In this timely handbook, MSNBC contributor Bill Press focuses on the ten most important reasons why he thinks President Bush does not deserve a second term. Read an excerpt, and his top ten list, below. Bill Press guests on 'Hardball,' Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET
"The election of 2004 is not about whether you like George Bush better than John Kerry. The election of 2004 is about one thing only: It is a referendum on George Bush’s record. It is our only chance to get rid of him before he can do any more damage—to our nation, to our environment, and to our children’s future."
In our great democracy, elections come and go. Some are more exciting than others. Some are more important than others.
But make no mistake about this one. The presidential election of 2004 is the most important of our lifetime. Never before has there been such a dangerous man in the White House. Never before has it been so vital, for the good of the Republic and everything we stand for as Americans, to oust an incumbent president from office.
Before Tom DeLay lumps me among the “Bush-haters,” I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I do not hate George W. Bush. It’s nothing personal. I just think he’s a sad, sorry excuse for a president. His policies have ruined the economy, pitted Americans against each other, destroyed the environment and made enemies around the world.
Despite losing the 2000 popular vote to Al Gore, George Bush did not walk lightly into the Oval Office. His administration brought more than a change of presidents and cabinet secretaries. He acted as if he had a mandate. Both at home and abroad, he has steered this nation in radical and dangerous new directions. He has betrayed our trust. He has adopted policies that are antithetical to our core national values.
On the international scene, Bush promised a “humble” foreign policy. Instead, he has delivered the most arrogant brand of foreign relations possible. He abandoned the idea of “containment,” successfully followed for four decades by Republican and Democratic presidents alike - against such enemies as the Soviet Union, Communist China and Cuba – and replaced it with his new policy of “first strike” or “anticipatory self-defense” – the same argument used by the Japanese Empire to justify its strike on Pearl Harbor. Under the new Bush doctrine, the United States asserts the right to go anywhere, anytime and overthrow any government we think may someday pose a threat.
Iraq was Bush’s first pre-emptive war. Today, over a year later, it is still a war in search of a reason. As it turns out, everything George Bush told the American people to justify going to war in Iraq was a lie. We’ve found no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons, no long-range missiles, no bomb-carrying drones, no connection to September 11, no links to Osama bin Laden and no imminent threat to the United States. None of Bush’s reasons for unilaterally starting a war that has claimed over 500 American lives proved to be true. The war in Iraq was both unnecessary and unwise.
Bush also reversed course on decades of international cooperation – much of it wisely championed by his father - on global issues. Flying the flag of neo-isolationism, Bush cancelled U.S. participation in existing treaties on the law of the sea, biological weapons and missile defense, pulled the plug on a new treaty on global warming and thumbed his nose at the United Nations.
As a result, respect for the United States and for our president has deteriorated around the world. Bush is ridiculed as the “Toxic Texan.” Even among our allies, most people now regard America as an unfriendly and belligerent power. The United States could only round up two other countries, Great Britain and Australia, to join in the invasion of Iraq – and then on a very small scale.
On the home front, Bush has wreaked even more havoc. He took the country’s economy from A-OK to IOU, turning a projected, 10-year $5 billion surplus into a projected $5 billion deficit and, in the short term, replacing Bill Clinton’s balanced budget with a 2004 budget deficit of $374 billion, the largest in history. According to projections issued by the White House Budget Office in January 2004, Bush will set an all-time new deficit record of $520 billion in 2005. At the same time, Bush rewarded his favorite constituency, those Americans making over $320,000 a year, with two back-to-back tax cuts that they didn’t need and we couldn’t afford.
Bush also wrecked the economy. Eight years of the most robust economic growth in history have been followed by three years of Bush recession and the loss of 2.8 million private sector jobs. After 10 quarters of decline or stagnation, the economy may be finally starting to rebound. But, even so, it’s a jobless recovery. Nine million Americans are still out of work. George Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to leave office with more Americans out of work than when he arrived.
The Bush recession hurt all Americans - except those special interests who fueled his election campaign with big contributions. To them, he handed a whole grab-bag of federal goodies: giant new subsidies to big agricultural firms; freedom to continue polluting to refineries and utilities; access to national monuments and forests to timber and mining interests; and drilling in Alaska and national parks to oil companies. George Bush paid his friends back, big-time.
At the same time, he declared war on all the rest of us. George Bush cut funds for student loans and Head Start. He stuck seniors with a prescription drug plan that charges seniors more for less. He built up a bigger, bloated federal government. He caused irreparable damage to the environment. And he unleashed Attorney General John Ashcroft in a direct assault on our civil liberties under the so-called “USA Patriot Act.”
Bush and Ashcroft have violated the due process of law by locking up suspects for months with no access to a lawyer and no chance to prove their innocence. They have also trampled on the Fourth Amendment by requiring law-abiding citizens to open up their bank, medical, credit card, telephone and computer records to the FBI. It’s all part of the war on terror, they argue. Yet George Bush’s so-called war on terror is mostly pure public relations. He has actually left us more vulnerable to terrorism, not less.
To be fair, Bush has done a few good things. He stepped up to the plate after September 11 and demonstrated strong leadership. He led a successful campaign against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He refused to brand Islam as a violent religion, or all Muslims as terrorists. He proposed a temporary work permit for undocumented workers from Mexico.
That’s it. Trying to be as generous as I can, those are the only four positive things I can think of. And they are completely overshadowed by all the evil he has done.
On November 6, 2000 – the day before he lost the popular vote to Al Gore – George Bush told a crowd in Bentonville, Arkansas: “They misunderestimated me.” We sure did. He turned out to be a far worse president than we had ever feared. That’s why this election is so critical.
Anyone who follows American politics knows: Whenever a president is running for re-election, the election is more about him than his opponent. That’s certainly true this year.
The election of 2004 is not about whether you like George Bush better than John Kerry. The election of 2004 is about one thing only: It is a referendum on George Bush’s record. It is a referendum on the disastrous policies of George W. Bush. It is our only chance to get rid of him before he can do any more damage – to our nation, to our environment, and to our children’s future.
Two friends of mine took a trip around the world in 2003. They returned inspired by the beautiful sites they had visited, but disheartened at the anti-Americanism they encountered everywhere they traveled. I wanted to know, do they blame us or do they blame George Bush? For now, they reported, they only blame George Bush - because they know we didn’t really elect him in 2000. But if we re-elect him in 2004, they warned, then they will start to blame us. We can’t let that happen.
I admit, it was tough, writing this book. There are a thousand reasons why George Bush doesn’t deserve a second term, and didn’t deserve a first one. But, to save time and trees, I had to limit my list to the TOP TEN – and that was hard.
So, I need your help. Let’s make this a cooperative project. You, no doubt, have your own reasons for dumping this guy. At any time, I invite you to turn to the back of this book and use the space provided for listing “MY OWN REASONS FOR GETTING RID OF GEORGE BUSH.” Or check out my website at Billpress.com – and sound off. But, please, join the team: Read my Top Ten Reasons, add your own, share them with your friends and neighbors, and then - Run to the ballot box and send this president back to Texas
Courtesy of Dutton Books, Penguin Putnam.