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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July 6, 2001

Bush’s No. 1 adviser: Pops — Detroit Free Press
This weekend, George Bush Jr. is spending a long holiday with his dad, and will likely be doing a lot of listening. It is much-reported that Dubya has Poppy on speed-dial from his phone in the Oval Office, but the extent of Bush Sr.’s role as policy adviser to his son may be much deeper. Bush Sr — known as “41” among the White House staff to distinguish him from his son, the 43rd president — often calls National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell to share his thoughts on foreign policy, which are relayed to the president. Since a large number of Bush Jr.’s aides worked in his father’s administration, Bush Sr.’s calls are always answered and his ideas given unusual weight.

Cheney didn’t get a pacemaker — Various
It has come to Bush Files’ attention (thanks to the vigilant Shandy Voyles, a nurse) that most of the media are calling Cheney’s heart implant a “pacemaker,” when in fact, it is a much more complex gadget called a “cardioverter/defibrillator.” The latter is designed to deliver powerful, sudden electric shocks to the heart when the organ lapses into “immediately life threatening heart rhythms.” A pacemaker, conversely, simply speeds up dangerously slow heart beats. Says Nurse Voyles: “The device that Cheney had implanted … has a minor, secondary function as a pacemaker, but the primary function is as a defibrillator, to shock the heart out of fatal ventricular arrythmias. It is a miniaturized version of what we use in hospitals and is now standard on airplanes for cardiac emergencies.”

July 5, 2001

Bomb Texas! — Reuters
The Texas economy is flagging — some say thanks to ex-governor George W. Bush’s tax cuts — and some economic advisers have a novel revenue proposal: Make Texas’s south coast (already dotted with offshore oil rigs) a Navy bombing range, a la Vieques. Now that Bush has given in to Puerto Rican activists, they reason, there’s a need to be filled.

Fuentes: Bush dim, Cheney demonic — The News (Mexico)
Mexican literary icon Carlos Fuentes says the US anti-drug policy in Colombia is dangerous and misguided, and that decriminalization is the only solution to drug-trafficking in the Americas. On a personal note, Fuentes has this to say about the president and VP: “What horrors has this poor man committed, this very dull-witted, very mediocre man, but with a demon behind him named Dick Cheney?”

The all-Ashcroft channel — Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center has launched a Web site,, that closely follows all policy decisions Attorney General John Ashcroft — a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association — has made in favor of gun advocates. The site focuses on the VPC’s pet issue, Ashcroft’s NRA-endorsed proposal to suspend a Brady Bill provision that preserves records of gun buyers’ background checks so the FBI can use them to investigate crimes.

July 4, 2001

Brotherly oil feud over — Orlando Sentinel
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is breathing a sigh of relief now that he no longer finds himself in a confrontation with his brother over oil drilling off the Florida coast. Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s “compromise” saves Jeb’s political skin — in theory anyway — by banning new drilling within 100 miles of the coast. Critics, however, say the compromise does little more than drive the drilling deeper into the Gulf, where Bush and Co. have been pushing for more oil exploration anyway.

Killer trees, anyone? — In These Times
In mid-June Interior Secretary Gale Norton flew to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to meet with oil industry execs and members of the Gwich’in tribe, who subsist by hunting caribou in the refuge. The Gwich’in treated Norton to a banquet of moose, but insisted that they would not be persuaded to support drilling. Afterward, reports Jeffrey St. Clair, Norton said the Gwich’in nation has a “choice” when it comes to preserving their way of life. “But that choice also impacts others,” she continued. “The children throughout America will be affected by these decisions as well — whether they will have heat for their homes, whether they will have jobs in a prosperous economy.” Now we know whom to blame when the lights go out.

Rove on the outs? — The Nation
George W. Bush’s “Svengali-strategist” Karl Rove “has stepped into several cow pies” of late, writes David Corn, most recently by meeting with Intel executives in whose companies he held stock about possible federal regulatory action. Corn says Rove’s “ham-handed role in contentious policy decisions,” has made the administration look bad, and now Democrats are gleefully wondering whether Bush will jettison Rove before he can do more damage.

July 2, 2001

A prayer for George II — Reuters
Attorney General John Ashcroft, addressing an evangelical gathering in Iowa, revealed that the first Cabinet meeting he attended in the White House began with a prayer. “Frankly, the president… said, ‘Folks, before we begin this meeting, I’m going to call on General Ashcroft and ask him invite the wisdom and presence of God in what we do.'” Ashcroft says he encouraged those gathered to pray for Bush and other US leaders, citing biblical passages that call on Christians to pray for “kings and for all who are in authority.”

NOW’s new leader has Bush in sights — Associated Press
Kim Gandy, the incoming president of the National Organization for Women, says she’s gunning for George W. Bush. The first new NOW leader in 10 years, Gandy says she aims to prevent “right-wing political extremists” from receiving federal court appointments, and to work to elect progressive politicians. “One of the things at the top of my agenda is sending George Bush [back] to Texas.”

GOP leaders fret about Bush fouls — New York Times
Top Republicans are concerned that mistakes and poor decisions by the Bush administration in recent months are beginning to erode the entire party’s credibility, according to The Times. Some strategists and lawmakers have said they feel “that the White House political compass has often seemed askew over the last three months… And they note that these and other episodes have at times made the administration seem alternately arrogant, sloppy, unethical and out of touch.”

The heart of the Cheney matter — The Independent (UK)
Dick Cheney may have returned to work feeling “great,” but observers saw him wincing as he eased himself into a waiting car to go back to his residence just two days earlier after he was fitted with a pacemaker. “[P]olitical Washington was buzzing with speculation yesterday on the wisdom of his continuing in office,” says The Independent. Cheney’s visit to the hospital was his third for heart-related problems since the November election. “The new questions on Mr. Cheney’s health could hardly have come at a worse time for Mr. Bush, who has made no secret of his reliance on his Vice President on a whole gamut of subjects,” writes Mark Dejevsky. “Less than six months into his presidency, Mr. Bush looks grey and weary — as though he has aged 10 years — and his administration seems to have stalled.”


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