On Dubya, Job Retraining Accounts, Honesty and Spiritual FaithI wrote this letter in response to a Saturday column of David Brooks, in The New York Times. In his column, Brooks offered a positive appreciation of the proposals outlined in President Bush's address at the Republican National Convention. Brooks' complete column can be found at:
These proposals were an attempt at defining the goals of 2nd Bush term - and transforming Dubya's image from that of a "war president" to a "peace president", and back to that of a "compassionate conservative". One of these proposals had actually appeared before. Had it been implemented at the time, it might have actually offered some real-world relief to unemployed Americans. Sadly, Dubya and the Republican Congress had other priorities. I could not let such hypocrisy stand unchallenged.
Dear Mr. Brooks,
With regard to the concept of job retraining accounts, the President first trotted out that pony in January 2003. It was dropped from the stimulus package that emerged from the Republican House and Senate, and the President happily signed - the package that included the dividend and capital gains reductions, etc. Dubya clearly didn't fight to have it included, but it served its purpose of feigned compassion. And now it has magically reappeared. As Dana Carvey's SNL character, "the Church Lady" would have put it: "Isn't that special?"
Dubya's singular lack of effort on behalf of the unemployed - few of which have family fortunes, or contacts on corporate boards of directors, to fall back on when hard times arrive - says everything that Americans should need to know about this man's true values, character, and alleged compassion. You see, I grew up in a Catholic Church where we regularly sang a hymn that contained these lyrics:
"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do onto me".
I have no clue what kind of Christian this guy is pretending to be, but whatever it is, it doesn't pass the smell test - at least among spiritual Americans who retain the ability to think critically and dispassionately about important issues. However, I readily understand why it sells in an America so fooled by Bush Administration/neo-con misinformation that 59% of respondents told pollsters in March 2003 that Saddam was behind 9/11. It's no wonder that the Founding Fathers were skeptical that our system of government would even last, especially with an electorate as ill-informed, and as easily duped, as the circa 2003 model.
In my view, in light of everything that happened since he ran for President in 2000, Dubya has demonstrated that he is among the most fundamentally dishonest Presidents in American history. And this fundamental dishonesty is married to a self-righteousness, and sense of personal entitlement, that is both completely unwarranted and profoundly scary. He doesn't ask his father, the only other American President to go to war in Iraq, for counsel, but instead bases his decision on his alleged relationship with his Heavenly Father? Who does he think he is, Joan of Arc? Is this the way that an American President, a nation founded on Enlightenment ideals, should be embarking upon foreign policy? Jefferson weeps.
This Administration has done nothing right, nothing at all. Dubya calls Iraq a catastrophic success. I call his tenure a catastrophic Presidency - and I predict that American Presidents for at least a decade to come will be compelled to deal with the tragic aftermath of Dubya's follies.
As for this election, forget the Time Magazine poll taken post-Arnold but pre-Zell. Those numbers are as credible as Paul Wolfowitz's claim that Iraqi oil revenues would be sufficient to pay for Iraq's reconstruction. The good news for our ongoing American experiment is that John Kerry will restore sanity, emotional balance and an Enlightenment-inspired, intellectually defensible spirituality to the nation in January 2005. As it was in Iowa in January 2004, so it will be across America in November 2004. To borrow a phrase from Thomas Wolfe, "a wind is rising, and the rivers flow."
Decision 2004: Jeffersonian Democracy or American Theocracy & Oligarchy
Kerry-Edwards: The Founding Fathers' Faith Restored.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2004. All rights reserved.
Originally published September 4, 2004; edited September 20, 2004.