Mark Evanier on his blog over at newsfromme.com has some great links up to some political articles. Actually, lately he always has great links up, but these two are above and beyond good reading. I hope he doesn't mind that I'm duping his links here.
One is a gigantic 10-page NY Times article discussing Bush's reliance on faith when making decisions, which, some people seem to indicate, is bordering on dementia. Including allegedly telling a group of Amish in Lancaster County PA (a mere hour east of where I live) that "I trust God speaks through me." One of the most telling quotes is from Bush media advisor Mark McKinnon where he explains that Bush's appeal to middle America works because he's just as stupid as they are. That's my interpretation of his quote, but I'm not far off in terms of tone and language...
He [McKinnon] started by challenging me [author Ron Suskind]. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!''
Here's something from that article I didn't know about George W. Bush, which is all the more pointed given the constant attacks on Kerry's "undistinguished record." Bush wandered aimlessly for years, in and out of positions largely arranged by friends of the family. His entry into politics was the governorship of Texas, and six years later he was elected president. Does this mean he only had six years of political experience before landing the most important job in the land?
The second article is beautiful. From the editorial section of the Tampa Tribune, it explains why they cannot endorse Bush nor Kerry. Note that the Tampa Tribune is a historically conservative newspaper, having endorsed every other Republican candidate since Ike (with one exception, Barry Goldwater). This viewpoint colors their take on Bush, and it very closely matches my own as a disappointed Republican voter.
What bothers us is that the president says that even knowing what he knows now, he still would have invaded Iraq because Saddam had the "intent'' to make nuclear weapons and was a ruthless dictator who killed his own people. [...]
Still, we are troubled by Bush's talk about a broad "forward strategy of freedom'' to "transform'' the Middle East. We believe it unwise to use our military to impose democracy on Arab countries, which would rather determine their own future. We fear this model of forced democracy will only fuel recruiting campaigns for terrorism.
And how about Iran and North Korea, who have considerably more advanced nuclear capabilities than Iraq ever had? Are we going to brashly send our overstretched military to war there too? [...]
The Iraq war came about because of a profound failure of intelligence that went unchecked and unquestioned by the president, who shows no sign of having second doubts.
I know, the party line is that you can't lead our armed forces if you send them out and then pull them back because you're unsure of the proper path. Bush repeated that several times during the debates. It's one of the talking points filed under his "firm resolve" heading. But it's an excuse, a poor excuse that makes him look like he doesn't want to lose face in front of the troops. Some things are more important than keeping your approval rating up among soldiers... and I suspect many of them would prefer that we do the right thing in the end anyway. We pulled out of Vietnam, we can pull out of Iraq. Our foreign policy is being reduced to the size of Bush's wang.
While I'm talking about Vietnam, what is up with the sudden whitewashing of what went on during that war? Hey, we did commit atrocities. So did they. Why are both Dems and Republicans trying to make us think that something honorable happened over there? Kerry wants us to respect his service record, and the Bushies want us to think he sold out our troops by pointing out said atrocities. Napalming the enemy's children during a war is/was/will be wrong. If we're doing the wrong thing, we need to end it, and not keep on plugging away just so the hawks can keep their egos up.
Here's a bumper sticker for you: Just because you serve(d) in America's armed forces, that doesn't make you right. There is no room is this world for blind devotion to anything.
Then there's the deficit, something Bush supporters have completely erased from public discussion. When I've mentioned the deficit to dedicated Bush voters, they're either convinced it is irrelevant, have never heard of it, or simply don't care because they personally received a tax cut.
However, although the numbers from recent months are more promising, the tax cuts did not spur the expected job growth. The nation has lost jobs during the Bush presidency, the first administration since Herbert Hoover's to oversee a net loss of jobs.
But while the recession, 9/11 and profligate spending by Congress have grown the deficit, two-thirds can be traced back to the president's tax cuts, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Bush's mistake was failing to couple tax cuts with reduced spending. Instead of asking some sacrifice from the public, he allowed Congress to keep spending, including a giveaway program of farm subsidies.
Bush has yet to veto a single spending bill. Even Franklin Roosevelt scaled back New Deal programs after Pearl Harbor.
The result: Bush has turned the $150 billion surplus he inherited into a $450 billion deficit.
This article echoes the faith points from the first one, hovering around the suggestion that this guy listens to no one and expects the entire country to trust his gut.
This president doesn't try to hear from people who disagree, choosing instead to keep the counsel of staunch supporters. He disdains news conferences and brags that he doesn't read the newspapers. He counts on his core group of insiders to tell him what he needs to know.
When asked if he consulted his father, the only other president to have waged war against Iraq, Bush unabashedly said that he spoke to a "higher father.'' Presidential decisions about sending men and women to war should be based on fact, not prayer.
Still, the president seems like a nice guy. He is plain-spoken and says what he means. People who've met him come away impressed. If he were a drinking man, they say, they would enjoy having a beer with him. But we're not electing Mr. Congeniality. We're electing the leader of the free world and should set a higher standard than likability.
I like that "if he were a drinking man" line. It underlines his arrogant Born Again Evangelical lifestyle, which should (but doesn't) insult every man, woman and child in the country. Mr. President, those of who made and continue to make smart choices concerning alcohol, religion and relationships are not at all impressed by your magical mystical middle age turnaround instigated by your rich daddy's partisan friendship with Billy Fucking Graham. Unfortunately, we're the minority and the nation is filled with pleasant, affable know-nothings who think the world is clear-cut black and white. Bush's plan in the Middle East has been fed to the American public like a Bruce Willis movie: Iraq deserved being flattened because they're evil and we'll emerge the victor 90 minutes later. Well, the credits have already rolled and no one has won anything.
Kerry takes his lumps too in the Tampa Tribune editorial, and they're mostly entirely fair. His "I have a plan" refrain hasn't convinced anyone, and, like any politician who has worked for more than six years, his voting record encompasses a bundle of contradictions. But, after watching the debates, at least we know he's heard of "The Sopranos" and he knows there's only one internet. And then there's his one big advantage... he's not Bush.