"In 1937, the playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote of President George Washington: There are some men who lift the age they inhabit, til all men walk on higher ground in their lifetime.
"Mr. President, you are such a man."
Erm, not exactly. First off:
Washington felt that public appearances were important for the president -- and his appearances were indeed open to the public. . . . Washington was intent on establishing the precedent that the president was chosen to represent the whole country, not just his partisan supporters. . . .
Bush, on the other hand:
...traveled to the historic Berkeley Plantation in southeastern Virginia yesterday for an event carefully calibrated to emphasize his compassionate side. In his remarks, he encouraged "all Americans to show their thanks by giving back."
But, as usual, he wasn't talking to all Americans. At least not in person. Admission to the event was tightly controlled by White House and Republican party officials.
George Washington believed that America's credo required that prisoners taken in time of war be treated with dignity and respect. He forbade torture and other acts of abuse. He required that the religious convictions of the prisoners be respected. "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands," he wrote in a famous order on January 8, 1777.
Do I even need to mention Abu Ghraib?
And just how does our esteemed President feel about the give and take and intricate negotiations that democracy involves?
US News reports that Bush advisers say "that President Bush's spirits are getting a lift because of his new focus on unilateral actions to circumvent Congress. He is described by these advisers as delighted that he can move beyond butting heads with Democratic leaders and can get things done through executive orders and administrative actions.
"'He is always 'up' but he's been in a very good mood lately," says a senior White House official. "He likes the feel of things right now." At a meeting last week to discuss his use of unilateral actions to get around Congress,"This is the kind of thing we should be doing" -- a particular reference to his moves to reduce aviation congestion over Thanksgiving. He feels it's important to address such "kitchen table" issues that affect Americans in their daily lives, rather than get bogged down with endless battles with Congress, an aide said. [emphases mine]
And I have to agree that Bush's speech on the general theme of giving thanks got pretty darned offensive:
"Today, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are taking risks for our freedom. They're fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm. ... we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain."
About two thirds of Americans do not agree with this statement. The Iraq War has nothing to do with freedom and the occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with the problem of terrorism, a tactic used by the weak against the strong. The Iraqis that the US armed forces are battling are natives of the country, defending their homeland against foreign invaders who apparently want to steal their oil. As for sacrifices not being "in vain," does that mean Bush is vowing to stay until a probably-unattainable "victory" is achieved?
And finally, a comment on his close adviser Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
"The rock star diplomat has become the workaday American secretary of state..."
Whuuh?!?!? Excuse me, but since when did Rice ever deserve to be accorded "rock star" status? Isn't "rock star" status something one reserves for successful government servants who, you know, like, actually accomplish things?!?!