Bill Press, "Author
of Bush Must Go: The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesn't Deserve a
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
There are just too many reasons to count why the American people need to give George W. Bush a pink slip this November. To make it easy for you, Bill Press, a progressive pundit and author, has synthesized the most important reasons in a well- documented and enlightening book that makes the irrefutable argument that George Bush needs to be fired.
His new book, "Bush Must Go: The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesnít Deserve A Second Term" will
make you laugh at the foolish and inept Bush presidency and weep for your
country at the same time. For those who want to arm themselves with the
facts on Bushís appalling record, Bill Press offers an arsenal of information.
But Press admonishes people to not just read the book and become more informed,
but to use what they know and take their country back.
Press is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist whose weekly
column is distributed by Tribune Media Services to newspapers across the
country. He is the former co-host, with Pat Buchanan, of MSNBCís "Buchanan and Press." Press was co-host of "Crossfire," CNNís dynamic political debate program, for six years. At CNN, he also co-hosted "The Spin Room" with
Tucker Carlson. Press is the author of Spin This!: All the Ways We Don't
Tell the Truth, in which he explores the culture of spin.
Press has received numerous awards for his work, including four Emmys and
a Golden Mike Award. He was named "Best Commentator of the Year" by the
Associated Press in 1992.
This is our second BuzzFlash interview with Bill Press, and, yes, we will be offering his new book as a premium.
* * *
BuzzFlash: You wrote in the book that the 2004 presidential election is not about whether you like Bush better than Kerry. The election of 2004 is about one thing only -- it is a referendum on George Bushís record. Explain that a little bit more for our readers, since a lot of people would say that John Kerry should be spending more of his time campaigning and defining his vision for America.
Bill Press: I agree that John Kerry ought to be more outspoken on the war in Iraq. I think he should be a lot stronger in calling for American troops to get out of Iraq. I think he should be a lot stronger taking on George W. Bush. However, that being said, this election, more than anything else, is a referendum on the record of George W. Bush.
At any level -- city council, school board, state legislature, Congress, or the presidency -- when an incumbent is running for reelection, the election is really a referendum on that personís record, as it is this year with George W. Bush. Itís just like in our own lives. You may hire somebody in your business under a four-year contract. At the end of the four years, the question is: We hired this guy four years ago. Has he done a good enough job that we want to give him another four years? The answer with George W. Bush is absolutely not. Weíve given him a chance. Weíve shown that heís not up to the job. Heís taken this country in some very dangerous directions overseas and at home, and we canít afford another four years of George W. Bush. Thatís what this election is all about.
John Kerry almost can just stand there and do nothing -- I donít want him to, but he could -- and people will vote up or down on George W. Bush, not up or down on John Kerry.
BuzzFlash: Do you think that it is possible for a candidate -- any candidate, even someone who epitomizes image over substance, such as George W. Bush -- to completely run away from their record?
Bill Press: Itís possible for a candidate to run away from his record; we just canít let him get away with it. Thereís no doubt the Bush White House wants this election to be about anything but George Bushís record. Thatís why theyíve spent the first $125 million not talking about Bushís record, but attacking John Kerryís war record, attacking his military honors, attacking his service to his country. The White House knows if the election is about the economy, if the election is about the war in Iraq, if the election is about the war on terror, or if the election is about health care or education, or gay rights or womenís rights or civil rights, the American people will reject George Bush wholeheartedly. So they are trying to change the subject. John Kerry canít let them get away with it, and neither can the rest of us.
BuzzFlash: In your book, the number one reason why Bush must go is the lies used to invade Iraq, especially when there was no imminent threat to the United States. You stated: ďOver a year later, the Iraq war is still a war in search of a reason.Ē And the latest spin that Bush has claimed is that the war was about removing Saddam and liberating the people of Iraq. But since the American military is, by all accounts, bogged down, and the violence continues to escalate, how do you think that will play with the electorate? Will Bush be held accountable?
Bill Press: Well, first of all, I think if President Bush chose to, he could have persuaded, or made his case to the American people, that the Iraq war was necessary for humanitarian reasons. He could have, if he chose to, been able to make the case that Saddam Hussein is such a tyrant, is so abusive of his own people, that we have no choice but to liberate them. But that is not the case that Bush made. He never talked about that.
What he talked about was weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, a connection with Osama bin Laden, and a direct threat to the United States. Go back and look at the record, as I do in the book. Those are the arguments he gave, and they were very strong on those points. Paul Wolfowitz himself, the intellectual architect of the war, said -- Iím paraphrasing, I have the exact quotes in the book -- yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but that was not reason enough to put American lives at risk. We went because of weapons of mass destruction.
So first of all, you have to understand the entire case for the war was fraudulent. I donít think a president can do anything worse as chief executive officer of this country than to mislead and, in effect, to lie this nation into war. Then the war being over, their last argument was: This is going to be a piece of cake. Weíre going to be greeted with rose petals. Weíre going to be greeted as liberators. Clearly, we can see that was another lie. Every day, more Americans are killed in Iraq. We are an unwelcome occupying army. I think that as long as that continues -- and I donít see the situation improving -- the American people will and should hold George Bush responsible, number one, for taking us into an unnecessary war, and number two, for unnecessarily putting our sons and daughters at risk as an occupying army.
BuzzFlash: Youíve written a ďjust the facts, maíamĒ kind of a book focusing
on Bushís dismal record. I believe readers will find it a wonderful resource.
But I also found it quite funny. For example the Bush administration lists the
nation of Palau as one of the countries of the "coalition of the willing." Palau
joined Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands, Iceland, Micronesia and the Solomon
Islands as ďsix countries with essentially no army to speak of being listed
in Bushís coalition of the willing in support of the Iraq war.Ē Bushís failure
in international diplomacy speaks for itself when countries without a military
are part of the big coalition supporting the war effort.
Bill Press: The whole coalition of the willing is a joke, but itís a sick joke. I mean, the joke is on us. It just showed to me how desperate George Bush is, or how far heís willing to go in lying to the American people. He has even said that his coalition of the willing is bigger than the coalition that his father put together for Desert Storm, the first Iraq war. That is simply not the case. Daddy Bush put together a big coalition, every member of which put troops on the ground in Iraq, and 80 percent of the costs of that war were paid for by our allies. With George W. Bush, really only two countries put their troops on the ground -- England, with about 34,000, and Australia, with about 2,000. The U.S. Army put all the rest on there -- some 250,000 to 300,000 at one point.
The other members of the coalition of the willing were people who did nothing more than sign a letter. My favorite example is the country of Morocco, which volunteered to send 2,000 monkeys to assist with land mines. Their offer was not accepted, but theyíre still listed on the coalition of the willing. Itís just totally, totally absurd. This was a unilateral U.S. war, with the only person alongside of us being Tony Blair.
BuzzFlash: One of the most appalling facts about the Bush administration -- and you list so many of them -- is the poll that you quote from Time magazine in October of 2002 that found 71 percent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks. The media donít ask the next logical question or note that such an appalling disconnect with reality doesnít happen by accident.
Bill Press: It doesnít happen by accident. I should maybe have made this clear at the beginning of our interview, but what I tried to do in this book was really document all the evil that George W. Bush has done over the last three-and-a-half years and make the case why it is absolutely essential that he be thrown out of office and not given a second term. You hear a lot about Bush hating. I donít hate George Bush, and itís not enough for any of us to hate George Bush. We have to know why his presidency has been so dangerous for the American people, and why we canít let him have a second term.
One of the reasons that I keep coming back to in many chapters is the fact that this administration does not tell the truth. If you listened to George W. Bush talking about Saddam Hussein and connecting 9/11 and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence, which he has done hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, and still does today, itís no wonder that 71 percent of the American people end up believing the big lie because he says it often enough. There are some people who probably believe Saddam Hussein was one of the pilots that flew a plane into the World Trade Center. The rest of us, I think, have an obligation to be a truth squad and to point out these lies, and to tell people the truth, which is what I try to do in the book.
BuzzFlash: Would you say that the strongest pillars holding up the Bush administration are the perpetual references to September 11 and the ongoing fear campaign and terror alerts?
Bill Press: I was on a panel at a security conference the other day, and I learned a new expression. Itís an expression that some software manufacturers use to get people to buy new software to protect their computer from identity theft. The expression is: FUD -- F-U-D -- fear, uncertainty and doubt. I believe FUD is the operative word for the Bush administration. They intend to win this election by scaring people to death.
Thatís why John Ashcroft comes out every three months -- even though Tom Ridge says theyíre not necessary -- and issues a new terror alert. They are trying to sell FUD in the minds of the American people to scare the shit out of people so that theyíll be so frightened, so wound up about this war on terror, that they will rally around their president and vote him back into office. I think thatís their only hope. Theyíve got one card that theyíre playing for this election. Itís the war on terror/war on Iraq summed up as FUD.
BuzzFlash: One of the reasons that you give is that Bush has made the United States less safe from terrorism.
Bill Press: Thatís the second reason. I think the war on Iraq overall is number one on the list of what he should be held responsible for. By the way, he insists that the war in Iraq is part and parcel of the war on terror, which I reject completely; thereís no connection between the two. But Bush says weíre winning the war on terror, we have the terrorists on the run. I think it is just the opposite. The fact is that he started the war on terror. We went into Afghanistan, where I supported him. Took out the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, where I supported him. And then he dropped the ball. He made this huge diversion to Iraq, which has nothing to do with the war on terror, but which resulted in giving the terrorists more time to regroup, more time to rebuild, more time to plan new attacks, and which also inspired, if you will, a whole new generation of terrorists who see the United States now as the enemy and will do whatever they can to go after us. Heís generated more terrorism, not less. Heís made us less safe, not more.
BuzzFlash: I agree. Thank you for writing about something that everyone seems to have forgotten about or just given up on, and that is correcting the myth that Bush inherited a recession immediately upon taking office. In fact, although the economy wasnít soaring, it wasnít a recession either. Most people forget this, but Bush and Cheney claimed we were in a recession the second they were put into office. They use that as justification for why Congress needed to pass the first run of tax cuts -- to jump-start the economy. The results were we blew the surplus and started our descent into fiscal hell with record deficits and skyrocketing national debt. Looking back on those events that happened just when they took office, itís interesting because they were willing to even talk down the economy to get their agenda through. The economy is so much a psychological phenomenon, especially in terms of consumer confidence. What would you say were some other examples on the economic front for why Bush and Cheney should be fired?
Bill Press: Well, again, if you followed the big lie theory, it applies in Iraq, it applies in the war on terror, and it applies when it comes to the economy. And the recession is example number one. The fact is, under Bill Clinton, we had the eight most prosperous years in the history of this country, the longest period of sustained economic growth in the period of this country. He left us with a projected $5 trillion surplus. George Bush has turned that into a $5 trillion deficit. Thatís a shift of $10 trillion in national wealth in this country, which is just astounding.
The Department of Treasury said the recession began in March 2001. That was three months after George Bush took office. It did not begin under Bill Clinton. The only thing we saw in the last days of Bill Clinton was a correction in the market. The market had really soared. It had started to go down a little bit. Bush came in. He pushed through his tax cuts. By March, we were in a recession. And by August, we were back in deficit spending. Thatís how fast George Bush wrecked the Clinton economy. Of course, he tries to blame it all on Bill Clinton. Again, itís just part of the big lie theory.
The other lie is about the tax cuts. When he was campaigning for office, Bush said we needed a tax cut because we had the surplus and instead of letting Congress spend it, we give the surplus back to the American people. That was the original justification for the tax cuts. He gets into office, and we end up with a deficit. George Bush says we need the tax cuts now to get out of the deficit. He canít have it both ways, you know. But as you point out, they just make up their facts as they go along to support what they already decided to do. They did it with the economy, and they did it with Iraq.
BuzzFlash: I started reading some of the old transcripts of the debates with Bush and Gore. Bush even promised that we would still have surpluses with the tax cut, which is just laughable in hindsight. I respect someone like Senator John McCain, who has been labeled a maverick and a straight shooter, and heís criticized his own party for the spiraling deficits set by Bush and the GOP-led Congress to the whopping tune of $520 billion for 2005, as you point out in your book. But frankly, even someone like Senator McCain is wrong when he says that the Republican Party is the party of fiscal discipline. Itís just not true, because Reagan and Bush Senior were among the worst fiscal managers. And W. has come along and doubled their disturbing budget deficits. As you pointed out, Clintonís budget produced three years of federal surpluses, which is just unheard of. At a certain point, do facts or the truth matter anymore?
Bill Press: I hope the facts and I hope the truth matters in this election, which is why I wrote this book and why I think, if the American people look at the facts, George Bush is a dead duck. But your point is absolutely valid.
I learned from Ronald Reagan that deficits matter. They matter because, if the government doesnít have its fiscal house in order, Wall Street is going to be restless. Itís going to be shaky. Itís going to be uncertain, and thatís going to affect the economy. Thatís going to affect the market. Deficits matter because the money that we use to pay off the debt is money that canít be used for productive purposes -- putting people back to work, building new highways, building new bridges, extending health care to Americans who donít have it. It just goes to pay down the debt. Deficits do matter. Ronald Reagan was right about that, but he preached it. Then he came in and did the opposite -- rolled up record deficits until that time the first George Bush rolled up even higher deficits. He went up to about $250 billion, and now his son has got the biggest of all - $520 billion -- which is the largest, of course, in American history.
Now Republicans have reversed themselves and want us to believe that deficits donít matter. They do matter. Ronald Reagan was right in the first place. Iím willing to accept that at one time the Republican Party was the party of fiscal responsibility. It is no longer. If you look at the Clinton economy and compare it to the Bush economy, the Democratic Party today is the party of fiscal responsibility.
BuzzFlash: Last question: Like any good book or story, itís always the details that matter most, and in your book, there were instances that just make your blood boil. One of the ones that struck me was how Bush rewarded the four major law firms in Florida that did most of the work to help Bush steal the Florida election and the presidency. He rewarded them by appointing at least 15 lawyers and partners from those firms to high-level government posts. The moral of the story you come away with is that the prize for stealing an election is a front-row seat in the new government. What are some of the other little instances -- the ones that donít quite add up to something like Iraq or deficits, but the smaller tangents, if you will, that form the basis of some of the more compelling and outrageous reasons why Bush must go?
Bill Press: Iíll give you three. One is John Ashcroft. Just the appointment of John Ashcroft alone, to me, is enough reason to vote against George W. Bush. This man was one of the most extreme right-wing senators ever to serve in the United States Senate. I think he is a man who does not believe in and certainly does not uphold the Constitution. To have him as attorney general of the United States is just an abomination.
Reason number two, which may be number one for me, actually, is what George Bush did to Max Cleland. Itís OK to oppose somebody, but the fact that George Bush, who promised to be a uniter, not a divider, who promised that he was a compassionate conservative, went down to Georgia and accused Max Cleland -- who, just to remind readers, lost both legs and one arm in a grenade attack in Vietnam -- of being unpatriotic because he didnít support George Bushís version of the Homeland Security bill, when in fact, Max Cleland was one of the first ones to call for the creation of a Homeland Security department, and George Bush opposed it for six months. Then Bush came in with his own version, which created a department that gave workers no civil service protection and no union protection. Max Cleland said thatís not right, and George Bush accused him of being a traitor. I think that is just a despicable kind of politics, and any person who would do that doesnít deserve to be in the White House.
The third one is crony capitalism. I invite people to pick up the book and look throughout the book. You will be amazed at how much George Bush has rewarded his big contributors. We saw it in Florida -- the people who went down there and helped the law firms that helped in Florida, making huge in-kind contributions, got some of the fattest jobs in the United States government. If you look at the Interior Department, you will see that the oil companies, the coal companies, the mining companies, and the forestry companies that contributed hugely to Bush and Cheney got the top jobs in the Interior Department. Itís across the board. In the Department of Agriculture, he rewarded all of his fat cats and put the fox in charge of the hen house throughout this government.
BuzzFlash: Thank you so much, Bill.
Bill Press: Thank you. Itís been great.
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
BuzzFlash interview: "Bill Press, Progressive Pundit and Author of the Upcoming Bush Must Go!" --
April 21, 2004 [LINK]
Bill Press web site and blog: [LINK]