Some Doubts About Bush

    Pundits on the Right: Some Doubts About Bush
    By Dave Astor

    Published: February 11, 2004
    NEW YORK There are three things one can usually depend on: death, taxes, and conservative columnists strongly supporting President Bush. Well, maybe two things.

    During the past couple of weeks, some scribes on the right have expressed misgivings about Bush because of his Feb. 8 "Meet the Press" performance, his minimal military experience when compared with John Kerry's, the burgeoning budget deficit, and the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction the president claimed were in Iraq.

    E&P read 27 columns by conservatives who mentioned Bush during the past 13 days. Nine of the columns had at least some questions about the president and his policies.

    For instance, George Will of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote that Bush's "accumulating errors are undermining the premise of his reelection campaign, which is: Wartime demands hard choices and sacrifices, and a president who is steady, measured, and believable. ... Once begun, leakage of public confidence is difficult to stanch."

    Another conservative WPWG columnist, Charles Krauthammer, said voters may choose John Kerry over Bush because of the Democrat's stronger military experience. "Sept. 11 reminded us that the '90s were an anomaly," Krauthammer wrote. "And upon returning to a world of mortal conflict with people who really want you destroyed, you instinctively want someone not new to the idea of war."

    Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times (Click for QuikCap <javascriptpenPopUpWindow('/eandp/yearbook/epdpopup.jsp?Id=85154','Yearbook','width=530,heigh t=450')>) and Creators Syndicate added: "Most worrisome to Republicans is Kerry's war-hero image while, in the words of one prominent Bush supporter, 'our guy was drinking beer in Alabama.'"

    Wall Street Journal contributing columnist Peggy Noonan wrote of Bush's "Meet the Press" appearance: "The president seemed tired, unsure, and often bumbling. His answers were repetitive... . He did not seem prepared."

    Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle and Creators wrote that the Bush administration's "first-term spending spree isn't sitting well with those who have to bankroll it. ... Simply put, Bush broke the covenant Republican officeholders are supposed to share with voters: that they'll be tight with other people's money."

    William Murchison of Creators asked: "Why no Bush vetoes of inappropriate appropriations?"

    Pat Buchanan of Creators wrote that the Bush administration "invaded an oil-rich country on what the world believes were false pretenses and forged evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."

    Another Creators columnist, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly, was quoted by Reuters as saying he's "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now" since weapons inspector David Kay expressed doubt about Iraq having WMDs.

    Some of the above conservatives had occasionally criticized Bush prior to the past two weeks. But the amount of negative commentary seems to have increased, as noted in a Tuesday New York Times article.

    Still, criticism from conservatives is sporadic and relatively muted -- with the majority of columnists on the right remaining solidly behind Bush.

    For instance, Cal Thomas of Tribune Media Services wrote about the president's Iraq policy: "Bush acted on the best intelligence available at the time, stopping a madman who has been responsible for the deaths of perhaps millions... . Was that not worth doing?" And David Limbaugh of Creators wrote: "I still think Bush is an odds-on favorite for reelection."

    Dave Astor ( <>) is senior editor for E&P.
  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    O'Reilly assured us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. On March 18, 2003, O'Reilly was on ABC's "Good Morning America." He made the following promise about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction:
    "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right?"
    On February 10, 2004 - 329 days after he made the promise - Bill O'Reilly returned to "Good Morning America" and apologized for supporting the claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He continued:
    "I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this. What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?"
    And then he said that he was "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now."
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Bush Aides Accused of Destroying Military Documents

    Just four days after pledging to open up his entire military file1, President Bush has reneged on the pledge, with "Administration officials declining yesterday to commit to releasing further records"2 on top of the inconclusive ones they have already released. Additionally, new charges have surfaced that Bush actually deployed his Texas gubernatorial staff to destroy incriminating records.

    As first reported by the Dallas Morning News, retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said that, in 1997, Joe Allbaugh (chief of staff for then-Governor Bush) told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not anything there that will embarrass the governor." Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he "saw Mr. Bush's file and documents from it discarded in a trash can."3

    While the White House has claimed the attack is baseless, Burkett's credibility was bolstered today after the New York Times reported that he made his complaint known right after the incident. In 1998, he sent a letter to a member of the Texas State Senate saying Bush and his aides improperly reviewed the file to "make sure nothing will embarrass the governor during his re-election campaign." Burkett repeated in interviews this week that Bush and his aides "ordered Guard officials to remove damaging information from Mr. Bush's military personnel files."4

    Yesterday, the commander of the Alabama unit Bush claimed he served in during his year-long absence said "[Bush] never did come to my squad. He was never at my unit."5 Additionally, in a signed report, commanding officers in Houston said Bush "has not been observed."6 In order to clear up the controversy, the president would have to follow through on his Sunday pledge to release all of his records rather than continue stonewalling.

    Meet the Press <>, 02/08/2004.
    "1973 Document Puts Bush on Guard Base <>", Washington Post, 02/12/2004.
    "Aides say records prove Bush served <>", Dall Morning News, 02/10/2004.
    "Move to Screen Bush File in 90's Is Reported <>", New York Times, 02/12/2004.
    "Bush met military obligation, aide says <>", The Birmingham News, 02/11/2004.
    "Guard Records On President Are Released <>", Washington Post, 02/11/2004.