A bush timline
He was "elected" in December 2000, a month after the voting ended and following
one of the most controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decisions in memory. The
decision was so controversial that the Supreme Court itself wouldn't sign it,
and forbade any future
judges from using it as a precedent. His limousine was egged at his
inauguration, and he was afraid to walk (as is traditionally done) until the
parade route entered the area of seating paid for by invited republican
supporters. Public opinion polls for the next few months showed that bush was
NOT a popular president. While his favorability ratings stayed steady in the
months prior to 9-11, from the mid 30's to the low 60's depending on the poll,
his UNfavorable rating showed a clear and steady increase from the mid 20's in
January to high 30's and even 40's through August of 2001.
In September of 2001 the most successful attack in history against us on our own soil was launched. Many of us were fearful, and some had to seek psychiatric counseling to deal with recurring nightmares, as we repeatedly viewed in horror the images (and even worse, the sounds of innocent workers jumping and falling to their deaths from the twin towers) of the smoke and dust that used to be...the tallest buildings in America and a symbol of so many of the things that we take pride in, here. A second plane hit the Pentagon, a building we all thought was immune to such an outrage, and no one really knows (except the perpetrators) where that 4th plane was going. All we know for sure is that from day one, and continuing to today, the man who claimed he "hit the trifecta" on September 11 continues to resist releasing the information about what REALLY happened that day to you and me. The stock market was closed for days due to physical damage, and when trading resumed stock values plummeted to levels not seen since 1998. This attack was clearly a turning point in this president's tenure.
A magnificent speech was written for the president to give that night. We saw the first hint at what our new policy toward other nations would be when he said, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." American flags were sold out and flew from cars everywhere. We backed our president in this time of crisis almost unanimously, and his popularity soared into the 90's. We are Americans first, and that makes almost all of us proud. Within days, he gave another speech. He expanded on his "war on terror" theme, saying that it would be a long fight, but that no matter how long it took we would "smoke them out of their holes". He asked for a law to be passed giving his Attorney General new powers to "combat terrorism". We continued to cheer this great defender of our freedom. Although the Patriot Act originally passed the House by a vote of 356-66 and the Senate by a vote of 98-1 it has recently come under fire by civil liberty groups, and even some of the Senators who voted for it without first reading it, for conferring vast and unchecked powers on the executive branch while directly contradicting our 4th amendment rights.
Of course, the economy WAS affected by the attacks. Our war in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban WAS expensive. The stock market WAS affected. We needed a plan to get our economy back on track. What we got, instead, was a continuation of the plan that was presented to us at a time when we were NOT at war, when we had projected budget surpluses, and before a recession and tax cuts had reduced our government to deficit spending at a rate that called for an increase in the debt ceiling. Following this horrible attack only 'liberals' questioned increases in military spending, further adding to the polarization of the country. Other things happened to erode consumer confidence, including the collapse of Enron and other corporations due to questionable accounting practices, unemployment's climb from under 4% in 2000 to nearly 6% in 2001. None of this was taken into account. We were told not to worry, to go out and shop like we had before, that the tax cuts of 2000 would fix everything. And then, we were told nothing at all. We got no new plan. And more jobs were lost.
Fast forward to November of 2002. The world economy is still at or near recession levels. Consumer comfidence is still plunging. Our president's poll ratings have declined to the mid-60's, not unusually high but respectable. But, we have an election that could decide the control of EVERY branch of our government for the next two years. What dominated the news? The war against Saddam Hussein. Allegations of ties to terror groups were made, weak evidence of Iraqi attempts to build WMD's was presented, and all quickly discounted by credible sources including the CIA, but Americans have a notoriously short attention span. They paid attention only to the threat, not the refutation. And 39% of all Americans turned out to vote. The "republican landside" of 2002 amounted to less than 20% of eligible voters...
The sad truth is that bush's message, and the GOP's message, is all war, all the time. Their strategy seems to be that war trumps all. So far, this strategy has succeeded. Who cares if your neighbor lost his job? We continue to live in fear today, thanks in part to regular announcements by the Ministry of Fear (AKA the Department of Homeland Security) whenever the newspapers shout "Bush KNEW!", only now we have more and better equipped "new" enemies while the Taliban and Al Qaeda are all but forgotten. I'd like to change that. I'd like to reassure Americans that even though no one can guarantee there will never be another terrorist attack the threats to their families are exaggerated for political purposes. I'd like to see Americans talking about, and asking questions about, the handling of issues other than war by our President. But I don't know how to make them hear it above the constant background of saber rattling.
So I'll continue to build on this web site.