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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

President alienating prospective supporters

BY EILEEN FOLEY

OUR business-buddy President is supposedly showing his moxie to John Kerry, the Democratic contender. He talks a good game, but I see a whole lot of shakin' [out] - of prospective voters - goin' on.

While Mr. Bush is, for now, proposing to pervert our Constitution by building group bias into it - in part so his right-wing base will overlook that his spending is the antithesis of everything Republican - the number of Americans who disapprove of him grows daily. He's pushing them away.

Start with the 2 million or so unemployed, many because their jobs moved overseas thanks to international trade and job development policies that didn't protect workers. Pap about cheap Asian labor keeping prices down is nonsense. Even low prices are beyond reach without a job.

Go to the rejection of a Michigan-Vermont proposal for joint bargaining for bulk drug purchases for Medicaid patients, to assure a lower price. Other states want similar deals. But the self-reliant, do-it-yourself initiative violated federal procurement procedures that weren't devised for ordinary Americans.

For politicians it's easy-come, easy-go where the not-rich are concerned. Most of them don't vote. But this denial reaches into the pockets of taxpayers in every state - a bum deal from a president and party that assure "bennies for bidness." Even congressional GOPers are nervous about what they did.

Now the President, through his Education Secretary Rod Paige, suggests that the National Education Association and its 2.7 million members are terrorists. Never mind the subsequent apology. Mr. Paige's tone said he didn't mean it. No Child Left Behind continues underfunded.

Let's see. That's 2 million unemployed and 2.7 million teachers multiplied by four, say, to cover family members - nearly 19 million people mad enough not to vote for him - plus all voters whose pockets will be picked by a leader who loves the pharmaceutical industry, and the veterans the Bushies have shortshrifted. And gays and lesbians, perhaps 10 percent of the population. And their friends and families.

Even those not interested in matrimony won't buy into the Bush bias. Nor will his corporate buddies, who lead in mainstreaming homosexuals. Most of their firms offer same-sex couples benefits. A few are bound to say, "C'mon George, make it go away. We need the GOP for the rest of our agenda."

Only a politician with a political death wish is as mean and dismissive to so many. What is that about?

Then there's the deceit. Consider the National Guard service, an alleged year which so far only one guy, one tooth, and a lately discovered girlfriend can document. And she never saw him in uniform. Consider the yellow-cake from Niger and WMD excuses that led the nation into what many Americans were persuaded - the rest of the world was less gullible - was a righteous war. Now it appears more like "wag the dog," pre-election-year grandstanding to a nation still frozen in post-9/11 fear. Look at the war dead. Pin the tail on the exit strategy. Loose the maimed victims for all to see. Ask why the drive to capture Osama bin Laden had to await a presidential election.

There have been a lot of knee-jerk excuses about how Mr. Bush didn't lie, how other western powers thought Saddam a greater menace than he turned out to be. It was just a mistake, boys and girls. We're still well rid of the monster. But some other monsters are our pals, so now we're hypocrites.

Consider China, Pakistan, and Russia. Their regimes are as oppressive as Saddam's, and as corrupt. China, big on religious freedom, but only in "patriotic" state-approved churches, has arrested a pair of Christians "for revealing state secrets." They'd been running underground house churches. Pakistan has sold nuclear secrets as if they were bonbons. In Russia the "free press" has gone to the embalmers.

The big difference between Mr. Bush and other leaders mistaken about Saddam is they didn't have political bones to make and weren't about to risk their citizenry and their economies for the pleasure of proving their political manhood. They were wise, he wasn't. He and his advisers know the attraction of macho policy, but not its pitfalls.

Mr. Bush has made our wonderful country such an international pariah that our athletes could be in jeopardy during the Summer Olympic Games in Greece.

Why is he giving so much away?



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