Not a single American – liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican – should have believed that George W. Bush or Al Gore would have really practiced what he preached if elected to the White House. However, given that Bush’s blatant lack of intelligence was ignored in light of promises of “radical changes in the Republican Party” and “compassionate conservatism,” one would have expected him to maintain the facade of an agenda different from his father’s – at least until inauguration.
I may hold personal grudges about the promises made in this election due to my firsthand experience at the Republican headquarters’ party on election night. In addition to a few too many date offers, my evening was filled with sermons from drunk, sweaty men about how different Dubya is compared to previous Republican presidents (does illiteracy count as different?). So I na*vely thought that he would try to shroud his stark conservative tendencies for as long as possible. But the minute he began to choose his cabinet, it began.
He began with Gen. Colin Powell for secretary of state; a smart first choice his advisors must have assured him would win thumbs ups from both parties. And it’s true – no one can really find any fault with Mr. Powell, except perhaps a few of Bush’s other cabinet choices who are probably steaming over the General’s support of Affirmative Action. It was entertaining watching Bush hand off every single question to Gen. Powell at that first press conference, though.
Then there was the Linda Chavez scandal. The irony is magnificent. Labor secretary, huh – doesn’t that title imply a responsibility to regulate labor? You would think the liberals would have been a little less harsh, since Clinton nominated a few “bad seeds” that hired illegal aliens (the horror!). It is ironic that the one sign of humanity the woman has shown (she opposes abortion and a hike in minimum wage) was that which pushed her out of the running. Bush’s new choice, Linda Chao, was an officer in his daddy’s administration. Ironically, her husband, a conservative senator from Kentucky, has headed opposition movements to campaign finance reform – an area she’ll deal with as labor secretary. There are no double agendas in Washington.
John Ashcroft, Bush’s choice for attorney general, is so far right, “conservative” doesn’t begin to sum it up. “[America] has no king but Jesus … If America is to be great in the future, it will be if we understand that our source is not civic and temporal, but our source is Godly and eternal, endowed by the Creator with rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he has been quoted as saying. Yah, there’s a little document called the Constitution. Those who are citizens, and perhaps government officials, should check it out. I think it outlines a separation between church and state. If that wasn’t a clear enough image of this man and what he’ll do in the White House, know that the NAACP and advocates of gun control, abortion rights, homosexual rights and the environment oppose Ashcroft. Does anyone other than Bush like him?
My personal favorite, however, was the choice of Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson as head of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Thompson received approximately $172,000 in campaign contributions between 1993 and 2000 from executives and political action committees of major tobacco companies, the largest sums coming from Phillip Morris. According to The Associated Press, he has also traveled to “three continents at the expense of major tobacco companies, including a trip to Australia that involved a scuba diving excursion with a tobacco lobbyist.” Can we say conflict of interest? I don’t care how many programs the man has started in Wisconsin – someone whose political career is funded by “Big Tobacco” should not be the head of a department with “health” in the title. Not to mention that the man strongly opposes abortion and, if appointed, will have a large amount of control over the regulation of public money for abortions and legislation dealing with abortion issues. So much for the work President Clinton has done.
Bush’s choice for secretary of the interior, Gale Norton, also has a fun record. Norton, the former attorney general of Colorado, has made a plethora of offensive comments, including the suggestion that the government recognize property owner’s “right to pollute,” and that the Confederacy’s loss in the Civil War diminished states’ rights. Groups that have announced their opposition to Norton’s appointment include the Republicans for Environmental Protection, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the Wilderness Society. Bush says attacks on Norton have been “just a ridiculous interpretation of what’s in her heart.” I know I’m reassured.
And then there is Secretary of Defense-nominee Donald H. Rumsfeld, who occupied the position under President Ford from 1975 to 1977. Key points in Rumsfeld’s agenda include the increase of military spending due to threats such as cyber-attacks and ballistic missiles from emerging nuclear powers, as well as opposition to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It’s a cliche argument, but come on, we have children in school without books – do we need to pour more money into the military? I don’t trust a man who dismissed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 as “ancient history.”
Bush has already made statements suggesting that he will use his executive power within the first month of office to revoke U.S. aid for international organizations that provide abortions in foreign countries, something originally introduced by his father and reversed by Clinton. A “new” Republican Party? I see nothing compassionate in that action, but we apparently have radically different definitions of the word. Let’s take a look at the argument: We cut funds for abortions in Third World countries so more children can be born into poverty. How humane.
Bush’s mere candidacy for president was a blatant insult to the American people, but as long as we have accepted the outcome of this election, I suppose we deserve to have him and all of his evil Cabinet members running the country. Hang on tight, because the next four years are going to be a rough ride.
Marisa Lagos is a Daily Nexus assistant county editor.