The price is right

Even Bush-bashers can't deny that for just $200 billion, America is getting its money's worth of chaos, death and disorder!

Published September 27, 2004 7:30PM (EDT)

"I know we're going to win," George Bush said in St. Cloud, Minn., recently. "That's not just happy talk." He was referring to the November election, his optimism borne out by judicious feedback from pre-screened ticket-holding supporters. But he might just as well have been speaking of his Iraq War.

For while the Kerry campaign continues its manic obsession with rectifying our domestic- and foreign-policy crises, Bush has been a steady, focused Man with a Mission Accomplished. And he's done this while also blasting away at the core issues affecting virtually every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Education: While Kerry plans to establish the first ever National Education Fund to ensure that schools always get the funding they need, Bush has proven that he can be relied on in a second term to slash $200 million from Head Start, $11 billion from children with disabilities and $7.2 billion from children in poor communities.

Healthcare: While John Kerry and his ilk would extend affordable healthcare coverage to 95 percent of Americans, including every child, only the Bush administration took the bold step of designating Sept. 21 "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day," encouraging minorities to "take charge of their health" by making a doctor appointment or attending "a healthcare event." Next up on the Bush calendar: "Treat Yourself to a Dream House Day," "Here, Have Another Job Day," and "Try to Get on the 'Oprah' Show While She's Still Handing Out the Free Pontiacs Day."

The Economy: While John Kerry wants to cut taxes for businesses that create jobs here in America instead of moving them overseas, and John Edwards takes a jobs plan to Ohio, which lost an additional 12,000 jobs last month (bringing its total job losses under George Bush to 173,000), the Bush administration is hard at work reminding us that "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay" -- which should come as a comfort to the 6 million Americans poised to lose their right to overtime pay.

Meanwhile, Bush keeps racking up one "catastrophic success" after another in Iraq.

I mean, sure, you're always going to have people who dismiss Bush's war as merely a massive fiasco built on lies and abetted by the manipulation of grief and the distortion of patriotism that plunged us headlong into deadly chaos with a resultant upsurge in terrorism that is spreading even as the White House continues to alienate our allies. But hey, what do you want for $200 billion?

The important thing is to give Bush full credit for the war, since he is, after all, the commander in chief, not just some jerk who put on a flight suit and walked away from his National Guard duty or swaggered onto a flight carrier.

I also think that people are reading too much into the fact that several new groups of people have been gathering to view screenings of "Fahrenheit 9/11." OK, so they happen to be U.S. troops in Iraq. When you really analyze it, that growing-disaffection-with-Bush thing among the troops is way overblown.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the interviews in which enlisted soldiers made such observations as, "[For] nine out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush -- they'd vote for them," and "Nobody I know wants Bush. This whole war was based on lies," were conducted only in central, northern and southern Iraq. For all we know, George Bush could have quite the fan base along the east-west fringes.

The interviewee with the real insight is interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who complained that the media are "talking only about the negative aspects" of Bush's war. You know, he's right. We ought to be celebrating all the happy things that come about as a result of invading a country, bombing it to bits, and causing the deaths of tens of thousands of men, women and children, not to mention 1,040 and counting of our troops, several aid workers and journalists, and more than 25 civilian hostages, some of whom ended up there because they couldn't find a job in Bush's America.

Instead, everybody has to make this big huge deal about Bush receiving a classified National Intelligence Estimate in July, which said that the prospects for Iraq were grim. Or was it bleak? OK, grim and bleak -- whatever.

But does anybody bother to mention the best case scenario offered in that same estimate? For your information, it says that if things suddenly take a turn for the better, pigs become airborne and the Red Sox win the 2005 World Series, we might actually see an Iraq whose "stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms." That's right, pal, tenuous, and proud of it.

And what's all this criticism because the Bush administration never had a concrete plan for postwar Iraq? Hello, isn't the war still going on? And isn't it likely to go on for years at this rate? So what does Bush need with a postwar plan? It's like Lt. Gen. William Wallace said, "We're making this up as we go along." Works for me.

Speaking of military, I'm getting a wee bit tired of all these so-called experts weighing in. Like the Pentagon planners with their little whinefest in August 2003 about "Oh, you didn't give us enough time." Apparently, these guys aren't clear on the concept of "rush to war." I tell you, those Joint Chiefs of Staff should just stay out of it, find a hobby and leave the strategy to Dick and Donald. Oh yeah, and that Chalabi guy. Now he knew how to move things along.

But oh, no. Even Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, have to put in their two cents about "incompetence in the administration." That's Lugar, who also said, "Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration -- what I call the 'dancing in the street crowd' -- that we just simply will be greeted with open arms. The nonsense of all that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent." Then Hagel goes all, "The fact is, we're in trouble. We're in deep trouble in Iraq." So? You don't have to get all stressed about it.

Besides, I think we need to remember what Bush's war is all about -- Bush's lifelong quest for a flourishing democracy. Look, all the poor guy is trying to do here, folks, is "build a community of peaceful, democratic nations." And if he has to sacrifice every last one of "the bravest among us" to do it, that's just the price he's willing for others to pay.

And as an added bonus, he's thrown in extra helpings of human dignity. Said so right there in his speech to the U.N. No wonder he ran out of time to present his thoughts on the torture at Abu Ghraib. Surely, reasonable people would agree that if you just punch out the phrase "human dignity" enough times, you've pretty much covered your ass. Give the guy a break.

That's right, I'm talking to you, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, you and your fixation on rule of law. Can you believe that guy? He strolls right out there, opens up the 59th session of the U.N. General Assembly like he ran the joint, and lets fly with this kind of reckless talk: "Every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home must respect it abroad. And every nation that insists on it abroad must enforce it at home." Nice, very nice, Kofi. Did your mother teach you to talk that way?

Wait, it gets worse. "Yes, the rule of law starts at home but in too many places it remains elusive. Hatred, corruption, violence and exclusion go without redress." He even contends that there are countries where "the powerful manipulate laws to retain power and accumulate wealth. " Oh, come now, who would do that?

By Joyce McGreevy

Joyce McGreevy is a writer in Portland, Ore.

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