In Bush’s News Conference today, he said something startling and quite lacking in credibility given his past history:
Every civilized country also has a stake in the outcome of this war. Whatever our past disagreements, we share a common enemy, and we have common duties to protect our peoples, to confront disease and hunger and poverty in troubled regions of the world.
It’s clear from this sentence, the entire press conference, and his past statements that what he’s really concerned about is crushing terrorism and enemies of the U.S. (whether terrorist or not) as he perceives them. But what interested me is the closing portion which emphasizes our duty to confront disease, hunger and poverty in the world. If he’s ever said that before in that way, I don’t remember hearing it. I know he’s proposed an AIDS project in Africa, but this seems a fairly sweeping and comprehensive statement.
Of course, I don’t believe it. But who knows, perhaps leopards do change their spots (to reverse the Biblical saying)? The proof will be in the pudding. I once knew a university president who was a fairly unlikable person, but who did say one smart thing. He’d served at the National Institute of Medicine and was a proficient bureaucratic infighter I presume. He said: "Don’t listen to what a politician says, watch his budget. Where a politician spends money tells you his or her real priorities." Indeed, this holds true with the above statement. If Bush DOES SOMETHING to implement the high-flown rhetoric above, then he’ll have truly changed his spots.
But why should we hope or believe this is possible? He’s betrayed his supposed compassionate Conservative values in the past. It’s doubtful he’d change his tune now.
I found one of his statements supremely laughable:
"I am glad people of faith voted in this election. I don’t think you ought to read anything into the politics, the moment, about whether or not this nation will become a divided nation over religion.”
Oh, no! His campaign certainly didn’t divide people over religion or moral values, did it? And how about those Americans who are Muslim? Is their worship as protected in Bush’s eyes as that of his beloved evangelicals? Don’t you believe it.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the most intractable and divisive issue in the Mideast (aside from Iraq) and his record over the past four years has been worse than dismal. Today’s comments on this subject left me less than hopeful that anything can change in the coming four years:
The Middle East peace is a very important part of a peaceful world. I have been working on Middle — Middle Eastern peace ever since I’ve been the president. I laid down some — a very hopeful strategy in June of 2002. And my hope is that we’ll make good progress. I think it’s very important for our friends the Israelis to have a peaceful Palestinian state living on their border. It’s very important for the Palestinian people to have peaceful, hopeful future. That’s why I articulated a two-state vision in that Rose Garden speech. I meant it when I said it, and I mean it now.
More of the same platitudes, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Haaretz stated accurately, but rather charitably: "his administration has made only sporadic attempts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together."
Tony Blair also spoke recently quite urgently of the Mideast: "The need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today." Bush doesn’t seem to share this sense of urgency to the sorrow of future Israelis and Palestinians who will needlessly die due to U.S. lethargy and inaction.