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Five reasons that Bush deserves to lose (again)

Monday, March 15, 2004

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Written by Scott Piatkowski

Canadians are much more than spectators when our American neighbours go to the polls. With the possible exception of Iraq (or whichever country the United States happens to be occupying at any given moment), we are more affected by the outcome of American elections than any other country. In view of that reality, it’s time for a primer on just a few of the many reasons that George W. Bush deserves to lose this November’s election – and by a large enough margin that the Supreme Court can’t overturn the results this time.

1) Bush is shamelessly exploiting the 9/11 tragedy to bolster his re-election bid.
Last week, the Republicans debuted campaign ads that prominently feature footage from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre – including at least one instance of firefighters carrying a dead body out of the rubble. Party officials are even musing aloud about having Bush do his convention speech live from Ground Zero. Referring to the ads, Monica Gabrielle (whose husband died in attacks) said “It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people. It is unconscionable.” Bill Doyle, part of several September 11 family groups, added “Families are enraged. What I think is distasteful is that the president is trying to use 9/11 as a springboard for his re-election.”

2) Bush first tried to block, then failed to co-operate with, a panel investigating intelligence failures leading up to 9/11. The commission had to issue subpoenas to the White House and federal agencies and had to threaten to obtain court orders for documents from the White House. When Bush finally agreed to testify, he refused to do so publicly. Kristen Breitweiser, a member of the Family Steering Committee whose husband was killed in the attacks commented that private testimony “is a step in the right direction, (but) I don't understand why high-ranking officials would not welcome the opportunity to testify openly in a public forum. If you've got nothing to hide, why wouldn't you welcome a chance to talk to the American people openly and tell them that?”

3) Bush misled the American people, and the world, about his “justification” for going to war in Iraq.
David Kay, who led American effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, said last week that it was time for the Bush administration to “come clean with the American people and admit it was wrong” when it claimed that such weapons existed. In January he told a Senate committee that “we were almost all wrong… I was more worried that we were still sending teams out to search for things that we were increasingly convinced were not there.” Kay’s assessment confirms the judgment of everyone else that has investigated the administration’s pre-war justifications for invasion. Indeed, under the circumstances “wrong” seems like a mild conclusion; “blatantly lying” seems more appropriate.

4) Bush has turned a record budget surplus into a record budget deficit, all in order to fund massive tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations.
Further damaging the notion that conservatives know how to balance a budget, Bush has squandered the large fiscal surplus that was handed to him when he came into power. The United States now faces a record-breaking federal deficit of $521 billion in 2004, and the non-partisan congressional budget office has projected that it could increase to $2.4 trillion by 2014. According to Bush, “The reason we are in deficit is we went through a recession, we were attacked and we are fighting a war. These are high hurdles for a budget and a country to overcome.” But, anyone with basic numeracy skills could tell that the deficit has more to do with $87.5 billion being allocated to the war in Iraq and $1.7 trillion in tax cuts.

5) Bush has sought to gain political points by pandering to hatred and prejudice.
On the heals of court decisions and other advances for same sex couples seeking equality, Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages. “Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we're to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America,” Bush said. Constitutional amendments have historically been used to extend rights, not to restrict them (the major exception being prohibition… and we know how well that worked). As Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe put it, “It is wrong to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution, and it is shameful to use attacks against gay and lesbian families as an election strategy.” Moreover, it is worth noting that Bush had no problem being appointed President by an “activist court”.

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