Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few weeks, you know that Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the Iraq, has asked to speak directly with President Bush about the war and has vowed to remain camped outside Bush’s Crawford home until he consents. In explaining his refusal to meet with Sheehan, Bush stated “I think it’s also important for me to go with my life, to keep a balanced life.” As evidence of this, Bush recently attended a GOP-fund raising barbecue and a Little League baseball game and took a two-hour-long bike ride with Lance Armstrong.
It’s hard to argue against a “balanced life.” We all know that too much work can lead to undue stress and poor judgement. When work overwhelms, leisure can provide a useful counterbalance and result in more productive and thoughtful work. My problem with Bush is that I do not see the counterbalance to his leisure time.
With this incurious president, it is really difficult to see any evidence of mental stress. Al Qaeda? While vacationing in 2001, Bush apparently ignored the August 6th PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” which even noted the possibility that commercial planes might be used as missiles. According to the ”’NY Times,”’ after receiving the PDB, Bush “broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing.” WMDs? Looking for any excuse to invade Iraq, Bush did not question the CIA’s phony intelligence [sic] and eagerly accepted George Tenet’s word (the now infamous “slam dunk”) regarding Iraq’s arsenal. Social Security? Earlier this year, Bush spent about 2 months crisscrossing the country urging changes to Social Security but to this day has yet to deliver a written plan outlining his specific proposals to Congress for debate. Energy plan? Being an oil man himself, it didn’t take much thought to include federal subsidies to oil companies for continued exploration at the same time that these companies are reporting record profits. Stem cell research? A no-brainer here. Bush opposed any expansion to stem cell research with the puffy self-righteousness that he, apparently tuned in to God’s frequency, knows exactly when human life begins. Bush’s religious zealotry likewise removes the need for any thought about abortion and intelligent design (his recent comments on the latter showing that, despite degrees from Yale and Harvard, Bush does not know how science functions).
Bush has spent about 20 percent of his presidency on vacation. But, the question is: vacation from what? Certainly not deep analytical thought that might bring new and courageous solutions to important and persistent problems. And therein lies the real tragedy of Bush’s presidency. In a position of tremendous power with the potential to do so much good at home and around the world, Bush spends most of his limited “on time” as a salesman of a private war, the GOP and Christianity and very little time as a statesman addressing issues in an intelligent and thoughtful way.
”’Todd Shelly is a resident of East Honolulu, Hawaii, and can be reached via email at”’ mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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