Reuters leads with this headline this morning: “Bush Rejects Kerry on Terror War, Economy.” Which leaves me wondering why the press is covering this as though President Bush’s advice on how we should vote is more important than the actual issues of the war and the economy. Of course Bush rejects Kerry—he’s not going to vote for Kerry, ferchrissake, so the headline isn’t news and doesn’t make sense as a hook for anyone’s attention.
Reading past the strangely dumb headline, however, you get this astonishing litany of misstatements, to take a phrase from the President:
CITY, Iowa (Reuters) – President Bush (news – web sites) charged on Wednesday that Democrat John Kerry (news – web sites) has a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the war on terrorism because he does not see Iraq (news – web sites) as a theater of that conflict.
Bush, in a Reuters interview aboard Air Force One, also rejected criticism from the Massachusetts senator that he will be the first president since Depression-era Herbert Hoover to preside over an economy that has lost jobs under his tenure.
First, Kerry clearly sees and has articulated that he sees Iraq as a theater in the War on Terror, precisely because Bush made it a theater in the War on Terror. That country was not a hotbed of terrorist activity or recruitment prior to the war; Afghanistan was, so too were Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but Iraq was a sideshow and a small one, at that.
President Bush, “wearing an Air Force One flight jacket,” said of the Iraqi theater: “Zarqawi is a terrorist. We are fighting Mr. Zarqawi in Iraq. My opponent seems to think that if we were not fighting in Iraq, he would become a peaceful citizen. Zarqawi would be plotting, planning, ready to strike. He must be defeated there, so we do not face him here.”
Okay, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to be fighting just Zarqawi and al Queda, not the majority of Iraqis? Wouldn’t not killing 10,000 or 20,000 innocent people in Iraq be a better way to discourage terrorist recruitment? Whether we like Saddam or not, he was the Iraqi’s asshole and they could blame him and not us for the abuse he heaped on his people; now we’re in the center of that shitstorm, thanks to Mr. Bush. Failing to recognize how we must gracefully exit the war we started is a more egregious “fundamental misunderstanding” than anything Bush has accused Kerry of misunderstanding.
Bush may “reject” criticism about his economic performance, but there is no rational way to discount the one-and-a-half to two million Americans who had jobs when Bush took office but do not today. Moreover, Bush is responsible for widening unemployment that isn’t accounted for in that figure, because so many people have entered the workforce—about a quarter million a month—that unemployment has climbed from 3.8 percent just before the 2000 election to 5.4 percent today.
If you look at the number of people not in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number has increased by almost six million since 2000—that’s a lot of folks who have just given up on working (see the table below). This is where the one percent decrease in labor force participation rates since 2000 comes from: Bush’s policies have driven people out of the workforce, contrary to the conservative argument that they create an environment where people are more motivated to work. If the President creates disincentives to employment, he ought to be removed from office by the voters, no?
Finally, Mr. Bush said he “questioned whether members of the U.S. Congress should receive flu shots as recommended by a Capitol Hill doctor due to shortages of the vaccine.” If he has a problem with this, why not exercise some of that vaunted leadership or, as he has with other issues he feels strongly about, act decisively to prevent healthy Capitol Hill workers and legislators from receiving flu shots on the public dime?
Follow the “more” link to see a table describing participation in the workforce.
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