Mudcat Café message #1384457 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1384457
Posted By: Amos
21-Jan-05 - 12:46 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
The differing views of Bush's Inaugural address (actually his first -- the earlier event was just a gussied up eviction notice) are interesting in the range of their opinions.

William Safire, an adamant Bushite, qwrites in the New York Times:

Yesterday's strongly thematic address was indeed "the freedom speech." Not only did the words "freedom, free, liberty" appear 49 times, but the president used the world-watched occasion to expound his basic reason for the war and his vision of America's mission in the world.

I rate it among the top 5 of the 20 second-inaugurals in our history. Lincoln's profound sermon "with malice toward none" is incomparable, but Bush's second was better than Jefferson's mean-spirited pouting at "the artillery of the press."

In Bush's "second gathering" (Lincoln called it his "second appearing"), the Texan evoked J.F.K.'s "survival of liberty" phrase to convey his central message: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." Bush repeated that internationalist human-rights idea, with a slight change, in these words: "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

The change in emphasis was addressed to accommodationists who make "peace" and "the peace process" the No. 1 priority of foreign policy. Others of us - formerly known as hardliners, now called Wilsonian idealists - put freedom first, recalling that the U.S. has often had to go to war to gain and preserve it. Bush makes clear that it is human liberty, not peace, that takes precedence, and that it is tyrants who enslave peoples, start wars and provoke revolution. Thus, the spread of freedom is the prerequisite to world peace.

It takes guts to take on that peace-freedom priority so starkly. Bush, by retaliatory and pre-emptive decisions in his first term - and by his choice of words and his tall stance in this speech, and despite his unmodulated delivery - now drives his critics batty by exuding a buoyant confidence reminiscent of F.D.R. and Truman.

He promised to use America's influence "confidently in freedom's cause." He jabbed at today's Thomases: "Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty, though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt."

Bush has seen the enemy and it is not us. Nor is it only a group of nations (the "axis of evil"). Nor is the prime enemy the tactic of terrorism.

The president identified the enemy (and did not euphemize it, as Nixon's writers did, as "the adversary") a half-dozen times in this speech. The archenemy of freedom, now as ever, is tyranny.



Another New York Times writer, a bit more sensitive tot he inherent contradictions (not to say hypocrisies) of the moment, Bob Herbert, decries the gala extravagance in the face of blood, toil, death and misery to which the party-goers seemed immune and disconnected:

"Dancing the War Away
By BOB HERBERT

Published: January 21, 2005



Watching the inaugural ceremonies yesterday reminded me of the scenes near the end of "The Godfather" in which a solemn occasion (a baptism in the movie) is interspersed with a series of spectacularly violent murders.

Even as President Bush was taking the oath of office and delivering his Inaugural Address beneath the clear, cold skies of Washington, the news wires were churning out stories about the tragic mayhem in Iraq. There is no end in sight to the carnage, which was unleashed nearly two years ago by President Bush's decision to launch this wholly unnecessary war, one of the worst presidential decisions in American history.

Incredibly, with more than 1,360 American troops dead and more than 10,000 wounded, and with scores of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded, the president never once mentioned the word Iraq in his Inaugural Address. He avoided all but the most general references to the war. Lyndon Johnson used to agonize over the war that unraveled his presidency. Mr. Bush, riding the crest of his re-election wave, seems not to be similarly bothered.

In January 1945, with World War II still raging, Franklin Roosevelt insisted on a low-key inauguration. Already gravely ill, he began his address by saying, "Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will understand and, I believe, agree with my wish that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief."

Times have changed. President Bush and his equally tone-deaf supporters spent the past few days partying hard while Americans, Iraqis and others continued to suffer and die in the Iraq conflagration. Nothing was too good for the princes and princesses of the new American plutocracy. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on fireworks, cocktail receptions, gala dinners and sumptuous balls.

Ten thousand people, including the president and Laura Bush, turned out Wednesday night for the Black Tie and Boots Ball. According to The Associated Press, one of the guests, Lorian Sessions of San Antonio, "donned a new pair of black kangaroo boots, decorated with a white star and embroidery, with an aqua-colored mink wrap she bought on sale at Saks."

An article in The Washington Post mentioned a peace activist who complained that the money lavished on the balls would have been better spent on body armor for under-equipped troops in Iraq.

As the well-heeled Bush crowd was laughing and dancing in tuxedos and designer gowns, the situation in Iraq was deteriorating to new levels of horror. The Black Tie and Boots Ball was held on the same day that 26 people were killed in five powerful car and truck bombs in Baghdad. With the elections just a week and a half away, American commanders, according to John F. Burns of The Times, are seeking "to prepare public opinion in Iraq and abroad for one of the bloodiest chapters in the war so far."




Meanwhile, ignoring the fine gaseous fiber of non-inspiring groundless generalizations, another Times writer excoriates the double-talk and falsity inherent in the Social Security attack:

The Free Lunch Bunch
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: January 21, 2005



Did they believe they would be welcomed as liberators? Administration plans to privatize Social Security have clearly run into unexpected opposition. Even Republicans are balking; Representative Bill Thomas says that the initial Bush plan will soon be a "dead horse."

That may be overstating it, but for privatizers the worst is yet to come. If people are rightly skeptical about claims that Social Security faces an imminent crisis, just wait until they start looking closely at the supposed solution.

President Bush is like a financial adviser who tells you that at the rate you're going, you won't be able to afford retirement - but that you shouldn't do anything mundane like trying to save more. Instead, you should take out a huge loan, put the money in a mutual fund run by his friends (with management fees to be determined later) and place your faith in capital gains.

That, once you cut through all the fine phrases about an "ownership society," is how the Bush privatization plan works. Payroll taxes would be diverted into private accounts, forcing the government to borrow to replace the lost revenue. The government would make up for this borrowing by reducing future benefits; yet workers would supposedly end up better off, in spite of reduced benefits, through the returns on their accounts.

The whole scheme ignores the most basic principle of economics: there is no free lunch.




There's no question that George and Laura are having a rich and wonderful time of it. See them dance?

Those on whose backs they are climbing -- the wounded, the lamed, the beggared, the dead, and the morally traumatized who carried out George's will -- they are not doing so well. Taking the failed war on terror and re-casting it in the golden garb of high-flown ideals like "exporting liberty" doesn't do a thing to change this fundamental inequity. It just makes the falsehoods more glaring, the incompetence more actionable, and the duplicity more immoral.

A