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Disputatious haymakers

Apparently, everyone is mad at me for throwing a wet blanket on the “Bush is an idiot, liar, drunk, imperialist and-every-other-bad-thing-we-can-think-of” echo-chamber that resonates so well on the Times op-ed page.

One thing can be said for certain. I have failed in my task of shaming anyone into abandoning feckless critiques of Bush (or those who defend him) when registering their opinions publicly.

When I’m not being branded a “liar,” “small minded” or a “frothing at the mouth Rush Limbaugh doo-doo head” (that’s my favorite), poor George Bush is being called a fraud, murderer, thief, “tyrannical,” “insane,” and “costume leader in chief.”

As for “King George,” it is clearly a designation more meaningful for some to maintain than for me to belittle, so the distinctions between Constitutional democracy and 18th century English monarchy notwithstanding, I’ll go ahead and let ’em keep it.

Yet I won’t be so generous on the jaded issues of African uranium, “appointment” of Bush to the presidency, weapons of mass destruction, or the Iraq war itself – at least in responding to criticisms that have all the trappings of your typical “I hate Bush” Web site.

As to the sour grapes surrounding Bush’s “selection”: Florida 2000 was close. So close that the margin of victory was hemmed within the margin of error, and both sides could point to occasions where they were denied a (in what most circumstances would be an inconsequential) number of votes.

Walter Mondale’s campaign manager confessed that Bush lost thousands of panhandle votes when the media called the election in Florida too early, and that says nothing of Gore’s attempts to disqualify overseas military ballots.

The Supreme Court was called upon to resolve the circus and, despite the cries of “states-rights” among reliable “states-rights” enemies, had every authority under Article II to intervene – if only to prevent an impending Constitutional disaster.

As to the exasperating issue of African uranium, nobody in tune with the facts can honestly assert that Bush “lied” in his State of the Union address when he attributed uranium sales from Africa to the British.

I’m fascinated at what is so hard to understand about the fact that the British maintain that they have evidence to support this claim which is independent of the forged documents and which they have not disclosed to the C.I.A. Unless someone can present evidence that the British are lying and Bush knows it, they’re the ones who’ll need to “get over it.”

As for the elusive WMD, in every claim that Bush lied is wrapped a claim that the world lied. Blix lied. Chirac lied. Putin lied. The U.N. lied. They all alleged that Hussein had illegal weapons programs, and unanimously signed onto an international resolution which everyone agreed he was contravening.

And finally to the war itself. The long-term cost/benefit outcome of the geostrategic positioning of America in the heart of the most volatile terrorist breeding-ground in the world is difficult to ascertain.

What’s clear is that simply highlighting the short-term costs (in lives or money) or reliance on silly innuendo as to “hidden” motives (Halliburton, indeed!) will not do that analysis justice.

To the contrary, Bush’s adversaries seem so busy swinging disputatious haymakers that they can’t just take a breath and discuss the issues like adults.

Jay Pate

Snowmass Village


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