[Mb-civic] NYTimes.com Article: Mr. Bush's Acceptance Speech

michael at intrafi.com michael at intrafi.com
Fri Sep 3 12:28:14 PDT 2004

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Mr. Bush's Acceptance Speech

September 3, 2004


When President Bush accepted his party's nomination last
night, he energetically presented himself as the man who
could keep America safe in a time of international
terrorism. His handlers believe that is the key to his
re-election. But if Mr. Bush intends to have a second term,
he needs to do something more - particularly if he hopes to
win by more than 500 votes this time. The president needs
to speak to the large number of moderate voters who feel
that things have been going in the wrong direction over the
last four years, and convince them that he has the capacity
to learn from mistakes and do better. On that count, his
acceptance speech fell short. 

Despite the enormous changes the United States has
undergone since the last election, from terror attacks to
recession, Mr. Bush has been sticking resolutely to the
priorities he brought into the office in 2001. He won his
tax cuts and his education initiative. American foreign
policy managed to wind up focused on the same country on
which Mr. Bush and his advisers had fixated from the

Each of those policies has cost the nation dearly: the tax
cuts have exploded the budget deficit, Mr. Bush has failed
to finance his education programs adequately, and the war
in Iraq has been fumbled from the day Baghdad fell. Nobody
expected the president to admit that any of his initiatives
had turned out to be less than smashing successes, but
wavering voters might have been buoyed by at least a hint
that the administration realizes that the course needs

Instead, the president presented troubled, half-finished
initiatives like his prescription drug plan as fully
completed tasks, just as he presented the dangerous and
chaotic situation in Iraq as a picture of triumphant
foreign policy on a par with the Marshall Plan. He tossed
out a combination of extremely vague concepts - like
creating an ownership society - along with small-bore ideas
like additional college scholarships. The combination of
minor thoughts and squishy generalities was typical of John
Kerry's convention speech as well. But Mr. Bush's
contribution doesn't raise many hopes for the level of
campaign discussion to come. 

The president, who dropped his laudable attempt to begin
desperately needed immigration reform as soon as he ran
into political resistance, gave the idea not a mention last
night. There was no hint that he realizes his "uniter, not
a divider" vow ran aground on the administration's
insistence on right-wing judicial nominees and
inflexibility on social issues like stem cell research. 

There was nothing in the speech last night that suggested a
new era of frankness from the White House, or hope that any
of those fundamental problems would be approached with
anything but the "my way or the highway" attitude Mr. Bush
has used on issues like tax cuts and Iraq. 

If Mr. Bush is rigid in his policies, he is remarkably
flexible in marketing them. Once again, the Republican
convention has led with its left, with a parade of
prime-time speakers from what might be called the far
moderate side of the party. Aside from a bizarre and nasty
assault on Mr. Kerry by Senator Zell Miller, a registered
Democrat, the tough talk was left mainly to the vice

It was depressing to hear Dick Cheney, who spoke on
Wednesday night, repeat his crowd-pleasing snipe against
Senator Kerry for calling for "a more sensitive war on
terror." It was a phony criticism, given that Mr. Bush has
used almost identical language in the past. But, worse, it
signaled that Mr. Cheney and the administration's other hit
men will spend the next two months trying to sell their
failed approach to foreign policy, and encouraging
Americans to believe that anyone who acknowledges that the
United States needs to take a more patient and humble
approach to the world is in league with the girlie men. 



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