Fate of the Nation 

Bush makes his bid for war — and re-election

Thursday, Jan 30 2003

George Bush gave the first speech of his re-election campaign Tuesday night -- and his speechwriters crafted a discourse mostly of shortish sentences and short words, which the president is less likely to mangle than long ones.

It was Christmas in the first half of the State of the Union -- little “compassionate conservative” gifts designed to purchase a better image for a president with declining poll numbers. But once unwrapped, the bright and shiny packages turned out to contain a lot of sawdust. Prescription drugs for seniors sound good, don‘t they? But to get them, older folks have to give up Medicare and are forced to join HMOs, which give humans substandard medical treatment barely on par with the kind Fido receives from your average pet clinic.

How about the $600 million for drug treatment? Well, spread over three years, that works out to $200 million a year (compared to the $20 billion already programmed to be spent on the failed war on drugs), or about $4 million per state (given the number of people on drugs in California, that’s barely enough to pay their gas mileage to get to the treatment facility). And, by citing the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge as the one example of successful drug treatment, Bush signaled that the money will largely be used as political patronage for his “faith-based initiatives,” which buy off greedy churches to get them to support his re-election.

Related Stories

  • Stop the Anti-Immigration Hysteria: Murrieta's Obama Haters Need a Fact Check 61

    We're pleading here for straight talk on both sides of the illegal immigration debate, so we'll start this party with some brutal honesty: Illegal immigration isn't necessarily good for Latino Americans, and many of us don't always welcome it. Why would we ask for the clock on our U.S. assimilation...
  • How to Vote 8

    You know the incumbents. So our June 3 voter guide is about the other stuff - like a comedic race for judge featuring candidates so bad the bar association finds both "Not Qualified." One is Charles Calderon, who L.A. Weekly previously reported as one of the worst legislators in California. There's...
  • Henry Rollins: War, Continued 3

    This morning, I woke up in a small hotel room in Gordonsville, Tennessee. Outside my door: Taco Bell, Subway, McDonald's and Waffle House. I packed my gear and headed down to the lobby for another day of shooting 10 Things You Don't Know About. Scheduled for today was a tour...
  • Immigrant Prison 13

    After nearly a decade of hard-line enforcement on illegal immigration under both the Bush and Obama administrations, one of the results is that Latinos now comprise about half of all new federally sentenced offenders. And drug and immigration crimes taken together now account for nearly two-thirds of all federal convictions,...
  • Fighting for the Right to Lose to Gov. Brown 50

    Like most people, Bill Bloomfield does not think Neel Kashkari will be the next governor of California. Jerry Brown, he says, is "clearly going to be re-elected." Nevertheless, Bloomfield has decided to dip into his family's wealth — he made a pile on coin-op laundry machines — to pay for...

And what about the $10 billion in new money for global AIDS? Just last year, Bush forced the man who‘s now the Republicans’ new Senate leader, Bill Frist, to cut back his $500 million global AIDS package so the president wouldn‘t be upstaged when he announced an insulting $200 million proposal. Tuesday night’s promise works out to $2 billion a year, or 0.005 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget (in other words, chump change -- and a far smaller percentage of the gross national product than many poorer countries already give to fight AIDS around the world). That‘s less than the $2.5 billion that the U.S. should be contributing to the U.N.’s Global AIDS Fund based on our population and wealth. Moreover, a White House fact sheet accompanying the speech says that only $1 billion will go directly to the U.N. fund -- the rest will go to subsidize purchases from U.S. pharmaceutical and medical industries and to church-run programs abroad.

You had to sit through this campaign boilerplate of promises-on-the-cheap to get to the meat of the speech: Iraq. When Bush said to the Iraqis, “Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country,” I couldn‘t help thinking about the leaked report from a special U.N. task force calculating how many Iraqi casualties would result from an invasion (the report is available at www.casi.org.uk). The report says a there could be 500,000 civilian casualties -- 100,000 wounded or killed, another 400,000 hit by disease after the bombing of water and sewage facilities and the disruption of food supplies. Saddam is, of course, a sanguineous dictator, and his people would be better off if Saddam croaked tomorrow. However, forgive the Iraqi people for concluding that a U.S.-led war is not exactly in their best interest.

The Democrats in the chamber -- including the presidential candidates Lieberman, Edwards and Kerry, as well as Hillary Clinton -- all stood with the GOPers to applaud Bush’s most bellicose declarations. Senator Joe Biden, asked on Fox if the Democrats would support Bush if the country goes to war, chirped, “I will -- and I certainly hope so.” The congressional Democrats, of course, had just been reading this month‘s memo from the infernal trio of James Carville, Bob Shrum and Stan Greenberg, in which the overpaid consultants once again advised the Dems to shut up on foreign-policy criticism of Bush to win the next election.

The post-speech analysis on the tube was predictably gushy. Bill Kristol approvingly noted on Fox that it was “pretty close to a declaration of war.” On CBS, Bob Schieffer came to the same conclusion. On the point in Bush’s speech in which the Texas sheriff came out in Bush, when he proclaimed of the terrorists that many “are no longer a problem for the United States,” MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews said Bush revealed “almost giddy readiness to kill.”

The best TV moment came on Nightline. Old Squirrelhead Ted Koppel had on a trio of foreign correspondents who unanimously said that Bush’s pitch on Iraq would not convince anyone outside our shores. Where Bush proclaimed that the world “has been waiting 12 years for Saddam to disarm,” the BBC‘s Justin Webb told Koppel, “If it’s been 12 years already, what‘s the hurry now?”

And that’s the central question -- and one that Bush‘s speech glaringly failed to answer.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Foster the People's Downtown L.A. Mural Is Coming Down

    The controversial Foster the People mural downtown is coming down, the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today. Despite claims by the pop band that it had necessary permits and that the artwork was legitimately produced, the mayor's office states what we reported previously: The piece is on a...
  • U.S. Reps Call For Federal Intervention in Dodger TV Blackout

    A group of local U.S. representatives wants the Federal Communications Commission to help end Time Warner Cable's blackout of Dodger games for competing cable and satellite providers. Negotiations to bring the team's games to AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications and Verizon FIOS have gotten...
  • Dodgers Keep the Kids, Come Up Empty at Trade Deadline

    Twenty-six years is a long time between pennants. Unacceptably long; the longest period without a World Series appearance in Dodgers franchise history. That’s L.A. and Brooklyn. Of course, 1988 was glorious, but there is a large and growing continent of L.A. fans who just cannot look at the brake lights...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship
    On Sunday, Street League Skateboarding touched down in the Galen Center at USC as part of a four-stop tour for SLS's Super Crown World Championship. The L.A. stop determined the roster for Super Crown, airing August 24th on FOX Sports 1. The final eight are Nyjah Huston, Luan Oliveira, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz, Matt Berger and Ishod Wair. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Comic-Con's "Celebrity" Autograph Area
    A sometimes overlooked (but still incredibly unique) aspect of San Diego Comic-Con are the celebs available to sign autographs, as well as the autograph seekers themselves. If you've ever wanted to meet the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld or the guy who played Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are, as you wander the Autograph Area, you'll be able to connect with someone you didn't even realize you were waiting your whole life to meet! All photos by Rob Inderrieden.
  • Real Madrid Soccer Practice at UCLA
    Fans came out to greet world champion soccer team Real Madrid as they practice at UCLA. This is the first time that soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has practiced with the team this year. All photos by Jeff Cowan.