But first . . .
GLOBAL TEST (In Case It Comes Up Tonight)
John Seiffer: ‘If John Kerry had said ‘smell test’ not ‘global test’ perhaps the media would have continued listening and heard his explanation that the test occurs AFTER you’ve taken action, not as a prerequisite for it. That passing the test means, and I quote, ‘your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you DID it for legitimate reasons.’ Emphasis on DID is mine.’
And now . . .
THE COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE
‘My opponent is a Massachusetts liberal,’ President Bush has taken to saying at rallies. ‘I am a compassionate conservative.’
I don’t think it’s conservative to go to war when you don’t have to or to borrow half a trillion dollars a year from your children.
I don’t think it’s compassionate to cut children’s health care – and I don’t think it was compassionate of President Bush to execute Karla Faye Tucker.
Do you remember that case? Karla Faye Tucker committed a terrible crime when she was young; but in prison she became a loving, caring woman, a born again Christian. A number of groups and individuals – including the Pope – pleaded with then Governor Bush to spare her life – to keep her locked up forever, but not kill her, the first woman to be executed in Texas in more than a century.
People can legitimately disagree on this and do. But was Bush’s choice compassionate? Was it the choice his favorite philosopher would have made?
Tucker Carlson, the ‘right’ wing of CNN’s Crossfire, profiled then-governor Bush for the premier issue of the now-defunct Talk magazine. He reported:
In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker’s] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. “Did you meet with any of them?” I ask.
Bush whips around and stares at me. “No, I didn’t meet with any of them,” he snaps, as though I’ve just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. “I didn’t meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like ‘What would you say to Governor Bush?'”
“What was her answer?” I wonder.
“Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.”
‘When I read that,’ writes one well-known conservative, ‘I thought, ‘Please don’t let this man get close to any position of power – ever.”
‘I think it is nothing short of unbelievable,’ Gary Bauer, was quoted at the time, ‘that the governor of a major state running for president thought it was acceptable to mock a woman he decided to put to death.’
It’s not inconsistent with the memories of that Harvard Business School Professor people have been quoting. From Salon:
“He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him.” When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, “Oh, I never said that.’
. . . Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said. “In class, he couldn’t challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that’s how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy.”
. . . I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class,” Tsurumi said. “Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, ‘George, what did you do with the draft?’ He said, ‘Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.’ And I said, ‘Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How’d you get in?’ When he told me, he didn’t seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war.”
Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite. “He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off.”
Tsurumi’s conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. “He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion,” he said.
☞ Well, maybe. But at least he wasn’t a flip-flopper.
On the remote chance you have not already seen this:
Mr. Bush and His 10 Ever-Changing Different Positions on Iraq:
“A flip and a flop and now just a flop.”
By Michael Moore
Wednesday 22 September 2004
Dear Mr. Bush,
I am so confused. Where exactly do you stand on the issue of Iraq? You, your Dad, Rummy, Condi, Colin, and Wolfie — you have all changed your minds so many times, I am out of breath just trying to keep up with you!
Which of these 10 positions that you, your family and your cabinet have taken over the years represents your current thinking:
1983-88: WE LOVE SADDAM.
On December 19, 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was sent by your dad and Mr. Reagan to go and have a friendly meeting with Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. Rummy looked so happy in the picture. Just twelve days after this visit, Saddam gassed thousands of Iranian troops. Your dad and Rummy seemed pretty happy with the results because ‘The Donald R.’ went back to have another chummy hang-out with Saddam’s right-hand man, Tariq Aziz, just four months later. All of this resulted in the U.S. providing credits and loans to Iraq that enabled Saddam to buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and chemical agents. The Washington Post reported that your dad and Reagan let it be known to their Arab allies that the Reagan/Bush administration wanted Iraq to win its war with Iran and anyone who helped Saddam accomplish this was a friend of ours.
1990: WE HATE SADDAM.
In 1990, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, your dad and his defense secretary, Dick Cheney, decided they didn’t like Saddam anymore so they attacked Iraq and returned Kuwait to its rightful dictators.
1991: WE WANT SADDAM TO LIVE.
After the war, your dad and Cheney and Colin Powell told the Shiites to rise up against Saddam and we would support them. So they rose up. But then we changed our minds. When the Shiites rose up against Saddam, the Bush inner circle changed its mind and decided NOT to help the Shiites. Thus, they were massacred by Saddam.
1998: WE WANT SADDAM TO DIE.
In 1998, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, as part of the Project for the New American Century, wrote an open letter to President Clinton insisting he invade and topple Saddam Hussein.
2000: WE DON’T BELIEVE IN WAR AND NATION BUILDING.
Just three years later, during your debate with Al Gore in the 2000 election, when asked by the moderator Jim Lehrer where you stood when it came to using force for regime change, you turned out to be a downright pacifist:
“I–I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don’t think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we’ve got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president [Al Gore] and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I–I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place. And so I take my–I take my–my responsibility seriously.” – October 3, 2000
2001 (early): WE DON’T BELIEVE SADDAM IS A THREAT.
When you took office in 2001, you sent your Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and your National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in front of the cameras to assure the American people they need not worry about Saddam Hussein. Here is what they said:
Powell: “We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they have directed that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was 10 years ago when we began it. And frankly, they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” –February 24, 2001
Rice: “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” –July 29, 2001
2001 (late): WE BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US!
Just a few months later, in the hours and days after the 9/11 tragedy, you had no interest in going after Osama bin Laden. You wanted only to bomb Iraq and kill Saddam and you then told all of America we were under imminent threat because weapons of mass destruction were coming our way. You led the American people to believe that Saddam had something to do with Osama and 9/11. Without the UN’s sanction, you broke international law and invaded Iraq.
2003: WE DON’T BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US.
After no WMDs were found, you changed your mind about why you said we needed to invade, coming up with a brand new after-the-fact reason — we started this war so we could have regime change, liberate Iraq and give the Iraqis democracy!
2003: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”
Yes, everyone saw you say it — in costume, no less!
2004: OOPS. MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED!
Now you call the Iraq invasion a “catastrophic success.” That’s what you called it this month. Over a thousand U.S. soldiers have died, Iraq is in a state of total chaos where no one is safe, and you have no clue how to get us out of there.
Mr. Bush, please tell us — when will you change your mind again?
I know you hate the words “flip” and “flop,” so I won’t use them both on you. In fact, I’ll use just one: Flop. That is what you are. A huge, colossal flop. >The war is a flop, your advisors and the “intelligence” they gave you is a flop, and now we are all a flop to the rest of the world. Flop. Flop. Flop.
And you have the audacity to criticize John Kerry with what you call the “many positions” he has taken on Iraq. By my count, he has taken only one: He believed you. That was his position. You told him and the rest of congress that Saddam had WMDs. So he — and the vast majority of Americans, even those who didn’t vote for you — believed you. You see, Americans, like John Kerry, want to live in a country where they can believe their president.
That was the one, single position John Kerry took. He didn’t support the war, he supported YOU. And YOU let him and this great country down. And that is why tens of millions can’t wait to get to the polls on Election Day — to remove a major, catastrophic flop from our dear, beloved White House — to stop all the flipping you and your men have done, flipping us and the rest of the world off.
We can’t take another minute of it.
HERE’S WHAT *I* THINK
I think maybe Dick Cheney really had met John Edwards prior to their debate. Maybe he and President Bush really were warned even before taking office that Osama Bin Laden represented a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States of America – and maybe they should have ramped up rather than shut down the efforts under way to avert it. Maybe there really were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Maybe Bush really shouldn’t have rushed to war without a plan to win the peace. Maybe we really wouldn’t be greeted with flowers. Maybe ‘by far the vast majority’ of the tax cut didn’t go ‘to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.’ Maybe Lieutenant Bush really did know strings were pulled to get him into the Guard. Maybe he really would have been charged with insider trading if his father hadn’t been President of the United States. Maybe he really did keep people in prison in Texas for doing nothing more than he himself did at Camp David. And, yes, maybe all the carefully orchestrated mocking, ridicule, and character assassination for which the Bush machine is famous does not serve our country well. (If all this strikes you as character assassination, I would argue: it’s not character assassination if it’s true.)
Have a great weekend. Maybe see GOING UPRIVER to decide whether John Kerry is a man you could be proud to vote for.