By Joan Walsh

By Salon Staff
Published February 22, 2002 8:42PM (EST)

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Just finished reading Joan Walsh's article "Bushed." I've been around for 66 years, but I am still constantly amazed at the elitist snobbery of some of today's so-called journalists. So President Bush is a "lightweight." That is Ms. Walsh's opinion, which, of course, she is entitled to. I am also entitled to my opinion of President Bush and of Ms. Walsh. Unfortunately, unlike Ms. Walsh, I do not have a Web site where I can pontificate about the snobs permeating the left wing liberal media with their blather and drivel. By the way, I'm a lifelong registered Democrat. But a snob is a snob.

-- Ray Rinaldi

Come on, Joan, why can't you bring yourself to drop your gloves and clock this administration's shit-eating grin off its smug little face? Any idiot with our military resources could have beaten a tiny, backward, third-world country like Afghanistan. Bush II more than proved that.

Our president is a moron, a cocaine-snorting frat boy, a spoiled, overprivileged, blue-blooded turd who has coasted through life on Daddy's name and money. He's done nothing but lie, break campaign promises and pay back all of his contributors, especially Ken Lay, big oil, and the Christian right. This country is closer to fascism now than it has ever been.

Moreover, I find it insulting that you'd call Bush and Ashcroft true believers. Jesus was not a saber-rattling, jingoistic capitalist; anyone with even a cursory reading of the Sermon on the Mount can tell you that. Dubya wouldn't know his favorite political philosopher (another revelation of Bush's stupidity; Jesus was not a political philosopher) if he tripped over him. In fact, I doubt seriously that Bush has ever cracked open a Bible; it's a bit more challenging than "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

-- Lawrence Tonsick

Although I think the Taliban should have been exterminated long ago, and I agree that "Bush deserves far more scrutiny, and criticism, than he's been getting. Even his verbal gaffes matter," and I find your essay of Feb. 21 a refreshing and long overdue departure from the craven and fatuous trend in the American media, I cannot agree with this: "I agree with Horowitz on one point: Bush isn't stupid."

On what evidence do you assert that Bush isn't stupid? Here is a man who apparently cheated his way through three of the best schools in the world (or perhaps he's a poster-boy for "social promotion") without managing to learn the difference between nuclear and nookular. He is apparently one of the most remarkably incurious individuals on the planet, having no demonstrable cultural interests whatsoever. He does not know that security and freedom are very different, often opposed, phenomena.

His first impulse whenever caught in a mistake is to issue an obvious lie -- for example: "We thought Air Force One was targeted" and "Ken Lay supported my opponent." As for his other lies, anybody not tone deaf to nuances of language can tell he clearly doesn't understand the falsity of the words his handlers put in his mouth. Moreover, he believes only Christians go to heaven and that his past drug use leaves him qualified for the presidency but others' drug use should condemn them to prison. He thinks that his father, a well-documented liar and Iran-Contra traitor, was an example of "integrity" in the White House (perhaps W's most forgivable delusion). Like his slightly-less-imbecilic father, he "was born on third base and he thinks he hit a triple."

His is an utterly unexamined life, undistinguished by real achievement, lacking in noblesse oblige and untroubled by conscience or self-awareness. George W. Bush is stupid. Stupid like an inbred princeling, stupid as only a life of idle, pampered impunity can make one. The fact that it has suited the interests of cunning people to make him fail upward is not evidence of his wisdom. I challenge you to give any evidence to the contrary.

In addition, I don't share your rosy view of the war's conduct. I am constantly puzzled by the way the American press wants to award Bush the trophy at the bottom of the first inning, ignoring obvious signs that the effort has been in many ways bungled -- allowing the Taliban brass to escape and plot further atrocities.

Since Sept. 11 I have felt utterly alienated in my own country, like a Jew in Weimar or a black man under Jim Crow, aghast at the absence of common sense in the popular media, aghast at the absence there of people like me and voices like mine. You, Joan Walsh, are among the people culpable for this vast negligence. It's about time you woke up. Do better henceforth, please.

-- David Essex

Thank you, Joan. I only wish what you suggest would happen. I fear it never will. Too few Americans seem to read newspapers anymore--let alone think.

-- John C. Friel

Thank you, Joan Walsh, for your "Bushed" column.

I had been beginning to think I was stuck in some parallel universe in which I kept seeing President Bush as he was before the war in Afghanistan while everyone else saw him as the greatest president since FDR.

Now I know that I'm not the only one out there.

-- Josh Neveln

I have been uncomfortable with the near unanimous assumption that Bush has shown himself to be a good leader in the war on terrorism. Has Bush truly demonstrated any leadership? I'll grant you that when he speaks on the subject of the war, he doesn't smirk, he uses "visionary-ish" terminology and he adopts a stern tone in his voice.

As far as the actual dispatch of the war, it looked like we just threw a lot of bombs at the Taliban until they broke. Any idiot who can get elected can do that, and Bush's election seems more of a triumph of his courtiers than a reflection of his political skills.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend. I noticed he had a cookbook written by a cheesy celebrity. I asked him, "Are the recipes bad?" He responded, "A pound of meat, a pound of lard, a pound of sugar and a pound of salt -- how bad could it be?"

That's the Bush War strategy in a nutshell, it seems: Strike back at those who harmed us and avoid casualties. How bad could that strategy be? The only property that marks it distinctively Bush's is its prerequisite vagueness.

Even Bush's management of the news media doesn't require very much skill or leadership. What media outlet is going to criticize a president during a war? All Bush has to do is not mess up and we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Oops, he called it a "crusade." Oops, he called them an "axis of evil." Brilliant! These are not semantic, hairsplitting mistakes, these are stupid things for a commander-in-chief to say. These, among many others, are why our coalition partners openly refer to him as President Gump.

-- Maurice Heilberg

Could somebody explain to me why Bush is supposed to have done such a wonderful job prosecuting the war? This was a war that was supposed to root out terrorism from the face of the earth. All that has happened so far is that when we dropped the awful daisy cutters on them, the Taliban, who were not the primary targets of the war, have been displaced and replaced by warlords who are fighting among themselves in most parts of Afghanistan.

Bin Laden has not been smoked out, nor has Mullah Omar. A large number of Pakistani and other al-Qaida fighters were allowed to escape to Pakistan on a plane. There are reports today that the Pakistani ISI is still helping the Taliban and is involved in providing sanctuary to the leaders of al-Qaida. In the meantime the much-touted coalition against terrorism seems to be cracking. Does not sound to me like there is anything that counts as a success here.

-- Sreelatha Meleth

Dear Ms. Walsh: I'm sorry, but I must disagree with your editorial. The correct answer to David Horowitz's question is this: What about al-Qaida's terrorist threat has changed since Sept. 11? What -- with the exception of the ouster of the Taliban government -- is different from what Bill Clinton tried to do during his administration?

Bin Laden is still alive, al-Qaida's cells still exist and, but for the assertions of the Bushies that al-Qaida is on the run, what evidence do we have they are? Everyone wants retribution for Sept. 11. No American president would dare do anything less than what the Bushies have done. Has Bush enunciated, articulated anything except cowboy jingoism while placing a clamp on American democracy?

If we have won in Afghanistan, we have won with Clinton's army. Mr. Bush's "approval ratings" are merely the result of a frightened American populace grasping at the only life preserver they can see. It is up to a free, unrestrained press to tell it like it is. Or does that only go for stained blue dresses and missing interns?

-- Darrilynne Arnelle

Salon Staff

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