View From Lodi, CA: Bush Can Still Lose In`04.

Help me out, will you? I
keep reading that George W. Bush is an
enormously popular president and a virtual
shoo-in for re-election. The thing is that I
never actually hear anyone say that he thinks
Bush is doing a great job.

We know that Bush wants to wage war
against Iraq. But what else can you tell me about his
presidency? Since Bush`s popularity depends on his
effectiveness in the fight against terrorism, he gets
only so-so grades on that. How generous can you be when
Osama bin Laden remains on the loose and active with
terrorist acts in



The Bush presidency shows signs of
chaos and 2004 is up for grabs assuming—and it is a huge
assumption—the Democrats can get their own act together.

Here are a few assorted slaps in
your face from Bush`s first two years that you may have
missed during the barrage of Iraq publicity.

On November 5, Securities and
Exchange Commissioner Harvey Pitt, the best friend the
accounting industry ever had, resigned in disgrace. The
Bush administration, to minimize the controversy about
their handpicked choice, orchestrated Pitt`s resignation
for Election Eve when the public would be distracted.
Six weeks of skepticism and fiscal uncertainty passed
before Bush named former investment banker William H.
Donaldson to replace Pitt. Donaldson is a long time
friend of the Bush family.

When the Bush administration
refused to relinquish documents naming the participants
in secret meetings held by Vice President Dick Cheney`s
energy task force, General Accounting Office Comptroller
General David Walker sued. But this week federal
district court Judge John D. Bates, a Bush appointee,
threw the suit out. The matter will proceed to an
appellate court where California Representative Henry
Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government
Reform Committee, expects it to be overturned. Judge
Bates` decision comes too late to entirely save Cheney
and his cronies from embarrassment. Over the months
since the suit was filed, word has leaked out that
Enron, a corporation that gave generously to all of
Bush`s campaigns, was well represented at the meetings.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew
H. Card, Jr. authorized cash bonuses in amounts up to
$25,000 for certain political appointees. The cash
payouts will go to employees who typically earn between
$125,000 to $140,000 annually. In 1994, the practice of
distributing bonuses was ended after negative publicity
surrounding payouts during the waning days of the George
H. Bush administration.

After waiting 14 months to order a
“comprehensive” study into the events leading up to the
9/11 attacks, President Bush appointed 79-year-old
former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to lead the
investigation. The Kissinger appointment is curious.
Once Richard Nixon`s right hand man, Kissinger approved
the secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War
and supported the overthrow in 1973 of Chile`s
democratically elected Salvador Allende by the murderous
Gen. Augusto Pinochet. [Peter
Brimelow writes
: Harrumph! Like I say, VDARE.COM
is a coalition

Immediately after his appointment,
Kissinger alienated friends and foes alike by taking a
page from the Dick Cheney handbook of evasion
management. He steadfastly refused to severe any ties
with Kissinger Associates. Kissinger called possibility
of conflict of interest “outrageous.”

Although Kissinger Associates
doesn`t reveal its client list, it includes Arco and
Exxon Mobil.

President Bush appeared at the
Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. on Eid-al Fitr, the
culmination of Ramadan. Repeating the same message he
has issued

dozens of times
since 9/11, Bush

that the Muslim holiday "is a reminder
that Islam brings hope and comfort to more than a
billion people worldwide"
and that the religion
"affirms God`s

and insists on man`s moral responsibility."

Later, the White House released a statement wherein Bush
cited “acts of kindness and generosity” by
Muslims during Ramadan to people in need as inspiration
for creating “a culture of

among people of all faiths in the U.S.

Since Bush took office, 2 million
people have lost their jobs, trillions have been lost in
the investment markets and the unemployment rate hit an
8-year high of 6%. The working class is reeling from
soaring energy bills and sky rocketing medical insurance
premiums. Stonewalling reasonable requests for public
records and quietly re-instating cash bonuses to
government officials who earn six-figure salaries is
questionable public relations.

A controversial figure like
Kissinger is best left out of the limelight. Dusting him
off for a face-saving mission shows poor judgment.

Finally, I
remind President Bush that in

the U.S. celebrates an important religious
period of our own, Advent. For four weeks beginning with

feast of St. Andrew the Apostle
, Advent marks the
beginning of the ecclesiastical year. During this
period, Christians prepare to

Christ`s birth.

Democrats have fodder. The problem is whether the party
can find someone palatable enough to oppose Bush.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the

Lodi News-Sentinel