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A Report Card for Our First Pupil



Homeland Defense: A+ The Kyoto Accords: F
The issue of the day seems now to be homeland defense. And for good reason. It's really to early to say where all of this is headed, but it's hard to see how the President could do a much better job reacting to the attack on our country. Of course we could all have done a better job of forseeing this, but it seems it was beyond our imagination. I hope Mr. Bush keeps up his present level of focus, a continues to bear in mind the distinction between justice and revenge, meanwhile doing everything necessary to ensure our safety at home. If anything, our strikes in Afgainistan seem mild in comparison with the attacks on us; after all, we have so far (Oct. 8) attacked only military targets. Rejected by Bush, but accepted by every other country of any relevance whatsoever, including all of our European allies and Asian allies like Japan. Another example of Bush's "go it alone" policy. Not even we can go it alone. Nor can we do without our environment.
Military sanctions only on Iraq: B+ Broken promises: F
This must be a sensitive issue for the president, but he seems willing to make the sanctions against Iraq military only. The sanctions are a spectacular failure, allowing Saddam to build a new massive palace every year, while children starve live on CNN. He has also held off on new strikes against Saddam until solid evidence of terrorist conspiracy comes to light. In order to beat Gore, Bush promised to cut carbon dioxide emissions. These are the gasses that lead to global warming. Perhaps you remember hearing something about New York under water. Bush's chief of the EPA went around to all the leaders in the EU promising lower emissions as per the President's promises. She was then blindsided as Bush caved to oil interests: first he claimed that the economic environment had changed (presumably owing to the stock market slowdown), then changed stories, and claimed that the promise had been put into the speech by accident. Huh?

Letter of the two sorries: C- Bankruptcy crackdown: F
He got us out of the Chinese hostage crisis without a real apology for non-existent crimes. Thanks. Throw them a bone and get the kids home. But the crisis was mishandled for a good couple of days, while Bush just insisted in a baffled way on having the people and plane back. He should have realized this was a potential crisis. He has a hotline directly to the Chinese President. Why didn't he use it? (He didn't.) There are no sinologists on Bush's team. He ought to know the competition. Ignore China at your peril. In response to intense lobbying from big credit card companies, the President has made it harder for families in trouble to declare bankruptcy. It is now easier for a credit card company to take away your house. Coming right after the Internet boom has crested, the measure will mean hell for families who thought (like everybody) that the good times would continue. Great timing. The President represents the "pro-family" party. What does this mean in concrete terms? That families should be out on the street? Ironically, credit card companies posted record profits in 2000. They just don't need the extra measures. And they are not required to do credit checks on anybody, and now offer credit to anyone with a pulse. As always and forever, the President has sided with large multinationals against people. Ease the squeeze on bloated firms, yoke the bloke with a family to support, right?
Colin Powell: A Drilling for oil in our national parks: F
Choosing Colin Powell as his Secretary of state was probably the smartest move Bush has ever made. Here is the man who should have been President: reasonable, wise, experienced and respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. He is now and invaluable part of Mr. Bush's team in responding to the air terror attacks. As a another nice gesture to his buddies in the oil business, the President is aggressively expanding oil drilling in out unspoiled wildernesses. The claim is that this will help solve California's rolling blackouts. This is a patent falsehood. The energy woes of California and other states is badly managed deregulation. Prices charged to energy providers for coal and oil were deregulated, while prices charged to the consumer by energy providers were not. The solution is to either re-regulate the former, or deregulate the latter. But it provides cover for Bush to do something he has always wanted to do: help his buddies in huge corporations.
  The defense shield: F
  Sounds cool: missiles from the ground shoot down incoming ICBMs like in a video game. The huge price tag, though, makes a mockery of the President's tax cut. Spending on things like inner city kids is less important than what may be a sci-fi fantasy. The missile system has never worked, after all. It has driven a wedge between us and our allies, and between us and sensitive areas like China. Can we go it alone? Perhaps this money could be diverted to counter-terrorism, the real threat.
  Exacerbating the China problem: F
  Sure, the China problem is older than Mr. Bush, but he has mishandled it from the start. There are no sinologists on the Bush team, leading to mishandling of problems with China. He called all the leaders of major nations o introduce himself, except China. They were already offended. Mr. Bush had hoped that China would just go away, but that isn't going to happen. He strengthened the hand of Chinese hard-liners by saying China was a "strategic competitor," whatever that means. Clinton always said they were a strategic partner, strengthening the hand of the quite pro-US president of China, Jiang Zemin. Now the Anti-American PLA, or Army, is in relative control, leading to anti-US actions.
Teacher's comments: You seem to have been elected at a critical time, Mr. Bush. Make your decisions with care. They will effect us for years to come. Who knows what the future will hold? Keep focused. Keep the big picture in mind. There's a lot more at stake here than the next few years.

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