Bush: Portrait of a president detached

President George W. Bush must take action himself if he expects change.

The United States needs a president involved with the country and aware of the problems affecting its citizens. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly evident George W. Bush is not that president.  

Bush was a presidential candidate who could not identify world leaders, mispronounced names and gave vague answers to important questions during debates. He stood behind buzz phrases such as “compassionate conservatism” and “no child left behind.”

That’s all right, we all thought, it’s just politics. It’s what politicians do to get elected.

 But a curious thing happened on the way to the party. Rather than surround himself with blunt people in tune with the state of world affairs, he surrounded himself with people who shared his beliefs and mindset and would serve as yes-men and women.

The result is a White House that exists in a bubble – afflicted with a serious case of ignorance and groupthink. The president admits he does not read newspapers. He rarely holds press conferences. When he does, a polemic news media almost never asks him hard questions. The world to him is what his advisers say it is, and his ineffectual naivete has surfaced time and time again.

June 30

More than a year ago, Bush proclaimed that hostilities in Iraq were over atop an aircraft carrier and in front of a banner reading “Mission Accomplished.” Since then, over 700 U.S. soldiers have died and the situation continues to spiral into chaos.

The most dramatic deterioration of U.S. efforts in Iraq was last week’s raid of Ahmed Chalabi’s home, in effect terminating this nation’s relationship with the man it had hoped to establish as the new leader of Iraq’s Governing Council.

Yet Bush insists, and will likely say so again in an address scheduled for tonight, that the country will become independent June 30. Yes, in 37 days Iraq will be ready to go.

I understand many want us out of Iraq. But reports from Iraq show factions vying for control and dangerous conditions that continue to dominate the landscape. A complete U.S. withdrawal in one month is naive at best and dangerous at worst.

Bush continues to cite this date without providing a cohesive plan for how this transition will occur. He admitted last week he does not even know who will lead the new Iraq. That, he said, will be decided “soon.”

Could the president be more out of touch on this issue? Not only does he fail to give weight to the dead U.S. soldiers coming back in boxes, but he is oblivious to the worsening situation. He cites a timeline and a course of action that sound politically and morally ideal, but are out of step with reality.

$2.20 per gallon

Over the past two months oil prices have steadily climbed, week by week, to a historical high last week. Driving around Saturday, I saw gas selling for $2.20 per gallon.

 The first reaction I saw from the president occurred as prices neared the $2 mark, and consisted solely of a vague call for “action” to deal with the situation.

Calling Bush callow and ineffective might be going too far, but the president must take action himself if he expects situations to change. There are options before him: temporarily lower the gas tax or open the national gas reserves (a stockpile of nearly 700 million barrels). Instead, gas now costs more than ever with no relief in sight and no solid plan from our nation’s leader.

I won’t even go into Bush’s unrealized promises concerning renewable energy in his State of the Union speech.

The almighty dollar

Last week the Bush campaign topped $200 million in fund-raising. This is more than five months away from the election, during a time of war and occurring just as the country appears to be crawling out of a recession.

Even more amazingly, he has already spent $126 million funding his re-election efforts.

How much money does the president really need for his campaign? More than it costs to produce, market and distribute the movie “Troy”? And why is he devoting so much of his time, while still a world leader, to touring the country in search of the almighty dollar?

As of May 2, the Washington Post reported the United States is holding more than 600 prisoners indefinitely at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Most have been in custody for two years, have not been charged with a crime and have never seen a lawyer. Bush has raised more than $333,333 per Cuban prisoner.  

As of last week, more than 795 soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Bush has raised more than $251,570 per military death.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.2 million Americans were unemployed in April. Bush has raised just about $25 per out-of-work American.

Just a little perspective for a president who needs it badly.

Steve Snyder welcomes comments at [email protected]