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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 20 - 26, 2002


The fickle mind of President Bush

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

We have the word of George W. Bush that he won’t use the war on terrorism for political purposes, right?

Many Americans are gullible enough to buy into that, of course.

But they should consider how the president is playing politics with terrorism.

Foremost in the strategy is the president’s constant, unrelenting, often tiresome speeches he makes wherever he goes—that America is at war and Americans will pay whatever price is required in the war on terrorism.

This tactic is designed to immunize him against criticism of domestic programs that are veering the nation toward economic instability by attempting to demonize anyone who criticizes him as unsympathetic to the war on terrorists.

(Last week, as proof of the conditioning of public attitudes, there was an angry Letter to the Editor in the Boise newspaper lambasting a columnist as "unpatriotic" for criticizing Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne during these times.)

"War" talk also allows the president to conceal his hypocrisy.

Such as: while campaigning for president in 2000, Bush was harshly critical of the Crusader howitzer, an $11 billion artillery system proposed in 1992 during the Clinton years that Bush’s own defense adviser, John Hillen, sneeringly described as "the best artillery piece that engineers and strategists of the 1970s could ever imagine."

Bush himself said he’d terminate the Crusader as "too heavy" and "not lethal enough" for modern warfare.

Ah, but candidate Bush’s disdain for an obsolete weapon has been overtaken by the enthusiasm of President Bush, who suddenly finds the weapon necessary – his reawakening came after discovering that his father and some pals from Bush the Elder’s White House years (former Secretary of State James Baker and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci) are principals in the Carlyle Group, whose company, United Defense Industries Inc., will manufacture the Crusader artillery gun and win the $11 billion contract.


And then there’s this change of heart from the former Texas governor who promised as president he’d show more respect for the needs of the states.

As governor of Texas, Bush railed against President Clinton and Congress for failing to reimburse states for costs of imprisoning illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

Said Gov. Bush in 1995 while suing Washington for $5 billion: "If the federal government cannot do its job of enforcing the borders, then it owes the states monies to pay for its failure."

But now: Bush’s new budget abandons the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which last year budgeted $535 million for hundreds of state and local governments to pay costs of keeping illegal immigrant criminals behind bars.

Bush’s spokesperson argues that the program doesn't "advance the core mission of the Justice Department."

Figure that one.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.