The Gadflyer: Believe

another one for the scrapbook: Thomas F. Schaller, The Gadflyer: Believe


Why I believe in our president

by Thomas F. Schaller, Executive Editor

I believe in President George W. Bush. I’ve always believed him.

I believe the president invaded Iraq to secure liberty and democracy for the Iraqi people. I believe he had compelling evidence that Iraq was a significant threat to America and the world, and presented that evidence in a complete and balanced manner. Like 42 percent of Americans – and 62 percent of Republicans – I believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks.

I believe we have enough troops on the ground in Iraq to ensure stability. I believe the rising American fatality rates, the rising casualty rates, and the rising American share of those coalition fatalities and casualties testify to the undeniable progress we’re making there. I believe it is inappropriate and traitorous, however, for the media to broadcast pictures of American flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq.

I believed then-candidate Bush when he said during the 2000 campaign that America should not nation-build, and believe him now when he says our nation was divinely chosen for this task. I believe, as the president claims, that “free societies are peaceful societies,” but that the political and civil rights in oppressive, undemocratic countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are exempt from this standard. I believe Iraqis view Americans as liberators, and that once this swift, cheap war concludes the world will be more stable, our allies more cooperative, and our enemies fewer and less threatening.

I believe the best response against an Islamic fundamentalist network operating from a South Asian cave which used boxcutters to attack us is to invade a secular Arab dictator living in 11 palaces in a Middle Eastern country whose (supposed) weapon of choice was nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. I further believe that the best way to accomplish that mission was to land on air aircraft carrier in military garb and stand in front of a banner declaring it so.

I believe the president when he says he would have moved “heaven and earth” had he any “inkling” that terrorists were planning to attack America with hijacked airplanes. I believe the security briefing the president read five weeks before the attacks — which was entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside United States,” and specifically mentioned hijacked airplanes and New York City as a target — was an inkling-free, “historical” document. I believe we should re-double our investments in a missile defense system, which could have prevented the 9/11 attacks and will prevent future attacks like it from occurring.

I believe the president was right to oppose the formation of the 9/11 Commission, to change his mind but then oppose fully funding it, to change his mind but then oppose granting its request for an extension, to change his mind but refuse to testify for more than an hour, to change his mind but then testify alongside Vice President Dick Cheney so long as transcripts and note-taking were prohibited. I believe the investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shows it was the fault of a handful of misguided underlings who simply misunderstood a memo signed by the Secretary of Defense which authorized the use of dogs to interrogate prisoners.

Domestically, I believe income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are the solution to budget surpluses or deficits, high or low inflation, stable or unstable interest rates, expanding or shrinking trade deficits, widening or narrowing wealth gaps, increasing or decreasing poverty rates, rising or falling unemployment, prosperity or recession, wartime or peace. I believe record-setting budget deficits, record-setting trade deficits, and a burgeoning national debt are examples of the president’s fiscally-conservative economic leadership.

I believe that a president who insists that hard-working Americans deserve tax breaks should continue to stand fast against cutting payroll taxes — the direct tax on hard work. Clearly, I do not believe that payroll taxes coupled with income taxes on work constitute “double taxation,” but the dividend tax on assets does. I believe those who complain that one third of American children live in poverty, or that the wealthiest nation on the planet should feel sheepish about having 45 million uninsured citizens, deserve California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ridicule as “economic girlie men.”

I believe the best way to improve local-run schools is to spend billions of dollars on a massive, federal testing program to tell us our schools are failing. I do not believe, however, that requiring local school districts to meet new, federal standards without resources is an example of an “unfunded mandate.” I believe the president’s education initiative will leave no child behind, much as his “clear skies” and “healthy forests” initiatives will make skies clearer and forests healthier.

Finally, I believe a white man of privilege who was accepted to Yale University despite a middling performance in prep school; was accepted to Harvard Business School despite a middling performance at Yale; was admitted to the Texas Air National Guard despite no flight background and an entrance exam score in the bottom quartile; was given funds by Osama bin Laden’s father to start a failed oil company; and was chosen to serve as Texas governor and 43rd President of the United States despite a lifelong record of mediocrity, is a man with the moral authority to criticize affirmative action as a policy that gives opportunities to the undeserving.

Make no mistake: I believe that President Bush, just as he promised he would, has restored honor and integrity to the White House and united us as Americans.

*Note to readers: Though I often disagreed with the views expressed by the late Michael Kelly, I always respected his opinions and, especially, his style – which he famously displayed in his February 4, 1998 Washington Post column. I do not intend to denigrate Mr. Kelly, his life or his life’s work by so blatantly appropriating his rhetorical style; indeed, I consider the imitation posthumously flattering.