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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Bashing Republicans by Republicans

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Since Sen. John Kerry’s campaign isn’t picking up much speed and lopes along from one forgettable speech to the next, maybe he should relinquish the political sniping at President Bush for a few days to Republicans and conservative commentators.

Yep, Republicans and conservatives.

They inflicted more bruises on Bush in just a few days last week in the eruption over sadism at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq than Kerry has in months.

Leading angered Republicans is former Vietnam POW, Arizona Sen. John McCain, followed by another decorated Vietnam vet, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, a reserve military lawyer – all furious by the photos but also over not being informed.

Then came conservative syndicated columnist George Will, who testily pointed out on ABC’s "This Week" what he said is President Bush’s major weakness – allowing failures by close advisers to pass without any penalty or rebuke.

The president seems totally nonplussed by the humiliation of being misled by CIA director George Tenet who promised that finding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk," about being falsely assured that Iraq was seeking nuclear materials in Africa, and being deceived into believing that Iraqis would greet U.S. troops with flowers.

None of those being blamed for the failures has been disciplined, rebuked or fired.

There may be an explanation.

Newspaper cartoonists have caricatured President Bush as a child-like innocent in Buster Brown shoes sitting on the knee of a sneering and manipulative Vice President Cheney, repeating scripted rote without a clue and asking approval of "Uncle Dick."

Bush confirms the caricature: the incurious commander-in-chief takes pride in boasting he doesn’t read newspapers or watch TV news, and instead relies on advisers to keep him in touch with current affairs when they get around to it or even choose to.

The president did not even know of the Abu Ghraib photos or the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba of mistreatment – although the conduct was known for months by Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others who deigned not to fully inform Bush of a matter now darkening the presidency and inviting global disdain for the United States.

Vice President Cheney did his part for furthering the impression that he, not President Bush, is more in charge: He issued a terse, patronizing ultimatum to congressional committees investigating the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to "get off his (Rumsfeld’s) back."

If Bush is out of the loop, Cheney is out of touch with reality.

I should’ve waited for the indefatigable Community Library reference librarian Mary McLaughlin to answer my question about the author of the proverb about a picture being worth 1,000 words I quoted in last week’s column. It’s not Chinese, as source books suppose and I wrote before she got back to me. Mary discovered it was coined in 1921 by an advertising executive, Frederick Barnard, who apparently believed the "proverb" was more believable as "Chinese" rather than words from a Madison Avenue copywriter.


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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.