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The Wartime President

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Now he has gone too far. George W. Bush, in the name of protecting our freedoms, has trampled one of the most basic ones. He has authorized warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens at home. Bush has always fancied himself a wartime president and now the reason is clear: Bush thinks that as a wartime president he can do anything he wants.

Still, no other president has brought so many wars on himself. Bush may think of himself in a league with Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt. But in trying to place himself there, this president has shown that he’s in a league of his own: the Bush league.

Consider some of King George’s other wars over the past five long years:

• The War on Terror – The attacks on 9/11 gave rise to the War on Terror. Where does it stand 4 years later? Hopelessly bogged down with no strategy, no clear enemy, and no end in sight. Where in the world is Osama bin Laden? I know it must be difficult to track down a 6’9” Arab pushing a portable dialysis machine through the mountains in Afghanistan. But Bush is no stranger to hard work.

• The War on Iraq – This is different from the War on Terror. Bush started this one because he didn’t know what else to do after 9/11 and because Saddam Hussein was a jerk anyway. Status now: a muddled strategy, no winnable objective, no end in sight. With $230 billion squandered, 2,300 lives and 30,000 Iraqi lost, this is Bush’s Vietnam. Bush could have learned from Vietnam if he had been sober enough at the time to know there was a war going on.

• The War on Pornography – This is not a war on child exploitation, bestiality, or graphic scenes of rape and murder. No, this is a war on plain old porn, the kind that consenting adults watch in the privacy of their homes. Who will the czar in this war be? Maybe it will be Mary Carey, the Republican porn star who attended a Bush fundraiser in June. Or a reconstructed Jimmy Swaggart, who seems to know a thing or two about the subject himself.

• The War on Immigration – Bush hangs tough on this one even though immigration has been down every year since 2000. But then, who wants to come here anymore? “Give me your tired, your poor …”. We did that, George. You let them drown in their attics.

• The War on Patriotism – In classic Bush doublespeak, this war is given life by the USA Patriot Act. Are you concerned about your free speech, privacy, or freedom of association? Your government is too and stands ready to help by monitoring everything you say, think, or do and everyone you do it with. And how many enemies of the state have been successfully prosecuted under this draconian Act? Why, none … but that only shows how effective it has been.

• The War on the Elderly – Also known as Social Security reform. While Social Security reform is a battle lost, the War on the Elderly may be won yet, thanks to the new prescription drug benefit.

• The War on the Federal Surplus – A definite if dubious win for Bush. He came into office with a $350 billion surplus and in five years ran up a $450 billion deficit. How in the world does one blow through $800 billion in five years? That’s over $5,400 a second, every second since noon on January 20, 2001. But hey, wars cost money.

• The War on Taxes – The War on the Surplus started even before Bush was elected, with one of the most brilliant political deceptions in the history of the Republic: buying people’s votes with their own money. Candidate Bush campaigned on the promise that if we voted for him, we would all receive a tax rebate because, “after all, it’s your money! ” If that’s not vote-buying, I don’t know what it is. Curiously, he still did not get a majority of the votes.

• The War on Wellness – There are now 45 million American citizens without health insurance and with effectively no access to the health care system. The number grows at more than a million persons a year with no end in sight. Heaven help is if there’s an avian flu pandemic.

• The War on Sovereignty – Congress recently enacted several laws designed to curb sex tourism. While that is an admirable thing to do, it should have been done through the United Nations. Instead, US law enforcement can now enforce US laws on US citizens anywhere in the world. How long will it be before we attempt to enforce our laws on other countries’ citizens inside their own borders?

• The War on the Rest of the World – This war was declared with the recess-appointment of John Bolton as UN Ambassador. The message was simple: “Be like us, ya bunch of furriners and towelheads, or we’ll blast your asses to Kingdom come. In the name of God we will.”

• The War on Kids – AKA “No Child Left Behind.” This well-meaning law ensures that schools will be closed if their special ed students and non-native speakers of English cannot spell “antidisestablishmentarianism” or solve rudimentary problems in thermodynamics. Maybe NCLB should be “No Child Like Bush” – there’s an idea that more of us can endorse, and he can’t spell antidisestablishmentarianism now.

• The War on the Weather – A definite win for Mother Nature. Bush should just outsource emergency management to Wal-Mart and FedEx, and then swoop into New Orleans on an air boat to declare “Mission Accomplished”.

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Rick Wise is an industrial psychologist and retired management consultant. For 15 years, he was managing director of ValueNet International, Inc. Before starting ValueNet, Rick was director, corporate training and, later, director, corporate (more...)
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