The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated each weekday.

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March 2, 2001

In the Bush family fashion — Guardian (UK)
Sixteen-year-old Lauren Bush, the daughter of Dubya’s conspicuously inconspicuous brother Neil, was tapped by the fashionistas at Tommy Hilfiger to be that label’s “ambassador” this week. Says the Guardian, “By marrying the company name to that of the president, the American clothing giant has pulled off a fantastic ambition: to make good the heavy-duty symbolism it has for years used to market itself as a branch of the establishment.” (For the record, Tommy Hilfiger himself gave $5,000 to Democrats — including Bill Bradley, Joe Leiberman, and Charles Schumer — in the 2000 election cycle.)

Secret Service bails out Bush daughter’s beau — Associated Press
An 18-year-old Texas Christian University student was arrested over the weekend outside a fraternity house and charged with public drunkenness. The suspect, William Bridges, was belligerent, reportedly shouting repeatedly at police officers that he was dating Dubya’s daughter Jenna. Although the White House and Secret Service won’t comment, Tarrant County Jail officials say it was a Secret Service agent who bailed the boy out shortly after the arrest.

Dubya’s vulgar tax plan — Molly Ivins
There’s a trove of classic Ivinsisms in this one, such as: “[W]ith Bush, what you see is not what you get. What you hear is not what you get. What you get is what you get.” She points out that the “ordinary” couple Bush trotted out in his speech before Congress would receive $1,100 tax break under the Bush plan, while Bush himself would get a break 60 times that amount.

Bush, the leftist — The American Prospect
An early draft of Bush’s Tuesday address to Congress included a sentence advocating carbon-dioxide emission controls. According to right-wing columnist Robert Novak, conservatives in the White House demanded the line be excised, and it was. But the speech still included endorsements of some social programs even the most liberal Democrats could get behind. Bush clearly isn’t as absolutist about shrinking government as his far-right buddies might have hoped, and it has them hopping mad.


March 1, 2001

Bush says death penalty ‘unfair,’ ha ha — The Miami Herald
It’s fun to listen to Bush’s extemporaneous adventures. In an address before 4,000 people yesterday, Bush said “Those of us who spent time in the agricultural sector and in the heartland, we understand how unfair the death penalty is — the death tax is,” Bush said, correcting himself. He then made a joke of the slip: “I don’t want to get rid of the death penalty, just the death tax,” Bush said, laughing along with the crowd.

Bush’s budget hucksterism — The Progressive
Bush’s first big speech rang as hollow as those he delivered in his campaign, says Ruth Conniff. It was full of borrowed slogans and faux inclusiveness, and nice images meant to distract us from the mean reality of his administration.

Did the US media cover up election corruption? —
Brit journalist Gregory Palast says the US media missed the biggest story of the election: Republican operatives in Florida had thousands of purported felons purged from voter rolls, even though many of those disenfranchised were not, in fact, felons. This was front-lage news in Britain (a fact Palast likes to point up, since he was the guy on the story for The Observer), but not in the US, says Palast. May we remind him that it was which broke that story, the day after the election? And that numerous other outlets — including his — later picked up the story in the US and Europe and ran with it?


Feb. 28, 2001

Bush stumbles over church-state line — Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Helen Thomas, the UPI White House correspondent who has covered nine administrations, took on George W. Bush in a contentious exchange at Bush’s first press conference. Thomas cornered Bush with this zinger: “Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state?” She went on to tell Bush, “You are a secular official.” Bush responded, “I agree, I am a secular official.” Thomas shot back, “And not a missionary.” (Thanks to Debbie Felix for the tip.)

Reagan’s haunting pardon — Reuters
The spotlight is on pardons made by Clinton and Bush Sr., but here’s a little story that seems to have been missed in the hoopla. An Oregon man who was pardoned by former President Reagan in 1981 for a failed bank robbery conviction dating back to 1970 was arrested in November for killing and dismembering his wife, and then burning her body.


Feb. 27, 2001

Tally No! — MSNBC
Eric Alterman says the Miami Herald recount of votes in disputed Florida counties, which seems to have confirmed Bush’s victory, is simply a symptom of Gore’s flawed post-election strategy. The former VP should have called for a recount in the entire state (which Alterman says would prove Gore’s plurality victory), instead of trying to lawyer himself into the White House by cherry-picking the counties in which he expected gains, which made him look like an opportunist.

Bush gets record low approval rating — Reuters
Even with Clinton doing his level best to distract the country from Bush’s verbal and political foul-ups, the prez scored the lowest approval rating — just 55 percent of Americans polled think he’s doing a good job — of any newly installed president since Eisenhower.

Legitimizing Dubya — The Consortium
The GOP has found its defining mission for the next four years, says the Consortium: gunning for those Congressional Democrats who still openly question the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency.


Feb. 26, 2001

Grammar don’t make no difference — Reuters
After the president had multiple run-ins with pronouns and plurals in his first press conference last week, White House spinmistress Mary Matalin said the American people don’t care if George W. Bush uses proper grammar or not. Oh yeah? That’s what she think.

Bush Sr.’s Iran-Contra pardons — Federation of American Scientists
Back in December 1992, just before he left office, Dubya’s dad pardoned six figures involved in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal — including former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, who was about to go on trial for his involvement in the affair. Critics say Weinberger’s trial might have exposed the extent of Bush Sr.’s knowledge of the covert operation when he was vice president under Reagan, and that the pardon was a deliberate cover-up.

Minorities lose in Bush tax plan — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
According to this DC think tank, “more than one of every two black and Hispanic families with children would receive no assistance from the tax plan of the Bush Administration. Altogether, 6 million black and Hispanic families — and 12.6 million black and Hispanic children — would not be aided by the bill.”


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