The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated each weekday.


June 9, 2001

The Bush millennium? — New York Daily News
in the latest issue of Details magazine, actor John Cusack says Americans aren’t enraged enough about the first months of the Bush administration. “He’s sort of like this great symbol of inversion to me — the inverse of the truth. It’s like the ethics of the new millennium. All you have to do is say something and it’s true.” Cusack goes on to call GOP operatives like Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay “cryptofascists,” and says he’s especially irked at celebrities who supported Ralph Nader at Al Gore’s expense.

‘Nucular’ chaos — The Nation
Jonathan Schell says a second nuclear age has dawned — and US policy on the weapons is more confused under President Bush than it has been at any time since the weapons were invented. “Chaos would not be too strong a word to use. In fact, the greatest current danger may lie not in one policy or another but precisely in this confusion, which leaves the world’s nuclear actors without any reliable road map for the future.”

June 8, 2001

Gore returns to fighting weight — Various
Al Gore showed up at Sen. Joe Moakley’s funeral Mass last week, and on Monday he had a low-profile meeting with a Democratic supporter in Minnesota. This new willingness to be seen in public coincides with an apparent shedding some of the 40ish pounds Gore put on in the months following the election. Some are guessing the former VP may be prepping for another run at the presidency in 2004, but observers say there was “almost no discussion of a possible candidacy in 2004” at the Minnesota gathering.

Did the White House lie about cost of vandalism? — BuzzFlash
The White House has been insisting that outgoing Clinton staffers trashed the White House and Air Force One — despite a recent General Services Administration report suggesting that the damage was much less extensive than first reported. This week spokesman Ari Fleischer told The New York Times (free registration required) that the administration had to buy 100 new keyboards. But the anti-Bush Web site BuzzFlash discovered that OfficeMax donated the 100 keyboards, plus 500 replacement W keys.

The great North Korea flip-flop — Various
The Bush Administration’s just-announced intention to reopen talks with North Korea comes just four months after Secretary of State Colin Powell was rebuked by his bosses for implying that the suspended talks with Pyongyang, which had begun under the Clinton administration, would be resumed. Back then the administration seemed bent on turning back the clock on the diplomatic effort to tame a “rogue nation,” preferring to “study” US policy on the peninsula — a delay that contributed to a serious erosion in relations.

Divide and conquer — In These Times
The Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign has already begun. According to In These Times, “In 2004, Bush and Cheney are determined to actually win the election. To that end, Bush’s political team is paying inordinate attention to a set of numbers with which most Americans, even most progressives, are unfamiliar.” Among those numbers is the share of votes connected to organized labor in key states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. To counter that Democratic power center, “Bush political strategist Karl Rove is seeking to drive a wedge between blue-collar trade union members and environmentalists.” At a closed-door meeting with labor leaders last month, ITT reports, the Bush administration presented its proposed energy plan and warned that opposition from greens could slow job growth in the energy industry.

June 7, 2001

Bush’s family values hypocrisy — Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
The White House has had no comment about the Bush daughters’ recent run-ins with authorities in Texas, because, as spokesman Ari Fleischer said with clenched teeth last week, “Any reaction of the parents is parental, it is not governmental.” To that, Mitch Albom says: “Funny. It was more than parental when Bush was running for office. In fact, it was pretty governmental when he wooed voters with his fatherly dedication and paraded his family before the cameras, part of the happy, self-congratulatory Bush dynasty that seems delighted to get attention as long as it’s the right kind.”

The politics of Chuy’s — Various
When the Bush twins allegedly attempted last week to buy alcohol at Chuy’s, an Austin restaurant, the proprietors called 911 and then tipped off the Austin-American Statesman. At least one White House official intimated that the scandal was orchestrated for political gain by the left and that Chuy’s “is owned and operated by liberals.” But the owner of the restaurant, Michael Young, is no lefty; he has given more than $11,000 to GOP Senate candidates since 1998.

June 6, 2001

Inhumane energy policy — Human Rights Watch
The Bush administration’s new energy policy fails to address the tricky matter of human rights in countries where energy exploration and production are inextricably linked to corrupt regimes. The policy encourages “revisiting” human rights sanctions against energy producing nations. Says HRW director Kenneth Roth: “The point of the strategy was supposed to be less dependence on foreign oil. It sounds like more deference to foreign despots.”

Can we talk rationally about Bush v. Gore? — Jurist
We stopped arguing too soon about the legal implications of the Supreme Court decision that put George W. Bush in the White House, says constitutional scholar David Kairys. “It’s hard to tell if we’re in denial, supressing rage, or just worn out. … But a president was selected by judicial fiat. … [T]here was a historic judicial intervention that raises the most basic questions about voting, equal protection of the law, electoral systems and the nature and function of courts and lawyers. The speed with which we returned to normal — or the appearance of normal — is numbing. We really need to talk about Bush v. Gore.”

June 5, 2001
Bush blows it, Texas-style — Molly Ivins, The Nation
“It’s often hard to discern the difference between Texas Tough and Texas Stupid,” says Molly Ivins. “Sheesh, you play a little hardball, and the guy quits the party over it? So there was a slight miscalculation. As Lyndon Johnson used to say, in his charming fashion, ‘You got their peckers in your pocket, their hearts and minds will follow.’ There was just a tiny error about the localization of Jeffords’s pecker.”

Bush’s credibility gap — Consortiumnews
Robert Parry says the Bush administration’s dependence on propaganda and misleading imagery — such as posing with giant sequoias in a hollow effort to rescuscitate his environmental reputation — may create deep distrust in the American public. The administration, he warns, is setting up a “credibility gap” on par with the one created by upbeat assessments of the war in Vietnam.

Distractable Dubya — US News & World Report
“It’s no secret that President Bush isn’t the most compelling public speaker on the scene,” says Paul Bedard, “but now we learn that he even has trouble maintaining his own attention when giving a speech. Volunteers, staff, and ushers have been told to stand still when Bush is speaking.”