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.

| Fri Oct. 26, 2001 3:00 AM EDT

Oct. 26, 2001

Without Bush, Senate GOP loses steam on judicial nominees -- Roll Call
Senate Republicans, "realizing that President Bush would not be able to mount a campaign of public pressure on the Democratic majority," have backed off on a ploy to push through the president's federal judicial nominees, Paul Kane reports. Republican leaders reportedly believe that Bush is too focused on terrorism to work with them on other GOP priorities. Senate Republicans had maintained a three-week filibuster of several key spending bills, hoping that by preventing the votes they would persuade Democrats to reach a compromise on judicial nominees -- most of whom could face tough hearings in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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Bush's chaste America -- The Guardian (UK)
"Abstinence, politically speaking, is the new abortion and, like abortion, it has come to a head under the current Bush administration," says The Guardian (UK). Federal policy on sex has become so prudish that sex education programs are not only required to encourage abstinence, but to push marriage. In Bush's America, right-wing groups using psychologically abusive scare tactics (such as likening using a condom to playing Russian roullette or telling young gays that they will die and go to hell) to prevent premarital sex are receiving more federal money than ever before, as education and contraception organizations such as Planned Parenthood are cut off.

Oct. 26, 2001

The televised greatness of George W. Bush -- San Francisco Bay Guardian
George W. Bush's television persona has gone in the past six weeks from bumbling deer-in-the-headlights to comfortable, authoritative leader. But media critic Norm Solomon argues the president isn't really any more articulate or commanding than before -- the public simply needs to perceive him as such in a time of crisis. Professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of the Bush-bash book "Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder," says the mid-September address to Congress, which is widely seen as Bush's redeeming oratorical moment, wasn't really all that good. "The speech was deemed 'Churchillian' because the audience -- the American people, Congress, the media -- was so desperate for a proper leader at that fearful moment," Miller claims. "At that moment of catastrophe, there was so fierce a hunger for a national father figure that the audience saw one in the president, who therefore came across like Churchill, or like FDR, despite his lack of stature, which, prior to the shock, had been quite clear to most observers."

Bush may shield more corporations from liability -- Reuters
Since George W. Bush limited airlines' exposure to liability following the terrorist attacks last month, other industries accustomed to getting regulatory favors from the Bush administration have been anxious to line up similar deals. Saying it's only fair that all companies be treated equally, the White House says it is considering extending the shield to a wide range of other companies, from the aerospace giant Boeing to the architectural firms that designed buildings destroyed in the attack.

Oct. 25, 2001

Can Bush afford to get political again? -- The New York Times
President Bush had been scheduled to headline a GOP fundraising event this week (as reported in last week's Bush Files), his first since Sept. 11. But while Bush's firebrand adviser Karl Rove thought it was time to get back to campaign-coffer-stuffing business as usual, Vice President Dick Cheney and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card decided that such an appearance at a partisan event would be inappropriate, according to Richard L. Berke. Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director said Bush would send Cheney in his stead (despite the fact the invitations bill the event as "An Evening with George W. Bush"). "President Bush just returned from China and is focusing on the war effort," Bartlett said.

Is a quieter Bush a better Bush? -- Christian Science Monitor
Noting that several national figures have suggested that President Bush is "talking to the public too much," Godfrey Sperling says the president should consider the risks his seemingly constant presence on the airwaves could pose. "Will he overexpose himself on TV and thus weaken his ability to influence the public? Will he say something off the cuff that damages our foreign relations? Those are the risks," Sperling claims. While saying that Bush has "been doing a fine job keeping us informed and united," Sperling suggests that the talkative president "could be a little more restrained in his willingness to make powerful pronouncements."

Throwing fuel on the fire? -- The Associated Press
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing sweeping changes to state rules governing seasonal fuel mixtures, most of which are designed to meet local anti-pollution requirements. Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman said the proposed changes are designed to "ensure that using summer blend fuel is not a contributor to price hikes," but John Heilprin reports the agency is also proposing "fewer data reporting requirements and "broader testing tolerance'' for things such as volatility of fuels and levels of cancer-causing benzene. An EPA official admits that making the changes without harming air quality "is the problem."

Oct. 23, 2001

Norton admits error on caribou data -- Various
Environmentalists are calling for Interior Secretary Gale Norton's resignation in the wake of reports that she misrepresented the findings of a US Fish & Wildlife Service report in Congressional testimony, reports the Denver Post. Norton admitted last week to having made "mistakes" in summarizing scientific data on the effect of oil drilling on caribou herds. But Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says Norton's explanation -- that she inadvertently used the wrong word in a report -- isn't convincing: "A Cabinet secretary lied to the Senate," he charges.

Bush to kids: Got a dollar? -- The American Red Cross
Just when you thought you'd seen every possible combination of politics and fundraising, here's the Red Cross press release promoting "America's Fund for Afghan's Children." This is the fund President Bush was referring to earlier this month when he asked American children to send dollar bills to the White House, promising that the cash would be used to help Afghans; the press release features photos of the president literally gathering up bills from eager pre-adolescents.

Oct. 22, 2001

O'Neill under fire -- The Washington Times
Congressional conservatives are reportedly calling for the head of Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill over his insufficient enthusiasm in supporting new tax cuts, The Washington Times's Dave Boyer reports. Besides having criticized Bush's original tax-cut, O'Neill recently called the new proposal for another $100 billion in tax cuts "show business".

War resuscitates Rumsfeld -- Chicago Tribune
People whose careers are getting a bounce from the aftermath of Sept. 11: Pashtun-speaking CIA agents, professors of biochemistry, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Tribune's John M. Donnelly reports that Rumsfeld's consistently calm, in-control performances at his near-daily press briefings have firmed up his public image and his position in the Bush administration -- a position many thought was precarious prior to the terror attacks.

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