Washington, D.C.—George Bush’s genius is to present himself as the benign, friendly man you’d like to have over to dinner. His appearance covers up the underlying logic of his administration: survival of the fittest. That’s what his government is all about: sending soldiers into battle without bullets and seniors to their graves while he talks about user-friendly drug programs they can’t possibly afford—and then dropping children out of society because they can’t pass a test. As history has amply demonstrated, society covers up the mess social Darwinism left behind by sending the losers into the arms of organized religion, today celebrated under the banner of faith-based compassionate conservatism. Of course, the compassion of centuries past was the poor house as an alternative to starving in the street. At the beginning of the 21st century, Bush’s goal is to blur the lines separating church and state and turn the U.S. toward theocracy.
Might it just be possible in this last debate to get back to basics, as the politicians like to say, and ask these two very rich men a few pointed questions? Here are some:
• For Bush: Recent reports in the London Times have the U.S. removing the commando team in charge of capturing Osama bin Laden and sending it back to Iraq—the deputy commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan saying at the time, “We don’t want to focus too much on bin Laden. . . . He is not necessarily the major player. He will be caught one day, but his whereabouts today won’t have a huge effect.” Is this true, and if so, what is your current policy toward bin Laden?
• For Bush and Kerry: Can you look the camera straight in the eye and pledge once and for all that this empty slogan “No child left behind” will mean that every child in America has health insurance regardless of cost?
• For Bush: You said you are against importing medicine from Canada because you fear third-world drugs getting into the U.S. What third-world country are you talking about? And why did we depend on a British company to provide half of our flu vaccine shots? What are you going to do about this mess?
• For Bush: Now that we own or control all Iraq’s oil, how come the price keeps going up? Isn’t that why we went to war?
• For Bush and Kerry: In this time of reduced paychecks, will you pledge to raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour? If not, why not?
• For Bush and Kerry: Why not take some of the defense money and put it into supporting homeland security by rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure, putting people to work doing so?
Additional reporting: David Botti and Laurie Anne Agnese
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 5, 2004