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Bush RNC 2000 Flashback

September 2, 2004

As Americans prepare to hold their noses for the next four days so as to not inhale the stench eminating from the GOP convention in New York, a step back to the 2000 Republican gathering is in order. Let's journey back to August 3, 2000, when then Governor George W. Bush accepted his party's nomination for president.
That speech in essence encapsulated everything we suspected then and now know to be true about George Bush. The lies, the vindictiveness, the facade of moderation, they were already on display. Below are just five early examples of the smallness of George Bush:
1. "Not Ready for Duty, Sir"
Regarding military readiness, Bush said "We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, 'Not ready for duty, sir.'"
As Joshua Micah Marshall reported just four days later, this was not true. With chaos in Iraq, our armed forces overstretched, tours of duty being extended, reserve and National Guard forces tapped, and retrenchment from South Korea and Europe underway, President Bush may yet eat his words.
2. "The Lessons of Vietnam"
In 2000, Bush's speechwriter presciently penned, "A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."
In 2004, the American fiasco in Iraq, the unplanned and disintegrating occupation and our nation's growing isolation show a president for whom the lessons apparently went unlearned. For George Bush, the chaos in Iraq can be written off to "miscalculation."
3. "What Do You Think Of Me?"
The compassionate conservative Bush recalled visiting a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas, and talked with a group of young inmates:
"Toward the end of the conversation, one young man, about 15 years old, raised his hand and asked a haunting question, "What do you think of me?" He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle: Is their hope for me? Do I have a chance? And, frankly, do you, a white man in a suit, really care about what happens to me?"
Bush, of course, never answered his question.
4. "Towards What End?"
Of then President Bill Clinton, Bush spoke sternly, "Our current president embodied the potential of a generation -- so many talents, so much charm, such great skill. But in the end, to what end? So much promise to no great purpose."
As we can all now recognize, those ends, those purposes included unprecedented prosperity and economic opportunity, erasing the federal budget deficit of the Reagan-Bush years, real welfare reform, peace in Bosnia, an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, true dialogue in the Middle East and putting a stop to the carnage in Northern Ireland.
Those ends, those purposes were great and good. Four years ago at the RNC, Bush said of the Clinton reign, "America has a strong economy and a surplus." Bush would do well to avoid such comparisons in 2004.
5. "The Only Thing He Has to Offer is Fear Itself."
Of Al Gore, Bush was characterisitically viscious, stating that, "He now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but the only thing he has to offer is fear itself." He also ridiculed Gore's concerns over the Bush Social Security privatization plan as a "risky scheme."
As we now know, it is George Bush in the post-9/11 world who thrives on a politics of fear. The American public has come to virtually discount the incoherent and contradictory statements of Attorney General Ashcroft and Homeland Security chief Ridge.
And as record budget deficits and even a worried Alan Greenspan show, Gore's "risky scheme" prediction had it exactly right.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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