One of the Really Serious responsibilities columnists like me
have is to point out how some straight news stories are bad news for the
President and how some are good news for the President. So you, dear
reader, don't have to read the stories themselves. You just take my
word for it.
Ready? Here's some recent bad news for the President:
(1) A July 27 AP story on a pending bill before Congress that
would make English the official language of the USA. Why? Because
English was here firstif you don't count the non-English speaking
Indians who were here long before Columbus came over.
Not that Columbus should matter because he spoke only Italian and a
little Spanishand was thereby ineligible to discover our future
And how would God feel about a country that collectively
believes English is esthetically and morally and spiritually the best of
all possible languages?
My guess is that He'd laugh so hard He'd make Himself dizzy.
And what would happen next is bad news for our country.
(2) Another bit of bad news for the administration: "Half of
Americans think Saddam Hussein's government had weapons of mass
destruction in 2003," according to a Harris Poll released on July 21.
Why, you may ask, is that bad news? Isn't that the initial
reason they gave us for invading Iraq in the first place? So isn't it
good news if half of us believe the Iraqis really did have such weapons?
The rub is that after more than three years of occupying Iraq,
all the President's men can't find any of those weapons. Which suggests
the administration is too inept to uncover the weapons they say
justified the invasion.
(3) Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld testified before the Senate
Armed Services Committee earlier this month, saying "I have never
painted a rosy picture" of the war in Iraq. "And you'd have a dickens
of a time trying to find instances where I've been excessively
So the Hearst Newspapers dug out some old Rummy quotations
like this one from Nov. 14, 2002: "I can't tell you if the use of force
in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but
it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."
And on Feb. 7, 2003, he said war with Iraq "could last, you
know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
Let's see, it's been going on now for more than 40 months.
Anyone still having a dickens of a time finding instances of Rummy's
excessive optimism? Or still believing such optimism has been good for
the U.S.? Or good news for the Bush Administration?
(4) And yet another example of the bad press they've been
getting: Last month at the Group of Eight Summit in St. Petersburg,
President Bush gave the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, what Boston
Globe columnist Joan Vennochi called an uninvited and unappreciated
"quick neck massage
The chancellor hunches her shoulders, throws up
her arms, and flashes a look of utter dismay. Women everywhere feel her
The Truth, Mainly
Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of
Virginia, told the AP that "almost any male alive today knows that you
don't offer uninvited massages to any females, much less the chancellor
The story has a certain locker-room appeal, but it's hard to
call it good news for President Bush.
(5) And the Bloomberg News reported that younger Americans
(age 18 to 24), even more than the geezer electorate, are not finding
the President appealing. His approval rate with the kids was only 20
(6) One more bad news bit. Our own GOP U.S. Senator Chuck
Hagel said this about the action in Iraq: that anarchy is taking charge
there and Bush is wrong to send more troops.
"That isn't doing any good," Sen. Hagel told the Omaha
World-Herald. "It's going to have a worse effect. They're destroying
the United States Army."
Not what you'd call good news. But I did find some upbeat
Bush news. Unfortunately it's not about the President. It's about his
The Aug. 5 Rocky Mountain News covered Laura Bush's visit to
the University of Denver where she told her audience that today's young
people need helpespecially the "190,000 children in America who have a
parent deployed overseas."
The kids, she says, are challenged by "frequent moves, and
school transitions, long-distance parenting, parents re-entering family
life after the trauma of combat, not to mention the stress of knowing
that Mom or Dad is in harm's way."
Clearly, her awareness of such things is good news for the
She ought to sit down with her husband and explain it all to
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail