The Truth, Mainly - 08/14/2006

Bad news, good news for Bush
by Leon Satterfield

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 first—if 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 Spanish—and was thereby ineligible to discover our future English-speaking country.

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 optimistic."

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 discomfort."

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 of Germany."

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 percent.

(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 wife.

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 help—especially 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 administration.

She ought to sit down with her husband and explain it all to him.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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