Tuesday, July 20, 2004

George W. Bush, the "War is Peace" President

In a better world, we could all just laugh our asses off about something like this:

With polls showing public support for the war in Iraq (news - web sites) in decline, the Republican president cast himself as a reluctant warrior as he campaigned in the battleground state of Iowa against Democrat John Kerry (news - web sites) and his running mate, former trial lawyer John Edwards (news - web sites). Bush lost the state in 2000 by only a few thousand votes.

"The enemy declared war on us," he told a re-election rally. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."

Bush has called himself a "war president" in leading the United States in a battle against terrorism brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said in February.

Ah, "the enemy." It's a moving target, donchaknow. For a supposedly dumb guy, you've got to admire how Bush elides the question of whether the enemy who "declared war on us" on 9/11--also known as The Day That Saved the Bush Presidency-- is the same enemy we invaded last spring. As Ed Helms said on The Daily Show, the facts themselves have "an anti-Bush bias."

Also gotta love how "the president who doesn't look at polls" talks war in February, when support for the Iraq incursion remained reasonably high, and then goes all Gandhi in July, after majorities indicated disapproval of the war.

But my favorite chestnut from this story has to be this less-noticed liberty with the facts:

Bush and Cheney have sought to cast Kerry and Edwards as on the side of trial lawyers, who the president believes are responsible for a flood of personal injury litigation that burdens the courts and is costly to small business. Democrats get campaign contributions from trial lawyers, while many businesses tend to favor the Republicans.

"I'm not a lawyer, you'll be happy to hear," Bush said to cheers. "That's the other team. This is the pro-small business team."

Anti-lawyer talk has been around at least since Shakespeare's day, and I guess it plays well in "the sticks." (Bush doesn't seem to have a problem with James Baker 3d or Ted Olson, and I somehow doubt those are the only two legal stars in the right-wing sky.) But the small business dig is what's really offensive here. As the Gadflyer noted last month, Bush's record on small business issues is atrocious, particularly considering rhetoric like this. He's stripped the head of the Small Business Administration of Cabinet rank and has tried repeatedly to slash the SBA budget, successfully cutting it by 25 percent. In the words of Joel Marks, executive director of the American Small Business Alliance, "Bush has dumped on [the small business community] from nearly day one of his administration."

Close observers of Bush talk versus action on issues from homeland security to community college and workforce development won't be surprised by any of this, but it sure would be nice if our press cadres would sit up and take notice beyond the Republican National Committee talking points. Of course, it also wouldn't hurt if the Kerry campaign spoke up on this one.

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