Bush isn't qualified for presidency

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That great iconoclast H.L. Mencken used to argue that despite their seeming zeal for democracy, Americans were a gullible, timorous lot who would gladly swear fealty to a king. Should they permit the manifestly unqualified George W. Bush to inherit the presidency on Nov. 7, voters will have gone a long way toward proving Mencken right. For Americans to elect Bush would be like the British making Prince Charles their prime minister, except that the heir to the British throne isn't quite the dimwit satirists make him out to be.

The Texas dauphin's intellectual shortcomings, alas, are all too real. We came to this opinion somewhat reluctantly. But just because the Washington press clique bills the race as The Dope vs. The Dissembler doesn't make Bush qualified to be president.

Even the proverbial blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. Virtually all of Al Gore's "exaggerations" are media inventions, but they've actually underplayed Dubya's ignorance. The GOP candidate's stunning incoherence during the presidential debates convinced us.

Unfortunately, calling Republicans stupid has never worked as a campaign strategy. Democrats who thought Eisenhower dumb were kidding themselves. Even in grade school, we wondered how such a simpleton managed to command the armies that defeated Hitler. Mocking Reagan as an ignoramus never worked either. True, large parts of the visible world were invisible to The Gipper, but the man did have a few strong convictions, a veteran actor's stage presence and the willpower to clamber his way to the top.

Bush, on the other hand, was born there. He's achieved little or nothing on his own, coasting on Daddy's money and Daddy's connections all his life.

Family pull got him into Yale and smoothed his path away from Vietnam and into the Texas Air National Guard. Although he never took a scheduled flight physical in 1973 and no record can be found that he ever reported for duty in Alabama that year, Bush somehow emerged with an honorable discharge.

His business career consists of one false start after another. Buoyed by the family name and other people's money, Dubya went bust in three separate ventures, escaping each time with a healthy profit, although other investors were not so lucky.

Not until fellow investors who owned the other 98.2 percent of the Texas Rangers gave him the ceremonial role of "owner" did Bush participate in a successful business venture, and then only by using his considerable charm to persuade Arlington, Texas, voters to tax themselves to build the team a palatial new ballpark that greatly increased the team's value. Grateful fellow investors presented Bush with shares worth $15 million, which he promptly cashed in to begin his political career.

As Texas governor during the Clinton economic boom, his amiable personality made him a popular figure in a state whose citizens congratulate themselves on their rugged individualism, although the ultimate source of their wealth is the same as Saudi Arabia's. The campaign funds that bought him the GOP nomination were put up mainly by Daddy's oil-rich friends. Indeed, the great irony of the 2000 presidential race is that Americans have grown so fat and happy due to the successful economic policies of Bill Clinton, a brainy striver up from darkest Arkansas, that many appear to believe that almost anybody capable of knotting his own necktie can handle the presidency. If Bush gets the job, it's fascinating to wonder who'd actually do it.

The most puzzling thing about the Gore campaign to date is how badly the vice president has done at the simple storytelling aspect of running for president. Without Clinton's 1993 budget and Gore's tie-breaking vote to pass it over unanimous GOP opposition, there'd be no argument over how to spend the budget surplus, because there wouldn't be any budget surplus, only oceans of red ink.

It makes us crazy that the Gore campaign isn't running TV ads showing one Republican savant after another predicting fiscal doom and pointing out that Bush's tax cuts are based upon precisely the same failed economic theories. The same geniuses who brought us savings and loan reform under Ronald Reagan now promise to accomplish miracles for Social Security. So why not say so?

See, it's not so much that Bush lacks the intellectual equipment to do the job. It's the combination of his formidable ignorance and the blinding prejudices of his class.

"The problem is probably laziness or complacence rather than actual inability," Slate's Michael Kinsley observes, "and journalists' reluctance to call someone who may well be our next commander-in-chief a moron is understandable. But if George W. Bush isn't a moron, he is a man of impressive intellectual dishonesty and/or confusion. His utterances frequently make no sense on their own terms. His policy recommendations are often internally inconsistent and mutually contradictory."

It hasn't helped that the media have lowered the bar for Bush to a height an agile basset hound could clear. It wasn't seen as a gaffe that for months he appeared not to grasp that the $1 trillion he'd divert to "privatize" Social Security was already committed to pay seniors' benefits. Nor was it a lie when he mocked Gore's "fuzzy math" in the first presidential debate, then casually admitted his opponent's numbers were correct during the third. Nor when he falsely said Gore's campaign outspent his when the GOP's outspent the Democrats almost 2-to-1. Even when Bush took credit for a patient's bill of rights he'd first vetoed, then allowed to become law without his signature, only Clinton called his hand.

"One thing about insurance," Bush said. "That's a Washington term." Nobody laughed. Poor little princeling, he'd just gotten confused.

Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award. His column appears on Wednesdays.

This article was published on Wednesday, November 1, 2000

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), November 02, 2000


If Bush is such an incoherent moron, why did he do better than Gore at the debates? Is Gore an even bigger moron? Was Gore exaggerating about Bush's "bumbleness"?

-- Questions that need answering (is@gore.smart?), November 02, 2000.

Article said "Without Clinton's 1993 budget and Gore's tie-breaking vote to pass it over unanimous GOP opposition, there'd be no argument over how to spend the budget surplus, because there wouldn't be any budget surplus..."

I hope those of you out there who are intelligent realize the reason we have this surplus is because we are now being OVER taxed, and the republicans were trying to STOP them from doing it. The surplus should have been in your pocket, not extra spending cash for Washington.

-- Bushette (not@again.today), November 02, 2000.

Cherri, gee, why don'tcha just tell us where you stand?

Let's see....

Gore flunked out of divinity school and law school...so he has a what a BA?

By comparison, Bush has an MBA from Harvard in Business....hmmmm?

vote goes to Bush for being better educated.


Gore spends his life pursuing his pappy's dreams of the presidency, cuz pappy couldn't make it.

Bush pursues his own life and makes his own dreams come true....

Vote goes to Bush...for being his own man..


Gore has never run anything in his life, having spent it entirely within the cloistered halls of congress...

Bush ran a business...and one of our largest states...

Vote goes to Bush for real experience in the real world.,...


What will they do in office?

Acting VP Gore has prevaricated, procrastinated and end run the constitution...He lied to Congress recently about dealings with China and won't produce the documents..lost e-mail accounts that would probably have verified his crimes...developed amnesia over illegal buddhist temple fundraisers....exaggerated every area of his life over a 20+ year period for no apparant reason.

Gov. Bush has managed to run one of the largest states in the country.

Gov. Clinton did too and his record was less perfect than Bush's as was his state which ranks 49th in education.....oh yeah, BUT CHERRI THOUGHT HE WAS QUALIFIED!!!!


No brainer...vote Bush.

-- put out (intuitivelyobvious@talkingtomorons.com), November 02, 2000.

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