Bush's brand-new Day

By Joan Walsh

Published May 24, 2001 8:00AM (EDT)

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As the daughter and granddaughter of Dorothy Day, we feel compelled to speak about the use of her name and work in George Bush's commencement speech at Notre Dame.

Dorothy was an ardent believer in social justice, the rights of workers and care of the disenfranchised. Her life's work was dedicated to picking up the pieces of human wreckage, the result of policies that continue to be perpetuated by the Bush administration. It is shameful to have her efforts associated with an administration that gives priority to corporate profiteering over human needs. Dorothy understood that a just system was as equally important as her ideal of personalism, where each takes individual responsibility for the well-being of all. The speechwriters for George Bush have distorted her message regarding the works of mercy by using her words in their arsenal of deceit.

-- Tamar and Martha Hennessy
Weathersfield, Vt.

President Bush's self-serving appropriation of Dorothy Day's name and words shows a profound lack of respect for her work and legacy. I could accept it if I knew Bush was speaking from knowledge or conviction. However, it's very difficult to imagine that Bush had even heard of her, much less was acquainted with her work, before his speechwriters had this perverse inspiration.

Several times recently, when hearing an excerpt of a Bush speech, I've thought to myself, "Those aren't Bush's words or thoughts! The words are coming out of his mouth, but he doesn't know or care anything about what he's saying." To preserve some semblance of his credibility, perhaps his speechwriters should tailor the words they put into Bush's mouth to the way he actually thinks and speaks. I can't recall another recent political figure for whom there was such a disconnect between the person and the rhetoric.

-- Randy Norwood

I share Joan Walsh's indignation over Bush's citation of Dorothy Day, but not her surprise. Stealing the moral high ground from the left is standard procedure for Republicans.

At the "Latino Rally" in Philadelphia before the GOP convention, George P. Bush (Dubya's photogenic, brown-skinned nephew) actually had the gall to invoke the name of Cesar Chavez. As if the union leader had anything in common with the GOP agenda! And how many times have we heard Republicans cite Martin Luther King's plea to judge by the content of character, not the color of skin, to bash affirmative action -- completely ignoring King's devotion to socialism and firm support for precisely those types of government-based social remedies?

-- Lee Nichols

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