Conventional Widsom: George Bush, All Hat and No Cattle

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

With his speech on Thursday, President Bush had an opportunity to admit his mistakes in the last four years and promise to correct them and move our country forward. He could have admitted that his failed economic policies have cost millions of jobs and created record deficits, that his education bill has put new burdens on schools without actually giving them money to fund improvement, and that his misguided foreign policies have alienated our allies and created more terrorists than have been destroyed, leaving our nation less secure. George Bush could have done this, but he didn?t. He proceeded with the same determined stubbornness and blind ideology that led him to attack a country that posed no threat to us and that led him to pass gigantic tax cuts for the rich and massive entitlements for drug companies even in the face of potentially crippling deficits. He also proceeded to ignore the facts of how his policies have greatly harmed our country.

On the economy, George Bush said: ?We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet.? Unfortunately, this is not true. New economic data shows that in the past month, we haven?t even created enough jobs to keep up with the rising size of the American workforce, and that after three years with George Bush as President, we have 1.6 million fewer jobs than we started with. Instead of creating jobs, George Bush gave the richest one percent of Americans an average tax cut of $78,460, creating enormous and unsustainable budget deficits that will force sharp domestic spending cuts or tax increases in the near future. Instead of dealing with healthcare costs that are spiraling out of control, George Bush has made it harder for workers to pay these costs, decreasing overtime pay requirements and job training programs.

On Iraq, Bush said that ?we knew Saddam Hussein?s record of aggression and support for terror.? No one can deny that Saddam was an evil man, but we trounced him in the Persian Gulf War and he had become even weaker since then. Saddam had been effectively contained, and the sanctions were working: He posed no threat to us, and he hadn?t sponsored terrorism against us in over a decade. Despite this, and despite the lack of evidence that he had weapons of mass destruction, Bush distorted intelligence, seized upon forged documents to claim that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger, falsely connected Saddam with the September 11 attacks, and rushed to a war based on lies and distortions without a plan to win the peace. Furthermore, a senior CIA analyst who headed the CIA?s bin Laden unit for three years wrote that the war was a ?tremendous gift? to al Qaeda and a major setback in our war on terror.

National security is another area where George Bush?s policies have failed to match his rhetoric. After originally opposing a Department of Homeland Security, opposing the commission investigating the September 11 attacks, and withholding evidence from it, Bush has underfunded police and firefighters, our first responders in the case of another attack. A task force headed by former Republican Senator Warren Rudman reported that Bush?s budgets underfund emergency responders by $98.4 billion over the next five years. He also underfunds port security: Only five percent of the 25,000 shipping containers entering the U.S. every day are inspected, and Bush cut port security grants by 63 percent from last year.

In a recent speech, George Bush said that ?our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.? While he might not have meant to say this, it contains a frightening amount of truth. The Bush administration has presided over the first loss of jobs in over 70 years, an economic squeeze on the middle class, a war that has undermined the real threats we face, and the vast underfunding of homeland security. Unfortunately, in his speech at the Republican National Convention, George Bush made clear his determination to stay the course with his disastrous policies.