Many of my friends are Progressives - nah; call 'em Liberals, even Radicals. They accuse George Bush of many things: That he is a liar in regards to, among many other things, Iraq and WMD. That he is an arrogant unilateralist who internationally trashed both international diplomacy and courtesy in the U.S. Legislature. That he is a hypocrite in terms of free trade (most egregiously steel and agriculture). That his tax cuts favor primarily the rich - true; consult the hard numbers - and not only will beggar the federal government but cause unprecedented economic chaos in years to come. That, combined with a policy of preventive and pre-emptive war, his plans for missile defense and tactical nuclear weapons will cause an arms race in reaction, thus leading to radically reduced global security. In addition, my friends claim, George Bush is a Neanderthal when it comes to the environment. He even trashed the findings of his own environmental investigative team.
My friends use these facts and extrapolations to denigrate all Republicans, the GOP in general - a GOP, they insist, which has been taken over by overly patriotic, Bible-thumping right-wingers, amongst whom the President is the lead "born-again Christian." I disagree on all counts.
First and above all, George Bush II is not a Christian, born-again or otherwise. I was born a Roman Catholic. Today, I am a visceral agnostic and perhaps a Buddhist. I know for empirical fact there is a spiritual (not necessarily higher) reality: How else, to name a trite example, to explain love and empathy? Not to mention mysticism at the core of all religion. I am convinced, however, that monotheism is a sickness of mind homo homo sapiens will outgrow if - if! -- it survives as a species. Yet I appreciate and love true Christians - Mother Theresa is a personal hero -, true Muslims, true Hindus and so on. And the truly true Christians I know are doing humanitarian development work in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the United States. I met a number of them when I traveled in Africa, first as a tourist in 1993, then as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana over 27 months, 1995-1997. Compassion, charity, Christian love, agape - call it what you will, it involves an active engagement with those most in need. Nor do they wage war. Never in his life has George Bush II indicated interest for the neediest of the needy, the downtrodden. (His trip to Africa was a PR op in a neutral area of non-strategic importance to the current regime. It pandered to the African-American vote and to Europe; his handlers also very clearly wished to show the diplomat reaching out to other nations in fine words. Yet when it came to the tipping point in Liberia, when more than fine words were required, he failed to deliver.) He is also guilty of waging pre-emptive war - an act entirely incommensurate with the teachings of Christ. I Corinthians 13, you Bible-thumpers.
Secondly: George Bush II is neither a patriot nor an American icon. For it is a fact that he is guilty of treason. In Texas, he scored twenty-five out of one-hundred when he tested for the Air Guard; he was jumped over hundreds of applicants for the Guard slot (some of whom died in Viet Nam); he deserted his post in the Air Guard when he was transferred to Alabama. Damnit, people: Go research the real story. The man is a coward and a deserter. The term 'AWOL' is bandied about; it is unequal to a situation in which a sworn defender abandoned his post and did not return. Veterans; serving members of the military: Please take note.
Next: George Bush II is, simply, an American anomaly, much as Ronald Reagan was. We know Bush is a liar guilty of treason, so it should not be a surprise that he is intent on sabotaging the United States in purely economic terms - in which he proves himself neither a Republican nor a Republican.
How else to explain the Bush II record? Jobless claims are amazing: up to 430,000 per week, and touching 450,000. Capital spending declines of 5.5 per year in this decade - the Bush II decade. A $5.6 trillion - again, trillion - federal budget surplus at his inauguration has now devolved to a $4 trillion deficit: Huge deficits as far as fiscal eyes can see. Two million seven-hundred thousand fewer jobs in the private sector compared to two years ago - Bush II years. This last denotes the longest decline in industrial employment since the Great Depression; specifically, a period of some 34 months. Further, there has been near a doubling of long-term unemployment, plus the stock market - for the first time sine the 1930s - has been off by double digits for the entire length of the Bush II regime. Let's call this what it is: Financial sabotage; fiscal treason. Economic madness, in any terms.
Add to these the fact that the occupation of Iraq costs some 3.8 billion dollars per month, a number not included in the Bush II 2004 budget. Note that American soldiers are dying at an average rate of one to three per day ever since Bush declared major hostilities over months ago. The top commander for Iraq, General Tommy Franks, went on record some weeks ago with his claim that the U.S. might be in Iraq for anywhere from two to four years. Consider the body count of dead Americans and Iraqis; consider the economic and financial costs. Thinkers - and not just critics - already are looking askance at over half the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq and other countries even as the true, immediate threat, North Korea, grows more and more problematic. The Bush team's fumbling on this issue has enabled the last bastion of fanatical Marxist-Leninists to get their nuclear weapons program back on-stream.
To that cheerful news add the outcry among even the most conservative members of his constituency against John Ashcroft, George Bush's Attorney General. Tellingly, the May 3rd-9th 2003 edition of The Economist, page 36, reads "Steamroller Ashcroft: Conservatives beware: an out-of-control attorney general is trampling on your principles."
All this might be understandable if the Bush II administration were truly conservative, or even truly Republican, on ideological grounds. Data indicates that this is not the case and, as econometricians maintain, 'The numbers do not lie.' Writing of the Bush II regime, The Economist, July 5th 2003 issue, reports of the Bushites that "â€¦they are almost completely indifferent to the basic principles of economics." This year's budget will be $455 billion - the largest ever in dollar terms, even though, at 4.2% of GDP, it is less than the 6% achieved under Ronald Reagan. Yet federal spending increased 13.5% during the first three years of the Bush II term, and federal spending has risen from 18.4% of national income to 19.9% at this writing. "Combine this profligacy with huge tax cuts, and you have a recipe for deficits as far ahead as the eye can see. Why has the self-proclaimed party of small government turned itself into the party of unlimited spending?" Bush II is unfavorably compared to Bill Clinton: "He was better at keeping spending under control, increasing total government spending by a mere 3.5% in his first three years in office and reducing discretionary spending by 8.8%."
Further: "The real reason for the profligacy are even more depressing. Mr. Bush seems to have no real problem with big government; it is just big Democratic government he can't take. One-party rule, which was supposed to make structural reform easier, also looks ever more savoury. Without a Congress that will check their excesses, the Republicans, even under the saintly Dr Frist, have reverted to type: rewarding their business clients, doling out tax cuts and ignoring the fiscal consequences. The Economist, July 5th-11th 2003.
Dr. Frist, who reportedly expends his surgical skills gratis in the Sudan, may in fact be a truly good man. George Bush II -- neither a true Christian nor a true Republican - is demonstrably a liar and a deserter guilty of treason on military and economic fronts. The numbers and the hard facts do not lie.
Ned Boudreau is a free-lance writer and journalist. He lives in Framingham, MA.