by Greg Method
Nine months ago, I asked what I thought was a simple question: Why? Why do people like George W. Bush? Why are there still large pockets of people who support him? What exactly is the appeal, and why do I not see it?
So for the better part of the year I did something I never thought I would see myself doing. I got to know George W. Bush. I learned about his political and personal history, his obsession with religion, his past businesses, his current financial ties, his family, and of course his policies while in the Oval Office. Whenever he spoke on television, I would try to study his facial and verbal tendencies to see what questions or comments set him off, so to speak. I got to know my enemy better than perhaps his strongest supporters have.
And I didn't just simply learn about the man and his life. I also tried to apply the knowledge that I obtained. I tried to understand his positions in order to reach conclusions. I tried to figure out a way one might be able to reason with him. I even played the part of an amateur psychologist based on what I learned of him. And you know what? I still couldn't figure it out. Despite everything I learned about the man and his motives, I still saw nothing more than a privileged doofus who never had to work for anything in his life.
I was kinda half-hoping that at some point in the course of these nine months someone, somewhere, would shed a little light on the subject of Bush's appeal. I mean, it's not impossible to get a hold of me, and I highly doubt everyone who has ever stumbled upon a ...without Bush column has agreed with me 100 percent on everything. But no, not once did I ever receive an e-mail that said "Well, here is why I like George W. Bush..." or "You're forgetting about this one quality he has..."
People of course have sent me e-mails featuring a different view, but really they would just be things like "I think voting for Kerry would be a comfort for terrorists" (because, you know, there has been so much evidence out there to support such a bizarre notion) or scolding me for listing the names of the war dead back in February (because heaven forbid we actually acknowledge the sacrifice over a thousand of our fellow citizens have made over a lie). But not once, not once, did anyone ever give me any clue into the reasons why some people still like Bush.
What does that say, exactly? I said this back in January, but it is clear that Bush is presiding over a bitterly divided country and his every action has simply enraged people...enough to prompt cross-country concert tours and scathing documentaries. Why aren't the supposed Bush supporters speaking up? Why aren't they defending him? If the shoe was on the other foot, I couldn't wait to defend a president that I strongly supported.
The reason is pretty easy to understand. They can't defend Bush. Bush has said recently "Ya can run but ya can't hide," and that's so true. America is in worse shape now than it was four years ago. That's not rhetoric, that's a fact. It would still be a fact if September 11 didn't happen. Every decision Bush has made has been the wrong choice, period.
And that's what the last nine months had been about for me. I had to essentially relive the first three-and-a-half years of the Bush "presidency" in just nine months. I had no idea what I was in for, but the key difference is that I'll admit when I'm in over my head. Bush will not. In fact, he'll just blame Clinton.
Over the course of these nine months I also looked at a variety of key issues and what Bush has done about them. Issues that might not mean everything to everybody, but issues that are individually important to someone whose vote Bush will sorely need.
In February I looked at the "war on terrah," Iraq, national security, and well, things that go "boom" in general. I showed how we are now statistically as safe as we were on September 11 of being a victim of terrorism. In the months since, numerous commissions have proven that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, had no access to "weapons of mass destruction," and frankly had nothing to do with the "war on terrah." It is so clear that Bush's only true motive to invade the country was personal and had nothing to do with our security.
Meanwhile, the man we know was involved with September 11 is still on the loose, over three years after the tragedy. Bush not only said in March 2003 that he was no longer concerned about finding Osama bin Laden, but during this last debate, he doesn't even remember saying that! And we're supposed to trust him with our national security?!?
Diane Sawyer specifically asked Bush "What about Osama bin Laden?" and he couldn't give a straight answer. And when Diane later asked him if the cost of lives in the war were worth it even though the evidence behind it was flimsy at best, Bush answered, "So what's the difference?"
So what does this mean? Bush's foreign policy is incompetent at best and he, seemingly, doesn't really give a shit about who he's killed in the process. Can't really support a president on that.
In March I focused on Bush's curious obsession with amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. Without any evidence or statistics he has claimed that homosexuals are a threat to the institution of marriage...you know, that thing that Britney Spears does every couple of months when she's really horny. Not surprisingly, Bush has also opposed protecting gays under hate-crime laws.
As I pointed out, when he ran in 2000 he supported equal rights and states deciding on their own whether or not to allow gay marriage. Now he may very well be regarded as the most anti-gay president ever.
Adding the fact that he also appointed judges that favor Ku Klux Klan-style violence, it's very clear that Bush is anti-civil rights. So much for being against "big government." How can any rational person support a president based on this?
This past April I flat out called Bush a hypocrite for his actions in the "war on drugs" because of his past alcoholism and his current addiction to religion, while also pointing out that he has received at least $3.6 million from the alcohol, tobacco, restaurant, sugar, and pharmaceutical industries...industries that depend on us being unhealthy. How can a person seriously support a president who's this corrupt?
Just a month later, in May, I described the numerous, numerous ways Bush has tried to screw with the rights of women, from the right to have an abortion to having a voice in the branches of government to good ol' Title IX! Bush and his team have banned abortions in the second or third trimester regardless of threats to the mother's health, have bypassed the Senate to appoint a pro-life redneck judge to an appeals court, have tried to scare women into thinking that abortions lead to breast cancer, and have likened pro-choice women to terrorists.
Bush has also prevented taxpayer money from funding stem cell research while putting a halt on further development, despite the fact that fetuses intended to be used are already dead. This not only limits the possibilities to what we already know, but it also impedes the course of medical progress, thus putting millions of people around the world at risk for various diseases new and old.
So Bush is not only anti-women, but he's also anti-science. No surprise on either of those, really, but still, is that someone you want representing you??
For June's very lengthy column, I went over in painful detail some of the ways Bush has completely wiped his ass with the environment. Not surprisingly, most of his actions were favors to the logging and drilling industries, involved privatizing public lands, or jeopardized small businesses in favor of oil drilling. In fact, environmental personnel changed dramatically during Bush's administration, as he would fire scientists whose findings would disagree with his ideology and then hire former mining lobbyists and anti-environment "experts."
I don't think this needs to be said, but it's doubtful there's any pro-environment people out there who are crazy enough to support Bush.
In July, I hit one of the biggest mommas in this election, the economy. I showed that under Bush's term so far, the average monthly unemployment rate has been higher than during all eight years of Clinton's term, less and less people are finding new jobs, more and more jobs are being outsourced overseas, and the monthly job turnover rate has been on a steady decline. So on jobs alone, no rational person can support Georgie Boy.
Also during the Bush term, inflation has been increasing at a faster rate, manufacturing productivity has been decreasing, the rate of rental vacancies have been at their highest since 1990, the homeownership rate has been growing at a slower rate than under Clinton, imports are increasing more than exports, the biggest surplus in our nation's history quickly became our biggest deficit ever, and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reported that 25 percent of the country did not receive any relief from Bush's supposedly miraculous tax cuts to the rich...while the majority of those who did received a much lower benefit than Bush himself promised!
So when Bush calls himself a "conservative" he must mean it in a way that I'm not familiar with, as he is perhaps the most fiscally irresponsible "conservative" "president" we've ever had! How can anyone who has any interest in the economy like this guy? Hell, even real conservatives are pissed at him!
When August came around, I looked at another big issue this year, health care. Hoo boy, the shit I found. Forcing seniors to enter costly programs or join HMOs in order to receive a nonexistent "discount" on drug costs, preventing people from importing drugs from Canada to receive a real discount, burying reports that link antidepressants to child suicides, bills that favor the various medical industries that have contributed millions to his campaigns, and attempts to prevent people from receiving compensation from incompetent doctors for malpractice.
I think it can honestly be said that the problems health care will face in the next decade will be a direct result of the actions of Dubya. So again, it's doubtful that people with medicine on the brain (figuratively or literally) will support him.
And just last month I went over the many actual flip-flops of the Bush administration. Unbeknownst to me when I was writing it, that seemed to have been the big political topic in September, as various magazines, newspapers, and even CNN did stories on it. I don't know if such stories had any effect on him, but if you noticed during the debates, by about the middle of the second one, Bush dropped the whole "Kerry's inconsistent" charge completely. In fact, the only time he has since repeated it has been to his base at his pre-screened rallies, in which they'll believe anything he'll say because they're most likely paid off. Really, how could Bush continue to make that charge to a bipartisan audience anymore? You'd start hearing chants of "bull...shit...bull...shit" from the crowd.
Anyway, it's been clearly proven that Bush is far more indecisive than Kerry is, so even those Bush supporters who used to parrot the "flip-flopper" accusation can't defend their guy with that anymore.
So, again, after nine months it just all goes back to the question of why? Why are there still Bush supporters out there?
He has done everything in his power to ruin every single aspect of American life, from the economy to the environment. Hell, he won't even fund his own education plan! Absolutely no good has come from the Bush "presidency," so why on earth would any responsible adult want four more years of the same? Are they sadists??
The real problem is you don't have to look very hard to see how bad things have become.
In my home state of Ohio alone, the unemployment rate has steadily increased every month of Bush's term. For the entire year of 2003, that rate never dropped below 6 percent. This past August, our unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, an alltime high under Bush and the highest its been in over a decade. That's over 370,000 Ohioans out of work. During Bush's first three years, Ohio has lost over 71,000 manufacturing jobs in mass layoffs alone. Our manufacturing jobs in all have shrunk from 992,778 people employed in January 2001 to 845,276 in December 2003. Meanwhile, over 12 percent of our state's population is without health coverage.
That's Ohio in a nutshell. The state was only home to LTV Steel, Firestone, Rubbermaid, Jeep, and other manufacturers, and the last couple of years have been the worst in our economy's history.
Not even a year ago Bush was pushing for a huge energy bill that would give tax breaks and subsidies to big energy companies, adding about $18 billion more to the already ballooning deficit. Bush also wanted the government to give private utilities the right to take private land by eminent domain. Now, let's see if I have this straight. Last summer, Ohio was blamed for the biggest power outage in our nation's history, and Bush wanted to give companies like FirstEnergy more power and privileges??
Teachers, school workers, police officers, firefighters, and others have been laid off left and right. Hospitals have closed down. And these aren't just Ohio problems. Just walk around your own neighborhood. How many houses have been put up for sale so people can look for work elsewhere?
But sure enough, in case Ohio's woes weren't serious enough, the Census Bureau ranked Cleveland as the country's poorest big city, with a 2003 poverty rate of 31.3 percent.
We need help, and we're simply not getting it from Bush. Maybe he doesn't know what to do, or maybe he doesn't really care, but frankly I don't think our state can just wait around to find out which one it is. If I may paraphrase a famous Clinton campaign mantra, "It's the economy, Steubenville!"
So, again, what it is? Why do people insist on supporting Bush??
Is it September 11? I refuse to believe that nearly half of the country favors this man just because three years ago we were attacked by his business associates, while a month before, while he was on a month-long vacation, he refused to read his own administration's terrorism briefings. Briefings that clearly explained bin Laden's plan to attack the United States with our own airplanes. Briefings that, if they were actually read, could very well have saved three thousand people that day.
Of course, if you dig around enough and read articles, or if you do yourself a favor and see a certain documentary, you'll find that Bush had more ties to the September 11 terrorists than Saddam did! Am I the only one who's bothered by that?
And do we really want a president who capitalized on a national tragedy in order to launch an unrelated, unjust war for very personal reasons, thus killing an additional one thousand of our citizens? Is that what leadership is??
I ask again, why?
It seems the big reason that remains is that people feel that Bush will protect them. Why?? Why would a rational thinking person believe that? When the time came to actually do just that, he sat and stared for the same length of time it takes one to watch an average Warner Bros. cartoon. If that's not a dealbreaker, then I don't know what is.
Not to make light of a serious crime, but it's like we're a nation of domestic-violence victims who just can't bring themselves to leave their abusers. "Yeah, I know he hurts me and takes away my self-respect, but I feel safe with him!" I thought we were the United States of America, not the United States of Battered Wives.
Please, grow some balls for once, people! Our problems are not going to end unless we actually do something about them. We were willing to invade a country to get rid of a rotten leader who was harming his people, so why aren't we following our own example??
Speaking of Iraq, I have a little something to say to those of you out there who may be parroting the phrases "Well, how will Kerry handle the Iraq war differently?" or "How can Kerry possibly finish this war if he called it the wrong war at the wrong time?" or some variations.
First of all, here's a thought: did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't be in the mess we're currently involved in if it wasn't for Bush?? Probably the biggest way Kerry would have handled Iraq differently would have been by not invading the damn country in the first place! The sanctions were working, the very sanctions Bush wanted to get rid of! This is Bush's war, period. This wouldn't have happened if anyone else was currently in office. He wanted this war for very personal reasons, and that alone is a crime.
Imagine that you owned a department store and you hired me to be the night manager. Now, let's say one night after hours I snuck out to grab some dinner and left the store's safe unlocked. And let us now pretend that a burglar snuck in and then robbed the store. I come back, see the problem, and then impulsively have the morning staff fired the next day. Needless to say, you would probably be considering to hire a new night manager. But would you ask an applicant, "How would you handle this other guy's incredibly unique screw-up differently?"
As for that second parroted question, and it is one that Bush himself has posed with that wrinkly smirk of his, Kerry can finish this war because he's a responsible adult. Kerry can finish this war because he'd actually know what he's doing. Kerry can finish this war because as the president that would be his job. Anyone who would question otherwise clearly doesn't understand the job of the president...right, George?
Really, think about it. Bush invaded Iraq, and this whole year he's been making it his top election issue. He's created his own issue, one he can focus on without having to be held accountable for little, inconsequential things like the economy, health care, the environment, and finding Osama bin Laden.
Oh yeah, that's right, where's Osama?!? You know, that guy that was supposedly "wanted dead or alive" before he was inexplicably no longer a concern?
In case I haven't been absolutely clear on this, Bush's term in office has been defined by incompetence, corruption, carelessness, phallic paternal issues, laziness, and sheer stupidity. And that's not just rhetoric. Those are the facts. I've shown that these past nine months.
So, once again, why? What is it about Bush that makes people just fall madly in love with him?
As I pondered back in January, at the start of this wild ride through failure and greed, does it simply not matter to Bush supporters that he's a loser? Do they even care that he can't deliver any positive results? Is it in fact better to be blind than angry? Oblivious than embarrassed? Is the image better than the substance?
It may not matter to them, but it matters to me. I want the smart guy running the show, not the guy who gets easily distracted during his own speeches. Our elected officials should be our shining examples to the world, representing who and what we all strive to be. John Kerry has been a war hero, an anti-war hero, and a leader in the Senate. I'm sure people have strived to be like him. Has anyone ever seriously strived to be like George W. Bush?
I want John Kerry to be our next president because I want to be able to look up to our president again. I don't want the guy that I would be able to outsmart in a conversation. I want a president who will make all of us proud to be Americans again, not ashamed and embarrassed.
Plus, there's another, more selfish reason I want Kerry to win. I don't want to have to write ...without Bush columns for the next four years. Seriously, I just spent the past nine months of my life getting to know this guy inside and out, all the while trying to point out every one of his flaws in the hope that it would persuade just one person out there to help vote him out of office. There are so many other things I would rather have done with the last nine months, but I chose to do this because I believe in this country, its citizens, its democracy, and what it all stands for. I just don't know if I have another forty-eight months in me.
This is the home stretch. We have less than three weeks to decide how we want to shape our country for the next four years. We can either "stay the course" and have more of the same evil and treachery with someone whose every comment and action is full of deceit, or we can go down a new road, embark on a new adventure with someone who's willing to fight for every one of us regardless of our financial status, someone who has saved lives before, and someone who will not rest until the last four years have become nothing but a bad dream.
I'm ready to go on that adventure, and I hope you're willing to join me.
Hopefully we'll meet again in better times...it all depends on us.
Quote of the Month
"I hate it when people say, 'You don't change horses mid-stream.' What if the horse can't swim and is in over its head, and you didn't want to cross the stream in the first place?"
Link of the Month
Kerry/Edwards: The Official Campaign Site
Get to know the men we're going to elect!