There are many otherwise decent Americans who are either still on the fence about George W. Bush or they actually profess to like the man. They are the ones who make up the 58% approval ratings and the 64% who say they still believe the war was a good idea. You know these people well. They work next to you, or they sit in the classroom next to you, or they may even be sitting at your kitchen table right now!
I think that we need to hold out a hand to them, not in a partisan sort of way, and not with any condescension. I think that if we share with them a few pieces of information, and do it with common sense instead of politics, there is a chance we just might break through and turn things around. Perhaps it's my foolish optimism in the goodness that is in every person, and in their ability to ultimately know right from wrong.
I would like to give you three little vignettes to share with them. They are so simple and so shocking in their very content that, if you pass them around the office, the school, the neighborhood or the bedroom, it may just do the trick. Here they are:
1. GEORGE AND LAURA ON 9/11 -- A BARREL OF LAUGHS!
The following is an interview with the First Couple from the current issue of one of my favorite magazines, Ladies Home Journal (Oct. '03). They are asked about what September 11, 2001, was like for them personally, and, although over 3,000 people had just perished, George W. was able to find some humor by the end of that day:
Peggy Noonan (the interviewer): You were separated on September 11th. What was it like when you saw each other again?
Laura Bush: Well, we just hugged. I think there was a certain amount of security in being with each other than being apart.
George W. Bush: But the day ended on a relatively humorous note. The agents said, "you'll be sleeping downstairs. Washington's still a dangerous place." And I said no, I can't sleep down there, the bed didn't look comfortable. I was really tired, Laura was tired, we like our own bed. We like our own routine. You know, kind of a nester. I knew I had to deal with the issue the next day and provide strength and comfort to the country, and so I needed rest in order to be mentally prepared. So I told the agent we're going upstairs, and he reluctantly said okay. Laura wears contacts, and she was sound asleep. Barney was there. And the agent comes running up and says, "We're under attack. We need you downstairs," and so there we go. I'm in my running shorts and my T-shirt, and I'm barefooted. Got the dog in one hand, Laura had a cat, I'm holding Laura --
Laura Bush: I don't have my contacts in , and I'm in my fuzzy house slippers --
George W. Bush: And this guy's out of breath, and we're heading straight down to the basement because there's an incoming unidentified airplane, which is coming toward the White House. Then the guy says it's a friendly airplane. And we hustle all the way back up stairs and go to bed.
Mrs. Bush: [LAUGHS] And we just lay there thinking about the way we must have looked.
Peggy Noonan (interviewer): So the day starts in tragedy and ends in Marx Brothers.
George W. Bush: THAT'S RIGHT-- WE GOT A LAUGH OUT OF IT!
Although America had just suffered the worst attack ever on our own soil, somehow this man was able to end his day on a funny note. I wonder how many of the 3,000 families who lost someone earlier that day had a funny ending before they went to sleep? Please read the above exchange aloud to anyone who will listen. It speaks volumes.
2. WE HAVE JUST WRECKED OUR KIDS' FUTURE.
The first paragraph in yesterday's New York Times story on how Bush has taken a record surplus and demolished it into a record deficit was one of the best lead paragraphs I have ever read in a newspaper article.
"When President Bush informed the nation last Sunday night that remaining in Iraq next year will cost another $87 billion, many of those who will actually pay that bill were unable to watch. They had already been put to bed by their parents."
Bingo. Gee, I hope the kids thank us some day!
Here's the next paragraph (my emphasis added):
"Administration officials acknowledged the next day that every dollar of that cost will be BORROWED, a loan that economists say will be repaid by the NEXT generation of taxpayers AND THE GENERATION AFTER THAT. The $166 BILLION cost of the work SO FAR in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has stunned many in Washington, will be added to what was already the largest budget deficit the nation has ever known."
Every conservative friend of yours should weep when they read that, and then you should hug them and tell them that it'll be okay, once we all do what we need to do.
3. WHAT WOULD $87 BILLION BUY?
If you can't get through this list without wanting to throw up, I'll understand. But pass it around anyway. This is the nail in the Iraq War's coffin for any sane, thinking individual, regardless of their political stripe (thanks to TomPaine.com and the Center for American Progress)...
To get some perspective, here are some real-life comparisons about what $87 billion means:
$87 Billion Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The United States.
The Bush administration proposed absolutely zero funds to help states deal with these deficits, despite the fact that their tax cuts drove down state revenues. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
$87 Billion Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs Under George W. Bush $26,363 Each!
The unemployment benefits extension passed by Congress at the beginning of this year provides zero benefits to "workers who exhausted their regular, state unemployment benefits and cannot find work." All told, two-thirds of unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
$87 Billion Is More Than DOUBLE The Total Amount The Government Spends On Homeland Security.
The U.S. spends about $36 billion on homeland security. Yet, Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) wrote "America will fall approximately $98.4 billion short of meeting critical emergency responder needs" for homeland security without a funding increase. [Source: Council on Foreign Relations]
$87 Billion Is 87 Times The Amount The Federal Government Spends On After School Programs.
George W. Bush proposed a budget that reduces the $1 billion for after-school programs to $600 million -- cutting off about 475,000 children from the program. [Source: The Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee]
$87 Billion Is More Than 10 Times What The Government Spends On All Environmental Protection.
The Bush administration requested just $7.6 billion for the entire Environmental Protection Agency. This included a 32 percent cut to water quality grants, a 6 percent reduction in enforcement staff, and a 50 percent cut to land acquisition and conservation. [Source: Natural Resources Defense Council]
There you go. In black and white. A few million of you will receive this letter. Please share the above with at least a half-dozen people today and tomorrow. I, like you, do not want to see another approval rating over 50%.
PS. Thanks for the astounding response to the Wesley Clark letter (and for your kind comments to me). Over 95% of the thousands of letters received favored the General tossing his helmet in the ring. All were passed on to his organization. More to come on the road to removing Bush...
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