Friday, December 30, 2005

What kind of man is Bush?

What kind of man is Bush?
Posted on Friday, December 30 @ 09:48:32 EST

Tim Abbott, The Roanoke Times

I grew up during the Cold War, in the aftermath of World War II, and I am a Vietnam-era veteran, so through my life I have heard a lot about freedom.

I was raised at a time when the portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln hung in schools and evoked patriotism. We were taught that we should emulate their ideals in thought and deed. They were the examples of principles such as individual conscience, political liberty and social justice.

Washington was the father of his country. He led the Revolutionary army, telling his officers to treat prisoners of war "with humanity," and, like Cincinnatus, voluntarily stepped down from the presidency.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, stating that all men have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And Lincoln was admired for his thought, humor and compassion. He wrote with malice toward none and charity for all.

Against these men and their successors were the fascist and communist dictators. In the photographs, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin and Francisco Franco strutted in military uniforms. Their concerns were not liberty, but national security and the national interests. All who opposed them were traitors and cowards.

Today we have other wars -- the war against terrorism and the Iraq war. Once again we are told these wars are about protecting our freedom.

Al-Qaida, we are told, wants to destroy us. Perhaps that is true, though it is hard to see how it is capable of such a feat. President Bush has called al-Qaida and Islamic fundamentalists "Islamo-fascists."

Bush talks a lot about freedom, courage, transparent government and the rule of law. He talks.

His speeches are carefully choreographed before audiences of his faithful -- often Christian fundamentalists or, to paraphrase Bush, Christian-fascists -- and they must sign loyalty oaths to Bush. He speaks before audience after audience of soldiers and sailors who cannot speak except as directed by the White House.

Others before whom he speaks may ask no questions. He runs from journalists, as we have seen in China, even on those rare occasions that he speaks before them.

Even worse, he has paid journalists to say good things about him and his policies. He also produces propaganda from government offices that he offers as news reports. And any protests against his policies are diverted well away from his sight and hearing.

In his Mission Accomplished foray, he wore a military uniform, something no president has done since Washington, and Washington only wore the uniform to quell a rebellion.

Around the world he has replaced the Soviet Gulag with the Bush Gulag, where men may be tortured.

He refuses to divulge the energy industries' influence upon his policies and the records of his Supreme Court nominees.

He refuses the United Nations access to question prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and refuses the Red Cross access to prisoners at CIA black sites. Furthermore, he threatened to veto legislation against the torture of prisoners even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed a "don't ask, don't tell" torture policy to the world.

In Iraq, he took us into an unnecessary war.

He uses fear, intimidation, distortion and lies. I cannot tell whether the man cannot tell the truth or he doesn't know the truth.

From these few examples of many, what kind of man is Bush? Is he like Washington or Lincoln? Or is he a man of another kind? Not a Cincinnatus, but a Tarquin.

When I think of Bush, I do not think of liberty and courage, compassion and justice. No, I think of arrogance, greed and lies. He is a thug, a buffoon and a coward. Not only is he incompetent, he is corrupt.

He is of a kind with the dictators; a strutting, sanctimonious buffoon who talks democracy but acts like Saddam Hussein. Bush might differ in degree from Hussein, not having been in power as long, but in behavior, with torture and the corruption of government, they are of a kind.

While al-Qaida is an enemy of the values and principles of the United States and Western civilization and must be confronted, it can do no more than kill people and destroy property.

Bush can subvert our principles and institutions. He is the greater enemy.

Abbott, of Hillsville, served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1974 and is a tutor at New River Community College.

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