"One needn't deny Bush's appropriate firmness in attacking Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan soon after 9/11 to assert that he almost immediately lost his way in the struggle against terrorism. He squandered international support and diverted the Pentagon's energies to a misplaced war against Iraq. He did so on poor advice from ideologues and frothy intelligence that utterly misjudged Saddam Hussein's capabilities. Iraq had no ties to 9/11. It had no weapons of mass destruction. In short, Saddam posed no terroristic threat to the United States.
Meanwhile, Al-Qaida remained, and remains today, a menace whose leader is still at large. Americans receive vague 'orange alerts' attesting to its continued threat to homeland security. Ports, energy supplies and transportation systems remain vulnerable for lack of federal attention. And Iraq? Long after Bush declared 'mission accomplished,' US forces face land mines and truck bombs, religious extremeists and political assassins. It's far from clear that Iraq will soon become the Mideast beacon of democracy that he envisions....
At home, Bush kept his promise to cut taxes. In doing so. he got little in the way of economic stimulus but went a very long way toward building unprecedented and unsustainable debt loads. Making those tax cuts permanent, as he proposed, would make impossible any substantial effort to bolster the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, which already face known shortages as baby boomers retire. That's before taking into account his plan to divert part of the payroll tax from Social Security to set up individual accounts. It's before spending money the gov't doesn't have on the long list of new programs he proposed....
In short, Geoerge W. Bush argued that he is the leader to depend on for security---national and economic. But it was an argument of assertion, unsupported by indicators of either physical safety or budget numbers that add up.
He did not, and cannot, stand on his case of attacking Iraq, nor can he point to a satisfactory outcome--in Iraq or his war on terror. National security requires that the struggle against terrorism focus on Al-Qaida and its shadowy linkages around the world---and that it be international in effort and scope.
As for economic security, Bush's plans are wildly contradictory; his tax cuts have placed the United States in long-term economic jeopardy---even as he proposed to 'reform' Social Security and Medicare.
If Bush is to craft a campaign that will appeal to more than his GOP delegates, the president will have to deal with the reality of his trumped-up Iraq war abroad and his insupportable tax cuts at home."
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