Stephen Galperin writes:
As I was reading Bush Beat this morning (August 10), I choked when I saw your quote from Bush calling Porter Goss “a reformer.” I live in the “battleground” state of New Hampshire. Bush has started a new series of ads calling himself a “reformer.” I fear that this is the first part of the latest Karl Rove redefining of Dubya as “the great reformer.” Of course, the definition of reform is in the eyes of the political consultant. I thought you might want to be made aware (if you haven’t already been told by a zillion people like me) of what we have to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. I’ll bet you’ll hear the words “reform” and “reformer” in every speech at the Republican National Convention. Have you ever repeated a word until it became a set of meaningless sounds?
Thank you for reading. I certainly have, Stephen. Tapes available upon request.
Joseph Goveia, a military contractor, writes:
Get a clue.
Thank you for reading. Please send me one, Joseph.
Dear Bushbeater: The local news carried a short piece on a “surprise coffee break” [on August 2, the day after Tom of Orange’s grim warning that New York’s big-bidness buildings were specifically targeted] with Laura Bush, held in the atrium of the Citigroup Building—in the midst of the allegedly very dangerous threat—along with her daughters, Pataki, and Bloomberg. Selected employees, the very ones who’d been scared silly, were in attendance, applauding and so forth, as Laura thanked them for coming into work. None of the channels I flipped around to during prime news time carried this, and there was just a brief mention of it somewhere in The New York Times. Guess Rove must have belatedly realized the cognitive dissonance this had-to-be-prearranged visit would have caused, and sent out the order for the media to step back. Surely this is a sign of the cynical cries of wolf we New Yorkers have been subjected to at politically convenient moments.
Thank you for reading. You’re no doubt correct about the “cynical cries of wolf,” JSotan, but as for the lack of coverage of this photo op, well, there was some. The real problem is the kind of coverage. Most of the media were so blinded by the orange glow emanating from Ridge on August 1 that they didn’t connect the dots as you did. This Newsday story, however, wasn’t bad, once you got past the “chilling” ref in the first paragraph. Let’s not be too harsh, however. I mean, we have gotten hit by terrorists, so we have reason to be nervous. Do we have the reasons that the Bush administration mouthpieces say we have? That’s the question. Do we have more reason to be nervous since we inflamed the Middle East with our invasion of Iraq? You won’t hear Ridge say that, but it’s at least part of the answer to that question.
The frustrating thing is that people like Richard Clarke were alerting the Bushites before 9/11 to fresh intelligence suggesting a direct threat from Osama bin Laden. But the Bushites seemed to think Clarke was crying wolf. And then their response after 9-11 was to cry Wolfowitz and start heading to Iraq.
Do you have anyone on your staff who has a more objective point of view?
Thank you for reading. We used to have someone like that, MMS3103. His name is THX1138. But he went off his meds, and we can’t locate him.
Scott Walters of San Francisco writes:
I take strong exception to your comment that Tom Ridge “can’t be faulted” for being “understandably partisan at times,” and that “it’s a given that politics enters into the equation” [Bush Beat, August 3]. Secretary Ridge can be faulted and in fact should be faulted. He is specifically charged with the task of protecting this country from terrorism. He is not charged with waving a flag for the president’s re-election. In fact, it is the very conflation of these two goals that undermines his ability to be taken seriously and thus to be an effective leader. I would even argue that Ridge’s inability to tease apart his politics from his job is a genuine danger to the nation; it diminishes his ability to be credible to the public in the arena where credibility is of the utmost necessity. Secretary Ridge is certainly not the only person to bring politics into the terrorism issue, but he is entrusted by the nation to perform an incredibly important job that demands the highest degree of non-partisanship. If he can’t keep his focus on his task, he should step down and let someone more professional take over.
Thank you for reading. If Ridge really were in charge of protecting this country, Scott, I’d agree with you. The fact is that Bush already had people in place for the job of protecting the country before 9/11, and their advice was ignored. In fact, as I noted July 23, the Bush administration left vacant from the start of his term to after the attacks what the 9/11 Commission’s final report called “the key counterterrorism office” in the Department of Defense.
Ridge was the governor of Pennsylvania. He’s not an expert on terrorism. He was not elected to be director of this new behemoth called “Homeland Security,” and so he was not “entrusted by the nation.” He was, instead, appointed by Bush, and he is supposed to be “waving a flag for the president’s re-election.” Ridge’s square jaw and party loyalty make him perfectly qualified to be the public face of the administration’s “war on terror.” His role, other than snatching power for the White House (from the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other agencies), building a giant bureaucracy, and awarding huge contracts, is to play the public like a fiddle, scaring us one moment and reassuring us the next. The highly politicized nature of his job does indeed pose, as you say, “a danger to the nation”—particularly to our civil liberties. Despite the gravity with which most of the press treats his pronouncements, people just can’t take what he says—or his job title—at face value.
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