Sunday, July 03, 2005

Just One Question

A few weeks back, President Bush gave a speech at Montgomery Blair HS in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was rather controversial, since not a single member of the student body--nor anybody from the town of Silver Spring, was allowed to attend. While Bush's restrictive "town meeting" rules are by now old news, this one hit particularly close to home for me since the school is only 20 minutes away from my house (I went to a different High School, but same school district).

So that got me to thinking--if you could get past that lovely barricade Bush has up between himself and independent thinkers, what would you say? If you got the chance to ask just one question or make just one comment, what would it be?

Here's mine:
President Bush, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ask this question. A few weeks ago, one of my friends enlisted in the army. I told her how proud I was of her, and how she was an incredible person for standing up for what she believed in. Apparently, all her friends had just told her that she was going to die, and I was the first to simply thank her for her selfless choice.

That got me to thinking. I supported--and still support--both our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. I went to a very liberal High School and attend a very liberal college, so being an Iraq war supporter caught me a lot of flak--all the more so because I'm a Democrat. But I believe strongly that the only way to make our world safer is to improve the lives of those suffering under tyranny--creating stable, liberal, democracies which don't slaughter their own citizens. So I persist in my support, because I know that it is the only way for America to win the war on terror--and failure would be disastrous.

Mr. President, I want you to know how hard you and your party have made it for people like me to continue to support this war. Top members of your party accuse Democrats--any Democrat--who questions our progress in Iraq of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." Words like "treason" seem to fall off the lips of some of your key supporters on a regular basis--and you do nothing to repudiate them. Everything from the FMA to the Flag Burning Amendment to the Energy Bill has been justified on the basis of 9/11--3,000 people didn't die to become convenient political footballs for Karl Rove. Just last week, your Deputy Chief of Staff said that liberals--all liberals, including, presumably, the hawkish ones like me--wanted to give "therapy" to terrorists after 9/11. Only 1 member of congress dissented from the decision to go to Afghanistan--such a blanket statement is shocking, outrageous, and hurtful to the thousands of us who have advocated vociferously for aggressive American responses to terror. It is also sadly indicative. Given the opportunity to work with Democrats on the Department of Homeland Security, you instead decided to use it as a bludgeon in election 2002. Given the chance to find out, once and for all, what we could have done better before 9/11, you decided to obstruct and stonewall. Given the chance to come clean about where we are on Iraq, you stay behind your spin wall and blithely maintain that nothing has gone wrong. And all the while, there has never been any room in the coalition of the willing for willing Democrats--who were hounded out of office in 2002 and 2004 for not having a little "R" after their name. This is not the behavior of a wartime President. It's the behavior of a President at war--with the opposing party.

Mr. President, upon election you promised to be a "uniter, not a divider." You broke that promise. Myself and other Democrats like me rallied behind you on 9/11 and again before Iraq--you betrayed us. You decided that picking up a few seats in congress was worth more than sending America off to war united as one. Charlie Stenholm, Martin Frost, Max Cleland, Tom Daschle--all voted for yea on Iraq, all defeated in bitter, nasty, partisan campaigns because they refused to pledge loyalty to every word that came out of your mouth. Politics is all well and good, Mr. President, but not when we're at war.

I don't think you can regain the trust you've lost. But I'm willing to give you this chance to try. What do you have to say to the legions of moderate, centrist Democrats and liberals who feel like you've spent the last three years stabbing them in the back?

That's what I want to say. What about you?


Anonymous said...



Well Done


I am not a supporter of this war, but I certainly agree with why you do support the effort.
I hope he reads this and answers your question publicly. But, don't hold your breath.

N.S.T said...

It's politics Schraub. A Democratic administartion would play their hand exactly the same way. The White House, no matter which party controls it, has an interest in avoiding hostile crowds which provide the potential for both a lack of productivity and the President looking bad. Having actually lived in Silver Spring, I think it hits even closer to home for me, and would, without boastnig, submit that I'm better qualified to weigh in on the good and, shall I say, misguided people of S.S. and it's sister area, Tacoma Park. The latter place especially is a magnet for the kind of blindly partisan, severely uninformed and stupid people who specifically wouldn't add to substantive debate. Why, then, would the President have no objection to holding such a gathering in rural Mississippi or some such place, and allowing open participation? It jsut so happens that the uninformed partisan wackos in that scenario wouldn't be predisposed to make the POTUS look bad. Again, it's politics, and I doubt that any other president, regardless of political persuasion, would've played the situation differently.

Mark said...

I think Bush came to Washington with a history of being a "uniter" and with his first education bill, tried to do exactly that. Promote a program which was part of the Dems agenda, which he saw as something that could start a working relationship with the other side of the aisle. And he got burned. Badly. Once burned is twice shy, and he's since given up on getting fair shakes from the other side of the aisle.

And you know (probably better than I) how irrational and spite filled the random Democrat can be these days. Heck, there are members of Congress that probably would prefer to spit than give him the time of day. What possible reason would he have to give that crowd a stage? He isn't going to persuade them ... I fear that nothing can.

David Schraub said...

I'm confused where you come to that conclusion, Mark. First of all, Bush's first item of business when he was elected was not the education bill, it was his highly divisive tax cut, which he rammed through over staunch Democratic opposition (and via dishonest arguments to boot, both about cost and distribution). The second major bill was NCLB, which, I'd remind you, had Ted Kennedy as co-sponsor and held the support of many Democrats. What got our ire up on that was that after passage, Bush refused to allocate the funding he promised. Though both issues kind of got swamped in the post 9/11 mood, I clearly remember many Democrats who agreed to put aside past grievances and work with Bush on NCLB who felt betrayed when Bush through the funding to the wolves to pay for his tax cuts. Shadows of things to come, they'd (and I'd) say.

Obviously, we're going to disagree about who "burned" whom with regard NCLB (or perhaps its both). But regardless, Bush did fire the first shot with the tax cut. And anyway, he got a total clean slate after 9/11--EVERYONE was willing to put the past behind them and start anew. That chance he blew badly, and you can't pin it on the Democrats head when he was the one who spurned their support for the DHS in order to bludgeon them in election 2002.

For many folks, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I hung on through the Iraq war--and I've been made to feel like a sucker for it.

Anonymous said...

NST: That my son, was a load of drivel.

I'm a Texan.

I have never supported GW, not when he was governor and certainly not now.

George bankrupted just about every company he owned, taking to the farm all his investors by getting out before his failings could swamp his assets. The only business he ever owned that did well was his baseball team! Wonder why he took a deficit and made it into the biggest debt this nation has ever seen? It wasn't by giving away collective goods!

George also tried his Grand Plan (No Child Left Behind)For Public Education in Texas ... and guess what...Texas schools are now ranked 49th out of 50 states. No Child Left Behind, like Healthy Forests and Clear Skies sounds really good doesn't it (?)...but, its not, all of those programs/policies are exactly opposite of what their name portrays. Can you say 'framing'?

Additionally, GW left the education program in such a mess that all they teach now are the TOS/TAKS test GW instituted to see how teachers were doing educating children and further to penalize those schools and school districts due to this bad policy on his part: No Child Left Educated Beyond the 8th Grade. And, the state can not resolve school finance due to this mess and has been paying the feds a 1.5 million dollar fine yearly because the schools are not properly funded, fairly for each child. Oh yeah, this whole ball of crap has gone to the Supreme Court who will take care of the state's school issues for them if Gov. Perry can't.

So, I guess we really want Bush's bad education policy on a federal level.... well, you wanted it and now you've got it. They passed that atrocious bill nationally in 2002(yr? or 2001)...a duplicate of the Texas plan.

Signed: Spiteful Random Comments from a Texan

David: ^5 man!

N.S.T said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.