Monday, August 16


Among the worshippers at a recent Ohio Bush campaign event was, evidently, Chris Suellentrop of Slate, who filed this report:

"All of you are soldiers in the army of compassion," the clergyman-in-chief tells the crowd. "And one of the reasons I'm seeking the office for four more years is to call upon our citizens to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself." After his usual endorsement of the Golden Rule, Bush speaks of souls, which also isn't unusual for him: "We can change America one soul at a time by encouraging people to spread something government cannot spread, which is love."
Bush isn't a fire-and-brimstone preacher, talking about sinners in the hands of an angry God. He's a hippie priest, emphasizing the Christian message of brotherly love. I can almost hear the guitars and tambourines. He says, "I know we can change America for the better by calling on those who are change agents, those who are willing to put our arm around someone who needs love and say, 'I love you, brother. I love you, sister. What can I do to help you have a better life here in America?'"

ExcUUUUSSe MEEEEE!?! Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is such a joke I'm amazed that he dares continue to use it on the stump. Bush & Co. have done everything possible to gut the social safety net and have every intention of bringing it completely down during a second term.

Government can't "spread love" -- and under Bush, it can't spread the tax breaks, the burdens of war, or fair play either; his cronies and other elites get the first, the economically disadvantaged and middle class get the second, and NOBODY under BushCo gets the third. Hey buddy, you're not the lover-in-chief, you're the commander-in-chief. Leave the love stuff to people who know what that is, and take care of the business you're paid for, which is civil governance.
From there, Bush becomes a teacher, imparting "the lessons of September the 11th, 2001." "We'll never forget!" a man seated among the firefighters calls out. Bush's Lesson 1: "We're facing an enemy which has no heart, no compassion. And that puts them at an advantage in a way, because we're a country of heart and compassion."

There was a time when the whole world believed that about us. But tell it now to the thousands of innocent Iraqis who were "shocked and awed" to death. Tell that to the victims of the Abu Ghraib abuses. Tell that to the detainees at Guantanamo and the "hidden houses" where we stash suspects around the world indefinitely without access to due process.

Lesson 2: "In order to defend the homeland, we got to be on the offense. We must deal with those people overseas, so we don't have to face them here at home."

If we keep destroying their countries, they'll soon be over here in droves.

Lesson 3: "In order to be able to defend ourselves, we've got to say to people who are willing to harbor a terrorist or feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists."

That would be acceptable if we're really talking about terrorists and not insurgents who have every right to repel an invading force. Then it's not defending ourselves, it's just plain incursion.

Lesson 4: "When we see threats, we must deal with them before they fully materialize." Lesson 5 is a corollary of Lesson 4: "We saw a threat in Iraq."

"When we see threats...before they fully materialize" -- the scariest Bushism of all.

Even while Bush is in his teaching mode, the whole event has a Sunday-morning air. Bush says of Saddam, "He had used weapons of mass destruction. Remember that? He had used them on his own people." The crowd murmurs back, "That's right, that's right." When Bush mentions that John Kerry and John Edwards were two of only 12 senators—whom Wednesday he called "a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority"—to vote against the $87 billion for the war in Iraq, someone else yells out, "Shame on them!"

The Misleader-in-Chief, naturally, fails to remind his audience that he threatened to veto the very same bill if it didn't come out the way he wanted it.

Bush almost gets weepy later, when he tells a story "that touched my heart," about seven Iraqi men who visited him in the Oval Office. The men's right hands were chopped off by order of Saddam Hussein, and they had X's burned into their foreheads. An American organization provided them with prostheses. "A guy took my Sharpie, wrapped his new fingers and wrote, 'God bless America,' in Arabic," Bush says, his voice choking up. "What a contrast," he says. In America, "We want to heal you, no matter who you are," his voice catching again.

So, are we going to abandon Iraq? Bush asks the crowd. "Are we going to be a country of our word?" he asks. "Or are we going to go timid and weary and afraid of the barbaric behavior of a few?" The crowd shouts back: "No!"
Bush says a CEO in the audience has an interesting idea to share. The man doesn't say anything. "Flex time," Bush says. "I'm glad you told me what my interesting idea was," the CEO says appreciatively. Bush replies, "I'm not a lawyer, but it looks like I'm leading the witness." "I appreciate that," the CEO says, and Bush shoots back, "You appreciate the fact that I'm not a lawyer?"

How out of touch can one man get? FLEX TIME is new??? The only thing knew about it is Bush's proposal to have it take the place of overtime pay.

After last week's Democratic convention, I felt that John Kerry had become the favorite in the presidential race. Now, after only two days with President Bush, I'm not so sure. He's that good. Unlike many people, I'm not threatened by the president's religious rhetoric. It must be the Midwestern Catholic in me. Like the people in the audience, I find it familiar and comforting. I can see why so many people believe the president is "one of us," no matter how rich or how elite his background. And I can see that Kerry will have a tough time besting Bush in all three debates.

After only two days with Bush, Suellentrop has decided that the polls be damned, Bush is the favorite. Forget about the fact that Bush's campaign events admit the true believers ONLY. Of COURSE he had the crowd eating out of his hand! And who's "threatened" by his religious rhetoric? I'd be just fine with it if he wasn't such a blasted hypocrite and it wasn't such an Elmer Gantry performance.

"One of us?" No thank you. I hang with a better crowd.


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