Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s smear of philanthropist George Soros was so egregious that few took a moment to realize how, also, stupid it was. You will recall that Hastert suggested maybe Soros gets his money from the drug cartel. After all, he said, Soros is in favor of legalizing drugs.

Mark Willcox: ‘Dennis Hastert suggests that the Drug Cartels are in favor of legalizing drugs?’ Legalizing drugs would, of course, destroy the drug cartels.


The trillion dollar lie about his proposed tax cut was, needless to say, far more significant to actual people’s lives than anything he may have said about his National Guard service. ( ‘By far the vast majority [of the benefit of his tax cut],’ he looked into the camera and lied, would go ‘to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.’)

Still, when pressed during the 1994 Texas gubernatorial debate, he answered this way:

Moderator: You are confident no influence was exercised on your behalf [in getting a spot in the National Guard]?

George W. Bush: I am, yeah.

We all can be sad that so much of the election is argued over stuff like this instead of about, say, the $400+ billion deficit . . . which is really $600 billion when you count the Social Security surplus Bush pledged not to touch but has spent instead . . . or about the decision to divert resources from the hunt for bin Laden to invade Iraq. (Or about stem cell research, the environment, assault weapons, or uniting not dividing.)

But the Bush machine goes after character, as it did with Dukakis and McCain and Gore and Cleland . . . and as it is now working to mock and destroy a Bronze and Silver Star medal winner.

So it’s fair game, I think, to point out that Bush lied about his military service. In 1994 and again in this campaign season, he said he got no special treatment and that he showed up for duty as required. But the truth is that ‘President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot.’ [Washington Post, 9/9/04] And that he ‘performed no service at all for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973.’ [Boston Globe, 9/8/04] (Not that he wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter of the Vietnam War. He just was not eager to fight in it.)

He was, let’s face it, a pretty rotten student at Yale, a pretty rotten Guardsman, a pretty rotten student at Harvard Business School, a pretty rotten businessman, and is now . . . well, we get to decide November 2 what kind of president he has been.

But we know this much: He is the first president since Herbert Hoover to see a net job loss on his watch (all the more remarkable in the face of low interest rates and massive deficit spending) . . . a president who misled us into a disastrous war (which, even if it had ultimately proved necessary as a last resort, as it might have, could have been managed so much better) . . . a president who has turned most of world opinion against us (helping, thereby, to create thousands of new terrorists) . . . a president who has engineered a huge redistribution of wealth to the wealthy . . . a president who has failed spectacularly at killing the man who masterminded the attack that killed 3,000 of us (or who – even worse – is cynically timing this event for maximum political impact*).

How can so many Americans still be cheering for George Bush in the face of a record like this? I again commend to you Paul Krugman’s explanation in Monday’s New York Times.

*If they should just happen to get bin Laden, coincidentally, in these last critical weeks before the election, it will surely be the most cynical political act since Karl Rove bugged his own office. (You don’t know that story? This crowd is as good as it gets at deceiving voters.)

Monday (I hope): Your Taxes


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