My Turn: Bush support is baffling

Posted: Monday, August 09, 2004

I 've been baffled when rational people tell me they like President Bush because they trust him. So far, I haven't noticed that he's kept many promises other than invading Iraq and rewarding his wealthy backers with tax cuts, less government oversight, and government contracts upon which they often don't have to pay U.S. income tax.

Bush criticizes John Kerry for "flip-flopping," yet Bush has a history of making promises and not backing them up with deeds.

Bush promised to give New York City $90 million in federal aid but the money was shifted to a separate $5.1 billion spending plan which Bush rejected.

After the Enron collapse, Bush promised to get tough with corporate malfeasance and then proposed 40 percent less than authorized funding for the Securities Exchange Commission which is in charge of catching corporate crooks.

When Bush's own company, Harken Energy, was tanking in 1990, Bush failed to report to the SEC that he was dumping 25,000 shares of his stock. This is legally required so that other investors in the company will know when executives are selling their stock to alert them to possible insider trading. Bush wasn't punished for this by the SEC at the time, perhaps because Richard Breeden was the head of the SEC and he was a Bush Sr. appointee. Breeden never asked for an interview with Dubya when the SEC investigated the transaction and since 1993, Breeden and other partners of the Baker (James Baker III) Botts law firm have contributed at least $210,621 to Dubya's political campaigns.

Bush's No Child Left Behind program froze after-school centers so 50,000 fewer children could be served. Bush proposed only 18 percent of the funding increase that was in his own new program.

In 2001, Bush's delegates to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights were so uncooperative that the Europeans refused to re-elect the U.S. to the commission for the first time ever.

Bush also backed out of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to ban all nuclear tests.

In 2001, Bush backed out of the 1995 draft accord on a Biological Weapons Convention to rid the world of biological weapons and then moved to weaken the Small Arms Control Treaty.

In 2002, Bush unsigned the Rome Treaty establishing an International Criminal Court and announced it would provide neither information nor cooperation. The court is an outgrowth of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague in which Slobodan Milosevic is being tried.

Recently, while praising the U.S. military, Bush announced plans for massive cuts in veterans' health care benefits.

I think some of this unquestioning support for President Bush comes from the Christian right and from others who just want to believe what they want to believe. It's difficult to argue with these folks because, as Jonathan Swift once observed, "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into." H.L. Mencken thought that one of the greatest threats to American democracy was from the Puritan strain in American religion. Mencken thought that religious fanatics would try to push their irrational beliefs down the throats of their fellow citizens as they have done off and on throughout our history. Today, the Republican Party's most fervid support comes from the religious right and it has not only upset the balance of this country, but that of the world.

• Lisle Hebert is a social worker, filmmaker and a Juneau theater owner.

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