View From Lodi, CA: Character In Crawford, TX


On

September 11, 2001
I was asleep in a Sierra Vista,
AZ motel when the phone rang at 7:30 A.M. That call was
the first I heard about the

attacks
on the

World Trade Center towers.

Normally, by 7:30 I have been

up for a couple of hours.
But the evening before two
friends and I had been touring the border at

Naco
that separates Mexico and the U.S.

During our hours of driving in pitch darkness, we saw
no signs of

border security
save for an occasional patch of
barbwire that a rancher put up to keep his livestock
from straying.

Today, four full years after the terrorist attacks, I
am certain that if I were to return to that same stretch
along the San Pedro River, I would find the

borders just as open and accessible as they were on 9/11
.

George W. Bush protests that America is a safer
country now than it was before we launched the
disastrous war in Iraq.

I`m here to tell you that Bush is wrong.

Despite Bush`s thousands of references to 9/11 and a
secure America, he has done little to protect the
country.

Look no further than Bush`s refusal to tighten up

America`s northern and southern border
.

To fully understand the magnitude of that failure,
consider the words of

Mark Krikorian,
Executive Director of the

Center for Immigration Studies
, who wrote in the

National Review Online
:

“No system that allows a

Mexican busboy
to sneak in can stop an

al Qaeda terrorist.”

What we have sadly learned since 9/11 and what has
been reinforced over and again is that President Bush is
not a man of character. Bush simply does not have the
spine to make the unpopular (with his well-heeled
supporters) decisions like protecting the borders.

Unfortunately for America, when the going gets tough,
Bush gets going…in the opposite direction.

The Gulf States travesty is the latest example of how
shallow Bush is. As the tragedy unfolded in the New
Orleans—a mere 450 miles east of Crawford— Bush
took off for

Rancho Cucamonga,
CA, 1,200 miles to his west.

Bush is having trouble hiding now. His boilerplate
speeches about how the prayers of Americans are with the

abandoned New Orleans dead
and the killed

U.S. soldiers in Iraq
might be sincere.

But coming from Bush`s mouth, they ring hollow. Words
are easy but don`t do a thing to absolve Bush of his

continuing poor judgment.

Since 9/11, the Bush presidency has revolved around
self-serving deceptions and outright lies. They are too
numerous to chronicle in a single 800-word column. And
why should I bother to spell them out as they are well
known to even the most hardened Bush supporters?

No matter how many times Bush visits the Gulf States
from this moment forward or how many of his White House
staff he sends, nothing will change his initial
response…to run away. [“White
House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage
,”

Adam Nagourney and Anne E. Kornblut, New York Times,
September 4, 2005]

And Bush hightailing it toward California at the peak
of the

New Orleans crisis
is the fourth example in the last
year of how superficial he is.

Consider the Bush resume:

  • In August 2004, former U.S.
    Senator and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland attempted to
    deliver a

    letter
    to Bush at his Crawford ranch asking the
    president to denounce television ads condemning the
    war record of Sen. John Kerry. Bush refused to
    accept the letter, signed by nine other U.S.
    Senators who served in Vietnam. And he

    refused to meet
    with Cleland who lost both legs
    and an arm in Vietnam. An honorable man would have
    invited Cleland into his house and said,
    “Whatever you have to say to me, I want to hear.”

  • During the 2005 summer, Bush
    steadfastly

    refused to meet
    with Cindy Sheehan whose son was
    killed in Iraq. Bush, had he a sense of humanity,
    would have said, "Come in, let me try to
    comfort you about the

    loss of your son
    ."

And if Bush has to meet with
all the mothers of the
1,887 dead U.S. soldiers
, so be it. Despite the objection that
the president is too busy, let him make the time by
cutting his daily jog short.

Nearly a year after the November 2004 election, I am
still trying to understand how Bush pulled it off. All
the signs of Bush incompetence were on display for his
entire first term.

What Bush, despite his character deficit, had going
for him was his perfect game plan for re-election. As
Bush said:


“You can fool some of the people all of the time and
those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”

But time has run out for Bush. As much as he would
love to push for a

guest worker program
—opposed by 85% of
Americans—- and press for his other personal visions
like social security reform, circumstances now prevent
it.


(“Storm Upheaves Bush`s Second Term Agenda,”
Susan
Page, USA Today, September 6, 2005)

In the meantime, the

weight of Bush`s errors
will plague every Republican
incumbent in 2006.

I predict that they will beg Bush to stay away from
their districts and states as the elections draw closer.

By November 2006, Bush will be correctly viewed by
incumbent Republicans as poison.

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
.