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My Problem With Bush

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

OK, so I've been putting this off because I'm lazy, but I really ought to get my thoughts written down. In the 2004 Presidential Election, I voted for John Kerry. Over half the country apparently doesn't understand why. So here we go.

For starters, I didn't vote for Kerry because I like Kerry; like most people, I voted for Kerry because I dislike the Bush administration, and because most of the things that people viewed as positive about Bush were things he actually had in common with Kerry. For example, Bush claims to be Christian - and Kerry is a Roman Catholic. Bush supports a ban on homosexual marriage - and Kerry also opposes homosexual marriage (although Kerry doesn't support making marriage a federal issue, since it's been a state issue since we became a nation).

True, Kerry is pro-choice while Bush is pro-life, but I have to weigh this issue against other factors - and I don't believe that either candidate would have had a particularly significant impact on the ongoing abortion issue. Some may disagree with me, and I can respect that, but hear me out.


First of all, the accusations of Kerry “flip-flopping” are mostly nonsense. The quote Bush always likes to bring up, as a summary of Kerry's supposed inconsistency, is “I actually voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” Is that inconsistency? Only if Bush's threat to veto the version of the bill that Kerry voted for, before signing into law the version that Kerry voted against, is just as inconsistent. These aren't all black-and-white issues.

Failure to Admit Mistakes

Kerry said something very interesting during his DNC speech: “I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.” That subtle distinction sums up the main problem I have with Bush, I think. He's arrogant, and he throws around the name of God for his own political purposes. Bush is human, he makes mistakes. But he refuses to recognize, learn from, and correct his mistakes.

During the second presidential debate, someone asked, “President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it.” Bush's response:

I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.

And in a war, there's a lot of - there's a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say: He shouldn't have done that. He shouldn't have made that decision. And I'll take responsibility for them. I'm human.

But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions, because I think they're right.

That's really what you're - when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, “Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?” And the answer is, “Absolutely not.” It was the right decision.

The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program. And the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.

We knew he hated us. We knew he'd been - invaded other countries. We knew he tortured his own people.

On the tax cut, it's a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history.

Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV.

But history will look back, and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility.

Notice how Bush completely failed to answer the question. It appears that he doesn't question his own judgment - he hasn't been able to recognize a mistake that he has made, aside from hiring a few people that turned out not to get along with him as well as he had expected. If he can't admit his own mistakes, how can he learn from them, and try to avoid making those same mistakes in the future? As he said, historians will look back at this time - that doesn't mean he should wait for them.

By the way, trying to get rid of sanctions doesn't quite justify a preemptive military invasion.

The Truth

Bush has been asked, if he knew then what he knows now about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would he have done anything differently? Bush's response has been consistent: absolutely not. If this is true (and I believe that it is), then it means that the original reason Bush decided to invade Iraq was not because of weapons of mass destruction. So if that's the case, then why did Bush lie to us?

October 2002: “While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone - because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people.”

March 2003: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.... The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.”

So if Bush had known that Saddam Hussein didn't really have any weapons of mass destruction... we would have gone to war against Iraq anyway, because Saddam having weapons of mass destruction wasn't the real reason for going to war. So why did he tell us that that was the reason?

Also, what was the real reason? To be honest, I'm not sure - Michael Moore says it was all about oil, but I'm not entirely convinced of that yet. Regardless, the key issue is that George W. Bush has not been honest with the public. If he's willing to deceive the world about his reasons for declaring war, what other issues will he deceive us about?


I didn't vote for Kerry because I thought he would have been a great president. I believe his plan to win the peace in Iraq would have failed, although I believe it would have failed in a way that would have been less harmful to our country (and possibly cost fewer lives) than what Bush will continue to do. It's widely recognized that Kerry was only a mediocre candidate, but that's better than the arrogance, dishonesty and cronyism I see in the Bush administration. As Guy Kawasaki said, it's “better to fail at doing the right thing than to succeed at doing the wrong thing.”

One final thought: When Bill Clinton was caught lying, he apologized to the nation live on national television. President Bush doesn't appear to be capable of the same.