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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Oct. 13, 2001

Bush, FOX program director? — Associated Press
In response to a request by President George W. Bush to air a special edition of “America’s Most Wanted” tonight, Fox executives are rushing production of the special. Fox entertainment chief Sandy Grushow said, “Not only don’t we have a problem with it, but we’re honored by the request.”

Frank: Repeal the Bush tax cut — The American Prospect
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., argues that President Bush’s continued calls for additional tax cuts are hypocritical, and that all tax cuts passed since he took office should be repealed. Franks says Bush cannot continue to push for a tax cut while pushing through new spending for things like anti-terrorism programs and federalized airport security. “Obviously, it makes sense to spend freely now, both to combat the deepening recession and to deal with the terrible events of September 11,” Frank tells the Prospect. “But it does not make sense to couple this short-term spending increase with a long-term reduction in federal revenue from the very wealthiest people in our society. ”

Oct. 12, 2001

Time for a few good foreign policies — Molly Ivins
George W. Bush’s approach to foreign policy before Sept. 11 essentially went like this, writes Molly Ivins: If Bill Clinton was for it, Bush was against it. So Clinton’s pet project — peace between Israel and the Palestinians — was essentially abandoned once Bush took office. It’s time for Bush to drop the reactionary approach and dust the idea off, argues Ivins: “The point is that policy needs to be judged not on who is for it or against it — for all we know Saddam Hussein may be right about something — but whether the policy works.”

Bush’s lost aides — The New Republic
Before the terrorist attacks, the Bush presidency was all about “partisan politics and the permanent campaign,” writes Ryan Lizza, as Bush leaguers Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, and Ari Fleischer worked daily to “sell the president to the public.” Now, with Bush’s approval ratings in the stratosphere, the White House communications staff doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. Trashing Democrats has been scratched from the daily agenda, and all the action is over at the State Department and Pentagon. Still, the communications staff can’t seem to help itself, says Lizza; its instinct is to spin everything, generally to disastrous effect.

Oct. 11, 2001

Multilateral in the streets, unilateral in the sheets — Guardian (UK)
Having won the support of allies in Europe by proposing a specific strategy for its war on terrorism, writes Martin Woollacott, the Bush administration now seems bent on redefining the scope and objectives of the war on a near-daily basis. Is the war being fought necessarily the one the allies signed up for? Woollacott warns that America risks alienating an international community that was already irritated by Bush’s “Lone Ranger” approach to international treaties.

Bush sets bar too high — In These Times
“Rolling up and eliminating the hydra-headed networks of the terrorist diaspora,” writes Doug Ireland, “is essentially a law enforcement problem of planetary scope. That requires an unprecedented level of international political cooperation, which in turn demands maximum political stability around the world. But Bush’s decision to militarize the anti-terrorist campaign will inevitably undermine these prerequisites.”

Oct. 10, 2001

Fast-track could slide under the radar — Small Business Survival Committee
Washington’s current crisis mindset has set the stage for the Bush administration to push for approval of some of its longstanding plans — like drilling in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge — in a distracted Congress. Now supporters of another controversial proposal — fast-track approval of international trade agreements — are using the crisis to their advantage. Fast track authority would permit the president to negotiate international trade deals without consulting Congress. House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt has said he hopes that the administration won’t try to force the issue in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Most of Congress cut out of intelligence loop — Washington Times
President George W. Bush has instructed his security advisers not to share classified information with rank-and-file members of Congress. Only the Congressional leadership will be briefed on military and law-enforcement actions, while other members will lose their access to sensitive information. A National Security Council spokesman tells the Washington Times that the Bush memorandum was a reminder of standard procedure and not an expression of the administration’s displeasure with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who discussed classified information about the Sept. 11 investigation with the press just hours after the attack.

Oct. 8, 2001

Blair puts Bush to shame — Los Angeles Times
David Corn says George W. Bush’s approach to the global war on terrorism — with its rhetoric about defending freedom worldwide — is fundamentally hypocritical. Not only do the United States’ new alliances with repressive governments perpetuate injustice rather than restore it, any effort to globalize peace and freedom would have to address fundamental cultural and economic realities in other parts of the world. Tony Blair seems to have grasped this truth, and made Bush look like a simpleton in the process. In a speech last week, Blair said, “I believe this is a fight for freedom. And I want to make it a fight for justice too … The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan — they too are our cause.”

‘Where’s Cheney?’ questions persist — Baltimore Sun
Observers are split on whether Dick Cheney’s low profile since the Sept. 11 attacks is genius, folly, or something else entirely. The administration, which has denied rumors that Cheney is seriously ill, may be keeping the vice president under wraps to avoid the appearance that he is running the show instead of his boss. But insiders say Cheney is very much involved, and likes the rumors swirling around him. “Mystery man … I like this,” Cheney reportedly smirked to an aide. But his power may be on the wane. Since Sept. 11, “We have seen the dawn of a whole new Bush presidency, which is radically different from the one that existed before,” Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution tells the Sun. “And Cheney won’t be quite the towering figure he was in the first one.”


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