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Under Reported

September 09, 2004
The surreal world of Bush
By: Haroon Siddiqui
Toronto Star

Politicians don't always deliver what they promise. But George W. Bush is in a league all his own. He says one thing, does another and often manages the exact opposite of what he intends.

While politicians play up what suits them and downplay what doesn't, he is unique in shutting out reality altogether. He won't see what he doesn't want to see, even if others do.

Also, while politicians learn on the job and go from the stupid to the sensible, he seems to travel in the opposite direction.

He said post-9/11 that he was going to isolate terrorists but ended up isolating America.

He attacked Afghanistan to crush Al Qaeda but spawned its branches or, worse, copycat outfits all over the world.

He invaded Iraq to capture non-existent weapons of mass destruction, while his other two axis of evil nations, North Korea and Iran, were the ones developing nuclear weapons.

He talked tough on Iran but it was North Korea that got busy and made two nuclear bombs.

He saw his war on Iraq as a warning to other states not to develop lethal weapons but finds his credibility so eroded he can't convince others about the seriousness of Iran's nuclear intentions.

He went into Iraq to squash a non-existent terror connection and ended up sprouting widespread terrorism.

He ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror, only to replace it with that of thousands of terrorists.

He liberated Iraqis but killed nearly 20,000 of them.

He promised them the rule of law but created the rule of looters, rapists and hostage-takers.

He pledged democracy but postponed elections to impose a CIA agent as prime minister.

He promised Iraqis freedom but muzzled the independent Al-Jazeera and gave $48 million to a Florida firm to modernize Saddam's propaganda machine so it can serve as the propaganda arm of the American occupation.

He hailed the axing of the death penalty in Iraq as one of the first acts of the American occupiers last year, but has consented to its reinstatement by the new U.S.-appointed satrapy in Baghdad.

He planned to replace the secular Baathists with secular democrats but strengthened the clerics both among the Shiites and the minority Sunnis.

He needed the help of moderates among them but undermined the country's most influential moderate, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and elevated the militant Moktada Al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has now shifted its insurgency from Najaf to the Shiite Baghdad slum of Sadr City.

Bush aimed for secular models of local governance but handed over self-rule in the Sunni cities of Falluja, Ramdi, Samarra and Baquba to fundamentalists who will likely never give it up without a bloodbath.

He routed the Taliban from Kabul but consented to Taliban-like rule by warlords in parts of Afghanistan and mullahs in parts of Iraq, especially in Falluja, where they are punishing suspected criminals with lashes in public squares.

He sought military control of the Shiite holy cities of Najaf, Kufa and Karbala but withdrew American troops, twice.

He wanted power consolidated in the hands of the American ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, and pliant prime minister Iyad Allawi, but discovered that while they have all the military gadgetry at their command, the political power has shifted to the mosque.

He wanted a pro-American and pro-Israeli Iraq but has created a virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli nation whose hostility seems set for a generation or two.

He claimed credit for the presence of the Iraqi soccer team at the Olympics, only to have the players publicly berate him as a slaughterer of innocents in Iraq, and see Greek anti-American protesters force the cancellation of Colin Powell's presence at the closing ceremony in Athens.

He continues to portray the American occupation of Iraq as an instrument of development, even as only 3 per cent of the $18 billion allocated by Congress for infrastructure has been committed so far and some basic services remain in worse shape than during Saddam's era.

He advocates democracy for Arabs but ignores its most basic principles in dealing with terror suspects at home, while violating the Geneva Conventions in dealing with prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He says the American economy is strong despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary: fewer jobs than when he took over, 4.3 million more people in poverty (for a total of 36 million), 5 million more people without health insurance (total 45 million), and a record number of people facing the prospect of going bankrupt.

He says he honours the service of John Kerry in Vietnam but has his entourage tear at the man's honourable record.

In short, we are dealing with a president who seems to be operating beyond the realm of rationality.

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday.  hsiddiq@thestar.ca

Original Link:  http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1094681410522&call_pageid=968256290204&col=968350116795

moreflop 10.Sep.2004 08:53


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Independent Media TV
Under Reported

September 08, 2004
Flip-flopper in Chief
By: David Brock

"The Bush campaign has been remarkably successful at getting the press to buy the notion that John Kerry is a flip- flopper. ... But reporters have been much less quick to look at various Bush reversals of policy through the same lens." - Columbia Journalism Review, July 15, 2004.

"Bush now has solid advantages over Kerry in the perceptions that he is a strong and decisive leader, stands up for what he believes in, and can manage the government effectively." - Gallup News Service, August 31, 2004.

The Los Angeles Times described the "central message" of the Republican National Convention as the argument that President George W. Bush "is a strong, decisive leader who, unlike Democratic opponent John F. Kerry, steers a steady course through shifting tides of public opinion."

That image of Bush as a "strong, decisive leader" has been driven home relentlessly by the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign all year, and it has clearly been successful. According to a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 23-25, 54 percent of people say the phrase "strong and decisive leader" applies more to Bush than to Kerry, while only 34 percent say it applies more to Kerry. Among Independents, the margin is even wider: 54 percent say it applies more to Bush while only 25 percent say it applies more to Kerry.

While these poll results are no doubt encouraging for Bush chief political aide Karl Rove, they should be dispiriting to anyone who cares about the media's role in democratic elections.

As Columbia Journalism Review, Media Matters for America, and countless others have noted, the media has applied an alarming double standard in covering Bush's and Kerry's changes in position - a double standard that has been particularly noteworthy in recent weeks.

An Aug. 30 Washington Post article demonstrated the sometimes subtle ways in which media coverage of the candidates' position- switches tends to favor the president:

Republicans draw a sharp contrast between what they portray as Bush's directness and what they call rival John F. Kerry's tendency to worry issues to death. ... He [Bush] has also not hesitated to switch positions when necessary, such as when he first opposed, then backed, the creation of a Homeland Security Department.

The Post used Bush's own words to describe his opponent's character trait: Kerry tends to "worry issues to death." Meanwhile, the newspaper presented Bush's decision-making far more charitably: "Unlike the indecisive Kerry, Bush changes positions only "when necessary." The Post didn't explain why Bush's change in position about the creation of a Homeland Security Department was anything other than a classic "flip-flop"; nor did the article include an explanation of why Bush's flip was "necessary" - though we can assume that political considerations played a sizable role.

The Associated Press has been more overt in promoting the idea of Bush-as-steady-leader. On Sept. 2, the wire service ran an article headlined, "Steadfast, disciplined, Bush sees himself as unchanged by events of presidency."

But recent events do little to support the description of Bush as "steadfast."

For example, the president recently flip-flopped dramatically on the subject of political advertising by 527 groups. In 2000, Bush strongly defended such advertising as "what freedom of speech is all about"; he now condemns such ads (and, apparently, "freedom of speech") as "bad for the system." Yet while the media gave heavy play to Bush's condemnation of 527 advertising, his recent support for them went virtually unmentioned.

Just days before the AP article ran, Bush flip-flopped (and then flipped back again) on the question of whether the United States would win the war on terrorism. For years, he has made firm pronouncements such as "Let me be clear about this: We will win the war on terrorism." Time after time, Bush has said we would win the war on terror. But in an interview that was broadcast on Aug. 30, Bush abruptly changed his mind. When he was asked "can we win" the war on terror, Bush said, "I don't think you can win it." The very next day, the steady, resolute Bush went back to the position he had previously touted, declaring: "We will win" the war on terror.

But Bush's shocking uncertainty on this question of utmost importance apparently wasn't enough to shake the Associated Press's opinion of Bush as "steadfast." In fact, it was the subject of relatively little media attention.

How little attention? Less than Teresa Heinz Kerry's request that a hostile right-wing reporter "shove it." That's right: Teresa Heinz Kerry's comment shows up in 681 news reports available on Lexis-Nexis for the first four days after she said it. Bush's abrupt change in opinion - that the United States can't win the war on terror - was only mentioned in 397 news reports.

Bush's new opinions on 527s and the war on terror are only the most recent examples of his many flip-flops on cornerstone issues. He has switched his position on gay marriage, on carbon dioxide emissions, on patients' rights legislation, on an investigation of WMD intelligence failures, on the creation of an independent 9-11 commission, on "nation building," and on the assault weapons ban.

He even seems to have flip-flopped on the importance of capturing Osama bin Laden. In September 2001, Bush said he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive"; in March 2002, he said during a press conference, "I just don't spend that much time on him. ... I truly am not that concerned about him." And in 2003 and 2004, according to Dan Froomkin, who writes The Washington Post's White House Briefing column, "Bush has mentioned bin Laden's name on only 10 occasions." Indeed, in his speech to the Republican National Convention, Bush did not mention bin Laden's name once.

But despite the president's countless flip-flops on issues of highest importance, the media fails to focus on his changes in position as they do on Kerry's. The Aug. 23-25 Gallup poll results showing that more people consider Bush a strong and decisive leader than Kerry, therefore, are not surprising. The poll is just the predictable result of a media double standard that could determine the result of the 2004 presidential election.

David Brock is the President and CEO of Media Matters for America. Jamison Foser is a Senior Adviser.

Original Link:  http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/19800/

Video of Bush FlipFlops 11.Oct.2004 16:14

Bush FlipFlops

Video of Bush FlipFlops