Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bookman examines the record

Contrary to popular belief, we're not all knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers here in the southeastern U.S. Here's Jay Bookman in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

When the president said in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive, he didn't mean that he wanted bin Laden alive somewhere in Pakistan, out of U.S. reach and still plotting terror three years later. When Bush stood on an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, to declare victory in Iraq with a "Mission Accomplished" banner artfully placed in the background, he could not have imagined that 15 months later that mission would remain many American lives and many billions of dollars short of accomplished.

On the domestic front, the record isn't any better. Bush did manage to push two major tax cuts through Congress, but those cuts supposedly had a purpose beyond enriching the top 1 percent and adding trillions of dollars to the national debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. By official White House estimates, those tax cuts were supposed to create several million jobs, but three years later, very few of those jobs have materialized. And to the dismay of true fiscal conservatives, Democratic as well as Republican, Bush has expanded nondefense spending more quickly than any president in 50 years.

Most voters know all that now, at least on some level. Some will vote for Bush in spite of that record, in many cases out of loyalty to the man they see as their side's leader in the culture wars. But others are looking for someone to lead the nation, not a cause, and if Kerry can convince a majority of those voters that he is capable of the job, he will be our next president.

That part about the expansion of nondefense spending has me stumped. What in the hell is Bush spending it on? It's not education; he hasn't funded his own "No Child Left Behind" mandate. It's not veterans' benefits; he keeps trying to cut those. It's not homeland security; just ask New York. Halliburton's backed up a fleet of armored trucks to the U.S. Treasury -- but that counts as defense spending. So where's it going?


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