Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > By PAUL KRUGMAN: The Falling Scales

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Falling Scales:
"Last week President Bush found himself defending his record on national security without his usual protective cocoon of loyalty-tested audiences and cowed reporters. And the sound you heard was the scales' falling from millions of eyes.

Trying to undo the damage, Mr. Bush is now telling those loyalty-tested audiences that Senator John Kerry's use of the phrase 'global test' means that he 'would give foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions.' He's lying, of course, as anyone can confirm by looking at what Mr. Kerry actually said. But it may still work - Mr. Bush's pre-debate rise in the polls is testimony to the effectiveness of smear tactics.

Still, something important happened on Thursday. Style probably mattered most: viewers were shocked by the contrast between Mr. Bush's manufactured image as a strong, resolute leader and his whiny, petulant behavior in the debate. But Mr. Bush would have lost even more badly if post-debate coverage had focused on substance."

Here's one underreported example: So far, Mr. Bush has paid no political price for his shameful penny-pinching on domestic security and his refusal to provide effective protection for America's ports and chemical plants. As Jonathan Chait wrote in The New Republic: "Bush's record on homeland security ought to be considered a scandal. Yet, not only is it not a scandal, it's not even a story."

But Mr. Kerry raised the issue, describing how the administration has failed to protect us against terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush's response? "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises."

Oh, yes we do. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, Mr. Bush's tax cuts, with their strong tilt toward the wealthy, are responsible for more than $270 billion of the 2004 budget deficit. Increased spending on homeland security accounts for only $20 billion. That shows the true priorities of the self-proclaimed "war president." Later, Mr. Bush, perhaps realizing his mistake, asserted, "Of course we're doing everything we can to protect America." But he had already conceded that he isn't.

He's not even protecting our soldiers.

Not only is he sending them into harm's way, he's responsible directly for over 1000 dead, and 20,000 maimed. Responsible, because, he not only ignored General Shinseki's advice, but forced him out of the military. Responsible, because the weapons caches, and ammo dumps, were not and could not be secured. Responsible, because Oil and the Oil Ministry were more important than soldiers lives. Responsible, because for the insurgents, this was the gift that keeps on giving, carbombs and improvised explosive devices.

Being president is hard.
But it's not as hard as coming home, blind, missing alimb or limbs. It's not as hard as being brain damaged. (Maybe it is being brain damaged.) It sure isn't as hard as coming home in a coffin.

Yesterday, Former head of the Provisional Authority Paul Bremer admitted, that we didn't deploy enough troops to secure Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. Which is why the ammo dumps weren't secured. Every soldier and civilian killed by a carbomb or improvised device, has died because this administration, and yes this President, thought that the Oil Ministry was, not just more important but the only thing they had to secure.

con·cept: The New York Times > Opinion > By PAUL KRUGMAN: The Falling Scales