in a closed meeting that he would announce plans to "privatize" Social Security soon after his re-election.

But to many readers of Suskind's article, the overall portrait of Bush as someone who makes decisions of national and global import based on little more than his personal hunches and whims, while believing that he is a divine agent, is at least as alarming as the revelation of likely policy choices in another Bush administration.

Can Misstatements Cover Up Mismanagement?

In his radio address of September 25th Bush reiterated the rosy assessment of the situation in Iraq that he and interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi had been proclaiming for the previous week as the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq moved to the center of the US presidential campaign. "The enemies of freedom are using suicide bombings, beheadings and other horrific acts to try to block progress," Bush said. "We are sickened by their atrocities, but we will never be intimidated, and freedom is winning." "We're making steady progress."

It Has Happened Here

...something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
-- Ballad of a Thin Man, Bob Dylan, © 1965

Since the Republican National Convention two themes have appeared repeatedly on editorial pages of newspapers and web sites. The first is a rhetorical question whether facts matter at all any more in American electoral politics. The second asserts that this election may well be a referendum on democracy as we know it. What is perhaps more unfortunate than the intentional misrepresentations by the Bush-Cheney campaign, and the lust for power that motivates them, is the apparent obliviousness of the American electorate, which, if recent polls are to be believed, now favor the misleader-in-chief by a statistically significant margin.

Eisenhower's 1956 message lost on today's misguided GOP

Bill Gallagher
Reprinted with permission from the Niagara Falls Reporter.

John Kerry and the Democrats are off to a good start and their convention provided some fine speeches and messages that should resonate with the American people. But the most intriguing and perhaps best speech I heard last week came from a Republican, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"We weren't doing anything wrong"

by Tara Tuckwiller
Reprinted with permission from the Charleston Gazette

A husband and wife who wore anti-Bush T-shirts to the president’s Fourth of July appearance aren’t going down without a fight: They will be represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union as they contest the trespassing charges against them Thursday morning in Charleston Municipal Court.

Police took Nicole and Jeff Rank away in handcuffs from the event, which was billed as a presidential appearance, not a campaign rally. They were wearing T-shirts that read, "Love America, Hate Bush."

Spectators who wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were allowed to stay.

Betrayal of Trust: The Central Issue

Speaking to USA Today's Susan Page in mid-May, Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center observed, "All presidential elections are first and foremost referendums on the times and the president's job performance." Bush strategists would like it to be otherwise, but since 1948 the four presidents who won second terms had approval ratings of 52% or better in the Gallup poll taken during May of the election year. The three who lost had approval ratings of 47% or lower. Bush's approval rating in the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken May 7-9 was 46%.

"You've got to wait a few weeks to see whether it's stuck there or it's based on this horrible news, the pictures from Iraq," Charles Black, a strategist with ties to Bush's campaign told USA Today. The Bush campaign outlined steps it planned to improve their candidate's standing.

Bush-Kerry: Meaning the Same Thing?

Sam Parry
Reprinted from ConsortiumNews.com with permission.

It has become a staple of the national press corps’ "conventional wisdom" that George W. Bush and John Kerry really aren’t very different on many issues, if one looks past the rhetorical tone to their actual policies. But this supposedly tough-minded analysis may be just one more example of the news media’s sophomoric political thinking.

The core fallacy of this "tweedle-dee-tweedle-dum" analysis is the assumption that Bush actually means what he says, when his record is that he often says what is convenient to the moment or what may stir up Americans but turns out to be untrue. Indeed, if there’s one lesson the news media should have learned in the past three years, it’s that Bush isn’t the "straight-shooter" he pretends to be.

On both little and big issues, from his petty shifting of blame for the "Mission Accomplished" banner to his momentous false claims about weapons of mass destruction, Bush has demonstrated that his comments can’t be taken at face value. So, it makes little sense for national pundits to compare the words of Kerry and Bush as a meaningful measure of how similar their policies are.

Republicans (and Others) for Kerry

Updated Sun, 12/20/2015

Tucked halfway down the first page of a May 25 article in the Washington Post titled "Bush Poll Numbers On Iraq at New Low" was a statistic that to some observers was more interesting than the headline. Between April and May, Bush's approval rating among Republicans declined almost 7%. Republicans still overwhelmingly support Bush, according to the Post (82%), but in a close race, defections among Republicans could be a significant factor.


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