Friday, September 03, 2004

The Bush Speech - an Undemocratic Response

Right up front, right here, right now, I'll tell you that I didn't watch George Bush's acceptance speech last night. I was far more interested in attending to other important things, like clipping my toenails. Personal hygiene takes precedent over the preznit any day.

Truthfully, the text of his speech was plastered all over the web in advance of the event, so I saw no need to further torture myself by watching him actually deliver it. So any comments from this point forward are based on the text version, and not the distortions and inaccuracies that slipped through his lips.

At the outset of his remarks, he did exactly what everyone expected: invoked the GOP Time Machine and talked about 9/11/01 and Ronald Reagan. Both topics were discussed in the first couple of minutes. Smarmy, perhaps, but again, expected. Then he segued into a recap of the highlights of his past four years in office.

He touted his record on the economy. I heard a GOP spinmeister this morning allude to a 19% increase in discretionary income for 'muricans, thanks to Bush's tax cut package. And I'm thinking to myself, "what planet does this guy live on?". Without question, my family's discretionary income has been absolutely decimated in the time that Bush has occupied the oval office. I'm paying twice as much for gas as I was at the end of the Clinton administration. My out-of-pocket health insurance contribution has risen dramatically. In real take-home dollars, I'm bringing home less today than in 2000 - and I know I'm not the only one.

Then it struck me. If in fact discretionary income did rise overall, it's because the high end of the economic spectrum received huge personal tax cuts (averaging over $75,000), while those of us at the middle and low end of the spectrum received on average $300. One trip to Sears and that's gone. Again, the $300 was a drop in the bucket compared to my overall loss of real income in the past four years.

George Bush's record on the economy is a miserable failure.

During his speech, he spent a lot of time (not surprisingly) on touting his credentials as a 'war preznit', but spent zero time discussing his administration's total botch job of everything related to topics with a military theme. He didn't talk about the almost complete abandonment of Afghanistan, and how the warlords and Taliban are basically back at the helm. The only place western influence is felt is within the confines of Kabul - and even then, only a portion of the city. He didn't talk about the nearly 1000 dead in Iraq, a war that was completely hosed from the moment that Donald Rumsfeld refused to listen to his battlefield commanders regarding how many troops needed to be in theatre.

Perhaps even more amazing, in attempting to brand himself as tough on terror, neither Bush or any of the week's speakers touched on the most potent symbol of terrorism - Osama bin Laden. The guy has been on the run for three years. In the ultimate flip-flop, bin Laden was (in the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001) the most wanted man on the face of the earth.

And then strangely, bin Laden became not-so-important. What happened? Apparently, the job became more difficult than envisioned, and so the path of least resistance from the Bush administration is that "bin Laden doesn't matter". Huh??

Oh, that's right, George and Dick had a PNAC-sponsored war to start. Forgive me.

There's not a lot of reason to dissect Bush's speech any further. It was very short on past accomplishments, and very long on some scary topics - given the past history of the Bush administration with, for example tax reform, I have no doubt that the treasury would be further plundered by the uber rich at the expense of the common folk. I also have no doubt that his brokerage buddies are salivating at the prospect of tens of trillions of dollars flowing into the legalized gambling pit of Wall Street in the form of self-directed retirement accounts, rather than contributions to keep Social Security afloat. I'll admit that there are some problems to be solved with social security, but they're not unsolvable problems that don't hose the boomers coming up on retirement who've been contributing to the SS kitty for 30+ years.

All in all, I have no confidence that four more years of the Bush administration will fix anything - to the contrary, my nightmare involves the Bush administration taking the U.S. places where none of us want to go, both militarily and economically.