The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated each weekday.

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August 11, 2001

Make fun of Bush at your own peril — Business A.M. (UK)
The European media continue to enjoy portraying George W. Bush as a buffoon. But while everyone’s attention is trained on his verbal miscues and apparent cluelessness, Bush is busy implementing policies which could do great harm not only to the US but to other nations, writes James Taggart.

Bush foreign policy — all spin, no substance? — Foreign Policy
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell have coined a new term to describe their foreign policy doctrine: “the new realism.” Problem is, no one can quite work out what the hell that means. “Indeed, one fundamental problem with the Bush administration’s new doctrine is that ‘realism’ no longer has any real intellectual coherence,” write Jeffrey W. Legro and Andrew Moravcsik. Before the Cold War ended, “realism” was a meaningful and vibrant school of thought; this administration, however, has apparently abandoned the core ideals and simply begun using the term “as if its opposite were ‘idealism, ‘self-delusion,’ or, as Rice would have it, ‘romanticism’ (as practiced, of course, by the previous administration).”

August 10, 2001

Hodgepodge of Harris scandals — Various
In response to reports that she had erased important official computer files, embattled Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris released tens of thousands of digital records to the media — but the flood of disclosed documents is only causing her more embarrassment. For starters, the Associated Press reports that Harris may have violated state law by allowing materials endorsing Bush to be created on her office’s computers before the election. The Palm Beach Post, meanwhile, found that her staffers had prepared a press release announcing a “razor-thin” winning margin for Bush several hours before the recount numbers were due. The paper also discovered that Harris, the state’s top enforcer of election laws, was registered to vote in two different counties for more than seven months between 1999 and 2000. It seems that after getting elected and moving to the state capital, Harris re-registered as a voter there — but was not taken off the voter rolls in her old home county, a mistake that should have been caught by the very office she heads.

Libertarians spin the Web on social security — The New Republic
The most complete catalog of information about the White House Commission to Strengthen Social Security can be found at, where the commission’s report on the future of the program was first released, writes Ryan Lizza. Thing is, though, the commission’s own bare-bones website is actually; belongs to the Cato Institute, a think tank “dedicated to libertarianism so pure it would make Dick Armey blanch.” Privatizing Social Security is a pet issue for Cato’s libertarians, who would prefer the government turn over control of just about everything to the private sector.

Who’s in charge? — USA Today
According to a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, Americans have no idea who is the leader of the Democratic party, and many think no one is. Of those responding who could even think of a Democrat to name, the results were thus: Richard Gephardt, 9 percent; Tom Daschle, 7 percent; Al Gore, 6 percent; Bill Clinton, 5 percent; Hillary Rodham Clinton, 3 percent; Ted Kennedy, 2 percent; and Joe Lieberman, 1 percent. Which begs the question, who do Americans think is in charge of the GOP? We suspect it would be a dead heat between Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Charlton Heston.

August 9, 2001

Administration tries to further limit disabilities law — Dallas Morning News
The federal Department of Justice has filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Toyota in a case brought by a worker with repetitive stress injuries. Toyota and the Justice Department, along with many other businesses, are effectively seeking to limit the number of people who can invoke the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act for workplace injuries. This is Bush’s second move to curtail the rights of workers with RSI; early in his administration he signed legislation repealing rules designed to prevent repetitive injuries on the job.

Land of theocracy — Village Voice
George W. Bush called on his “ever-prayerful” cabinet to rededicate itself to strengthening Christian values in its governing, according to James Ridgeway. That means supporting policies that promote patriarchy and legislate morality. If Bush’s priorities thus far on abortion, gay rights, sex education, drugs, and filtering the Net are any indication, “[w]here, when, and how people have sex remains … the single most important domestic political problem of our time,” says Ridgeway.

August 8, 2001

Bush’s kooky tax cut — New York Review of Books
“The tax bill that emerged from Congress is, according to several tax experts, the most peculiar, misshapen, and irrational one in memory,” writes Elizabeth Drew. “To comprehend the full fiscal folly of the tax bill, it has to be understood that Congress’ work on it was almost totally disconnected from a real federal budget, into which it was supposed to fit. This was a deliberate strategy on the part of the administration. The House passed the President’s $1.6 trillion tax cut … pretty much intact on March 8, long before there was even a budget resolution on which it was supposed to be based.”

Japan, other allies stumped by administration’s ‘loner behavior’ — Japan Times
As the world’s only superpower, the US can compel even its big allies to bend on international agreements. But even a superpower needs “allies and friends and cannot totally ignore the views and concerns of its partners,” writes Hugh Cortazzi in The Japan Times. “Unfortunately, President George W. Bush has given the impression recently that in concentrating on promoting what he sees as the national interests of the United States, he is prepared to back-track on commitments made by earlier US administrations and does not intend to accept new commitments even if the US is isolated on the issues involved.”

August 7, 2001

Head Start lost in the Bushes — Sacramento Bee
Last week, First Lady Laura Bush hosted a mini-summit on the benefits of early childhood education. But she failed to mention that her husband’s proposed funding for Head Start — a federal preschool program for poor children — would actually leave the already-underfunded program with less money per student after inflation.

Teddy Roosevelt ‘disappointed’ in Bush — Associated Press
What’s with these cranky former presidents? First it was Jimmy Carter, now it’s Teddy Roosevelt giving Dubya what for in public. Well, make that Teddy Roosevelt IV, the great-grandson of the Bull Moose. Roosevelt, a Republican financier who is also chairman of the League of Conservation Voters, was the keynote speaker Sunday at the National Governors Association annual meeting. He said he was “very disappointed” in President Bush for his plan to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Israel conflict pits Cheney against Powell — National Post
Dick Cheney said Friday that Israel had “some justification” for assassinating suspected Palestinian terrorists — comments that stand in direct contrast to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s persistent criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Cheney’s comments point up a serious rift in the administration over Middle East policy, say observers. According to one senior source, Cheney and the hawkish Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are often at odds with Powell, who is “much more centrist.”


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