February 23, 2004
The True Lies of George W. Bush
BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
When Democrats accuse George W. Bush of being a liar, Republicans -- and until recently, the media -- have responded that Bush is a man of integrity whom you can trust at his word. It was the evil Bill Clinton who lied. Remember him wagging his finger at us? That bastard!
Well, yes, Bill Clinton did indeed lie to us. He lied to us about a blow-job. It sure is good that we spent nearly $100 million to find out how semen reacts on a cotton blue dress from the Gap. Of course, it turned out that he was telling the truth to us about Whitewater and filegate and travelgate and campaign finance-gate and gate-gate and more. I'm sure we could find better uses for that money today. But, Clinton certainly did lie about that hummer. Imagine that, a man lying about sex. In America no less.
Of course, unlike another president, Clinton's lies didn't kill anyone.
Anyway, I decided to put just a short list together of lies by George W. Bush. These are not banal lies about one's sex life, these are big lies, whoppers and tall tales about his own record, who he is, what he's done and what he stands for.
1. The Iraq War.
We could really start and end with this one, since this lie has killed and wounded thousands of American soldiers and countless Iraqi men women and children. But this one certainly does not stand alone.
Let's break this out into subcategories as well, such as:
I could go on and on, but we've got even more real hardcore, honest to goodness, Grade A lies to address.
2. Taxes (part 1)
Bush has consistently claimed that he is against tax increases. Yet, as Governor, his 1997 tax plan would have forced tens of thousands of business to pay franchise taxes that previously did not have to pay. According to the GOP School of Taxes playbook, that's a tax increase, no if ands or buts about it.
3. Taxes (part 2)
Throughout the 2000 campaign and through 2001, Bush claimed that his mega tax cut for the mega rich was actually a tax cut for the working folks. In fact, he said "the vast majority" would go to "the bottom." As Al Franken has so ably pointed out, "by far the vast majority" usually means more than 14.7 percent that the bottom 60 percent received. Consider that "fuzzy math."
4. Taxes (part 3)
In 2003, Bush claimed his latest sop to the uber-wealthy would create jobs. In fact, the special interest, Rockefeller tax cut was -- in true Orwellian fashion -- named the Jobs and Growth Act of 2003. Someone wake me when those 2.6 million jobs Bush promised in 2004 start being created. He needs to create around 300,000 jobs a month through Election Day to reach his pledge.
5. Taxes (part 4)
Bush, who tried to extend taxes to thousands of businesses and not call it a tax increase, now claims that if his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are not made permanent, that is a tax increase. Now, remember, the law as written says those taxes automatically phase out if nothing is changed. Bush now says if the law as written -- the law he signed -- is not changed, that is a tax increase.
6. "I fulfilled my duty."
"He didn't take his flight physical because his doctor was in Houston." The entire National Guard spin is falling apart before our eyes. The facts of the issue have remained the same, but the Bush Team's laughable responses become "inoperable" by the day. Despite their ever-angrier denials, the issue won't go away. Last Friday night's document dump and run still hasn't answered the key question: where were you during the war, George? At least 1972. You can say it's "trolling for trash" all you want, but you can't make the issue go away without some proof.
7. "I'm a uniter not a divider"
Bush's 2000 mantra -- bought hook, line and sinker by much of the media -- was that only he could come to Washington and end the partisan bickering. Within weeks, this proved to be completely untrue. His heavy-handed partisanship even cost him control of the U.S. Senate for a time, as Republican Jim Jeffords bolted the party.
In 2002, Bush showed his unifying skills by saying that Democrats who disagreed with his behemoth vision for the Department of Homeland Security -- a plan he had opposed for nearly a year -- "didn't care about the security of the country." You know, guys like Senator Tom Daschle, who was actually a terrorist target. He then thanked Max Cleland and Mary Landrieu for their steadfast support by targeting them and backing opponents who questioned their patriotism and, in Louisiana, sent out mailers to black neighborhoods with the wrong election date.
Well, Bush is a uniter in one way: He has united the Democratic Party like never before, and is driving independents back to the Democratic Party in droves. Please, keep uniting us.
8. The 2004 budget.
From front to back, the latest Bush budget is one of the most fraudulent documents ever created by the U.S. government. Well, at least since the last budget. Like 2003, Bush doesn't count the cost of Iraq or Afghanistan into his fantasy land accounting. He also counts in billions of spending cuts that are flat out pipe dreams that even the GOP won't support. According to the White House, the deficit -- which has gone from hundreds of billions in the black to $518 billon in the red in just three short years -- will be cut in half. This from an administration that has overestimated growth and underestimated projected deficits each year. But, according to George, prosperity truly is just around the corner.
9. "I won't run a deficit."
During the 2000 campaign, Bush responded to those who -- quite correctly -- said his voodoo economic plan would drive us right back into the gutter that he would not operate a deficit. He said that he was "a governor. I believe in balanced budgets." Yes, the same way kids believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny.
10. "I hit the trifecta."
Following our steady plummet back into deficit land, Bush used the handy excuse of "the trifecta": war, national emergency and recession. He explained away his past statements that he wouldn't run a deficit by claiming he had made an exception for those three things. Of course, he never actually said that. Paul Begala, Al Franken, Paul Krugman, Joe Conason and others have all reviewed every statement printed during the 2000 campaign and Bush never made any such qualification. Of course, why should we hold them to what he actually said? As Larry Speakes, Ronald Reagan's press secretary once said, "No it wasn't true, but it sure sounded good."
11. "I released all my National Guard records in 2000."
On Meet the Press, Bush once again fell back to his standard behavior when confronted with an uncomfortable subject: he lied his ass off. Four years after reporters first asked him to release his records -- and a nearly a week after he promised to -- Bush finally followed in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy, John McCain, John Kerry, Bob Kerrey and Wes Clark and released his full military record.
12. "I'm spending less than Bill Clinton."
On Meet the Press, an interview that will go down in history as one of the stupidest decisions Karl Rove has ever made, Bush claimed that government spending has actually dropped under his tenure. Even GOP stalwarts ran away from this one faster than Rush Limbaugh runs to a bowlful of Oxycontins. The truth of the matter is that federal spending has exploded under George W., just as spending exploded in Texas while he was governor. This fella just ain't your daddy's fiscal conservative.
Here is a great quote on Bush's spending:
"His dramatic increase in the size and spending of the federal government with a record deficit. With his $2.23 trillion budget, his administration will complete the biggest increase in government spending since Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society." The budget deficit predicted by the House Budget Office will hit a record $306 billion. Spending on government programs increased 22% from 1999 to 2003. A Washington Post report said, "The era of big government, if it ever went away, has returned full-throttle under President Bush." Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey commented that under President Bush, the federal government is "out of control."" The source? Liberal media publication Intellectual Conservative in an article entitled "Why Christians Should Not Vote for George W. Bush", February 15, 2004.
13. Free Trade.
George W. Bush supports free trade. That's why he slapped tariffs on imported steel. Of course, had the potentially affected steel mills been located in New York instead of Pennsylvania -- a state he hopes to win in 2004 -- Bush would still be a pure free trader.
Last week, the Bush Administration claimed that the outsourcing of high-paying U.S. jobs to other countries "is a good thing." N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, wrote a report saying exactly that. He then reiterated his belief in the wonderful attributes of Americans losing their jobs at a press briefing on the report. Once again, Republicans are fleeing from this statement as fast as they can. So is George Bush, who immediately ran to Pennsylvania to promise 2.6 million jobs by the end of the year. Unfortunately, Mankiw is Bush's hand-picked employee -- and the president has already signed the report.
As Senator Tom Harkin said: "Under George Bush, America has a new #1 export: jobs."
15. "No one could have imagined them hijacking airplanes."
Of all the lies, this one might be the most annoying. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice made this claim repeatedly during the summer of 2002. Nevermind that Ramsey Yousef, one of the masterminds of the original attack on the World Trade Center, had his plot to hijack and crash 12 airplanes foiled by U.S. and foreign intelligence agents...in 1995. It was big news then, but apparently didn't make it all the way out to Stanford University. Rice's deceit was completely exposed in 2002 when details of the President's Daily Intelligence Briefing in August 2001 revealed that CIA and other sources warned the administration of just such hijackings. But she is never called on this or other lies when she makes her media rounds.
16. Air Force One was a target.
While everyone remembers and praises Bush's appearance with firefighters in New York City, the White House -- and the press -- conveniently ignore the actual timeline of events. That meeting took place on September 14, 2001. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, the entire New York congressional delegation and, of course, Rudy Gulliani, had been on the scene for days, Rudy and Bill since almost minute one. On September 11, 2001, after he was notified of both the first and second plane crashes, it took nearly an hour for Bush to depart Florida. But, he did not go to Washington, or even make a statement in Florida. No, first he flew to an Air Force Base in Louisiana; then, to the safety of a bunker in Nebraska. He told Americans it was safe, while he was entombed.
Many criticized his absence, most notably Peter Jennings who asked "Where is the President." To combat such criticism, the Bush White House claimed that they zig-zagged across the country because of a "credible threat" against Air Force One. Nearly a year later, they were forced to admit that they had, in fact, received no such threat.
Now, I am not necessarily criticizing Bush's flight itinerary on 9/11/01. Keeping the President safe was the top priority and they rightly took steps to ensure his safety. So why not just say that and be done with it? Why did the White House have to put out another lie to try to make themselves look heroic? Because that's what they do.
17. Bill Clinton pillaged the White House as he walked out the door.
Well, according to the General Accounting Office in yet another investigation that spent our tax dollars, the allegations of looting just weren't true. Was there some damage and pranks? Of course, just as there are in every transition. But widespread damage? No, it wasn't true, but it sure sounded good.
18. Leave No Child Behind.
The president's key education initiative is a well-intentioned attempt to change education in the United States. It could lead to real changes, if Bush had actually funded the plan rather than treat it as a nice photo op to show he really cared.
According to Senator Edward Kennedy, the author of the legislation and Bush's main prop in 2001, "in the two years since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, the Bush Administration has cut its funding, reneged on promised resources for better teachers and smaller classes, and worked to divert millions of dollars to private school vouchers... President Bush's new budget for 2005 will leave over 4.6 million children behind. Still pending before Congress is President Bush's 2004 budget which provides schools with over $7.5 billion less than promised in the No Child Left Behind Act. And there is every expectation that the President will propose again not only to cut resources for public school reform, but to divert scarce public education dollars to private schools."
19. Cost of the Medicare Bill.
Oops! They must have forgot to carry the one...or they are just liars. In fall 2003, Bush sold his Medicare budget with some interesting numbers: it would only cost $400 billion over 10 years. Now keep in mind that passage of this plan was in extreme doubt, as Democrats opposed the plan as a joke that would cost too much and do too little, while Republicans complained that, well, it cost way too much. The Bush Team assured everyone that it would cost no more than $400 million and the plan passed the House by a razor thin margin.
Lo and behold, they snookered us again. Just a few months later, the plan now costs $540 billion, with more sure to be added as the plan actually begins the implementation process.
20. Ken Lay.
After the Enron scandal hit full force, Bush tried to downplay his relationship with Ken Lay by saying "he gave money to my opponent" Ann Richards. Suddenly Lay, whom Bush had previously called "Kenny Boy," didn't' ring a bell. Despite the fact that Enron was Bush's #1 contributor from 94-00, the fact that Bush was flown around the campaign trail in 1998 on Lay's private plane, and Lay's status as a Pioneer (and serious contender for Commerce Secretary) Bush and he really weren't that close. Maybe that's why Martha Stewart is on trial and not Ken Lay.
(By the way, does it strike anyone as odd that Martha is being tried for almost exactly what George W. Bush did when he left Harken Energy?)
21. I'm against Nation Building.
Throughout the 2000 campaign, Bush assailed Clinton's successful military forays in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo, saying he opposed "nation building." Today, see Afghanistan; see Iraq. In fairness, when you look at the deteriorating situations in both countries, it is clear that Bush is not really doing any nation "building" right now. He has ignored the reconstruction of Afghanistan (famously forgetting to fund it in his 2003 budget. Sorry about that Mr. Karzai!) and he has, to put it diplomatically, completely screwed the pooch in Iraq by ignoring the possible resistance to a U.S. occupation, handing over the reconstruction to corporate cronies like Halliburton and the reigns of power to unpopular sycophants like Ahmed Chalabi. Disaster looms where we can least afford to fail.
22. "I remember that sign from the Old West: Wanted Dead or Alive."
Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, Cowboy Bush repeatedly strapped on his star and gave us his best John Wayne impersonation, essentially guaranteeing that we would take out Osama bin Laden. Now, Bush says of capturing bin Laden: "I have no idea" (Meet the Press, February 8, 2004). What would John Wayne say?
23. We're safer now that Saddam is caught.
Howard Dean was ridiculed for questioning this platitude, but he is right. Hopefully we will be safer, but that outcome is certainly not assured. Not if Iran is stronger in the region and Iraq splits apart, divided into three warring factions, any of which could destabilize Turkey, Syria or Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, scores of Al Qaeda fighters have streamed into Iraq since the war began, an outcome we had sought to avoid by taking Hussein out.
For the present, I think we should ask the boys and girls being shot at if they feel more or less safe since December.
24. I was never arrested after 1972 -- unless you count that DWI. Err, those two DWIs.
Bush reportedly told the Dallas Morning News in 1999 that he was never arrested after 1972. Of course, as we all learned, he was arrested for drunk driving in 1978, with his younger sister and Australian tennis star John Newcombe, in the car. According to NBC News, Bush was also arrested for another DWI in Midland after 1972. Are his arrests the big deal? No, but his constant lying about them sure goes to character, don't you think?
25. I supported the Patient Protection Act.
During the 2000 presidential debates, Bush claimed he supported the Patient Protection Act and the Patient's Bill of Rights. I almost fell on the floor, especially since Al Gore, standing mere feet away, did not call him on one of the most obvious lies in campaign history. This one was actually well-explored by the media, but Gore let this meatball glide harmlessly over the plate without taking the bat off of his shoulder.
The truth is Bush vetoed the Patient Protection Act in 1995 and let the Patient's Bill of Rights -- landmark legislation that became the model for other states and the federal government --become law without his signature. So, if by support you mean "opposed and tried to kill", then yes, you supported them.
26. "I signed the hate crimes bill".
Another juicy whopper. Now Bush had won re-election mere months before with nearly 70 of the vote. If he wanted a bill passed, he got it. But, Bush ordered his legislative minions to kill the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, less than one year after the most gruesome hate murder of the post-Civil Rights era. The guy who was the leader in killing the bill? State Senator David Sibley (R-Waco), a man who had supported the same legislation just a few years earlier. You might recognize Sibley; he's the guy you see driving Bush's golf cart whenever Bush is back in Crawford playing golf.
27. I want to get to the bottom of the Plame leak.
Following the sliming of Ambassador Joseph Wilson for exposing the Nigerian "yellow cake" lie, and the outing of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent, Bush said it was "a very serious matter" and that he wanted to get to the bottom of it. But he never ordered his staff to do anything about it. Since very few members of the White House would have had the clearance to even know that Plame was an operative, and even fewer are even allowed to make eye contact with, much less to talk to the media, it shouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to find the culprit here. Instead, he actually lamented that "we may never know" who did it because Washington is full of leakers. Thankfully, after cajoling from Democrats forced Attorney General John "Inspector Clouseau" Ashcroft to recuse himself from the investigation, it appears that we may actually discover who is behind this act of treason. Scooter Libby, your lawyer is on the line.
28. "I will fight the war on terror."
This claim, unfortunately, is also debatable. Just when we had "smoked them out of their holes and got them on the run" our intelligence services and our military were forced to change their focus from fighting Al Qaeda to invading Iraq, letting bin Laden off the hook. In addition, despite numerous reports on the vulnerability of our ports, little has been done to make them more secure from terrorism. Also, despite a serious congressional study, media scrutiny and an on-going non-partisan investigation, little has changed regarding how our intelligence is gathered and analyzed to avoid making the same mistakes. In fact, little has changed beyond making several bureaucracies into one huge bureaucracy under the banner of the Department of Homeland Security. And, in perhaps the most bizarre example of sleeping at the wheel, the 2004 Bush budget offers no funding for biothreat detection at Post Offices. This after the White House said they foiled a mail attack to the White House last year and days before Ricin was mailed to Senator Bill "Cat Murderer" Frist's office.
Well, that's my list. Please add to it, as it is far from all-inclusive.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST COMMENTARY
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