11.26.2004

Where does the buck belong?

Tennessee recently announced that it was ending the Tenn-care medical insurance program for some reason or another (sorry, I didn't keep up). An op-ed in today's newspaper criticized an earlier op-ed writer for saying it was Bush's fault (ironically, today's op-ed was followed by another that blamed it on Bush). That seems fair, I mean, what did Bush have to do with it? It's apparent that Bush doesn't give a damn about people's health insurance (although the democrat's idea of making the government pay for it is just as bad) but I don't know how you could blame Bush for Tenn-care.

It got me to thinking about how Bush gets blamed for a lot of things. In other fora, I myself have been accused of blaming him for everything though that's never been the case. It's funny because when discussing politics online people rarely bother to read what you say and would rather accuse you of being a liberal, a blame-bush-first person, or whatever other lame name they can think of when if they'd just read what you're saying they'd see that you're not blaming anyone or even oftentimes defending Bush.

It's silly, but there are people who blame Bush for everything just as there are those who blamed everything on Clinton. But, fact is, the office of the president isn't supposed to be responsible for everything. Somewhere along the line it took on a lot more power that it was supposed to, but still, not everything is up to the president.

Some examples of things that I don't really think are the president's responsibility are crime, the court system, and jobs. There are many others right now, but I have mental block.

Sure, the president can make decisions which may affect these things in one way or another, but I don't see any of them as his sole responsibility.

I always thought that people who blamed Bush for everything were only doing so because they hated the guy but I realized there's a better explanation. He becomes a lightening rod because he takes credit for everything. This is somewhat true of any president, but this administration not only has an ego problem, but an Orwellian problem of turning bad news into good as well. And so, if you listen to Bush, he singlehandedly created the Department of Homeland Security, stopped corporate crime on his own, tightened up airport by himself, turned a bad economy into a great one without help, won two wars by himself, gave jobs to hundreds of thousands of people, and even found time to make the trains run on time.

There's really nothing that happens that the administration doesn't try to praise him for. Just look at Drudgereport right now (I would link but it'll disappear within hours anyway). Drudge is a fairly reliable mouthpiece of the administration so it's no surprise that one of the top stories is titled "REPORT: BUSH AVERTED COLOMBIA TERROR THREAT..."

Wow, it sounds like Bush did something really slick to get the better of some terrorists who were planning an attack. Go Bush!

The link goes to a Washington Times story which says nothing of the sort. It says that intelligence officials had reports that indicated FARC was planning a bombing or shooting during Bush's visit. The intelligence officials didn't say FARC was going to target Bush, but the republican-friendly Washington Times seems to have no problem inferring that in the first sentence.

A little common sense and knowledge of intel, journalism and how they go together is in order. When I read the story I come to this conclusion: FARC carries out attacks like this all the time but do not have the means, and probably don't have the desire to go after the U.S. president. The intelligence officers called the information "reports coming from the region" which means some security folk in Columbia mentioned that FARC was active and to be on the look-out but said nothing of them targeting Bush himself. If Bush was really named as a target we would have seen 10 times the amount of security. Simple as that, that's how they always do it.

But remember Drudge's headline: "REPORT: BUSH AVERTED COLOMBIA TERROR THREAT..." It's no mistake that it was put up there on Friday. No one will have access to ask any government spokespeople about the story until Monday, and by then it will be forgotten. So Bush supporters will read it and think that not only is he whipping Islamic terrorism around the globe single handedly, but he's also flying to Columbia and stopping them in person, and anyone who didn't vote for him is just plain nuts. I mean, the guy is superman for cryin' out loud.

Before today, I would not have criticized Bush over Columbia. He's only carrying out the same policies there that we've been using for years. Propping up a corrupt government and training them to kill rebels. Nothing new.

Now that he's trying to take credit for "averting the Columbia terrorist threat", I think he's fair game.

Call me a "blame bush firster" or whatever you want, but anyone who tries to take credit for something that they didn't do or something that never happened in the first place becomes a fair target for criticism on that issue.



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