Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Well, so much for Paul Krugman leaving Bush alone. With an assist from Blogdom's own Josh Marshall, Krugman looks at what is colloquially called "being Bushed"... a term usually used to describe the phenomenon of the President having a nice photo op with the representatives of some group of some sort, and then that group's furious discovery that away from the cameras the administration has screwed them.

The weird thing is that some of these decisions are politically insane. Take a look at this, for example:

Take George W. Bush's decision last week to demonstrate his resolve by blocking $5.1 billion in homeland security spending. This turned out to be a major gaffe, because the rejected bill allocated money both to improve veterans' health care and to provide firefighters with new equipment, including communication systems that could have saved lives on Sept. 11. Recalling those scenes at ground zero that did so much to raise Mr. Bush's poll numbers, the president of the International Association of Firefighters warned, "Don't lionize our fallen brothers in one breath, then stab us in the back."
or this:

After [the trapped coal miners'] rescue, Mr. Bush made a point of congratulating them in person — and Michael Novak, writing in National Review Online, declared Somerset, Pa., the "conservative capital of the world."

But Mr. Novak didn't mention the crucial assistance provided by the federal government's Mine Safety and Health Administration. That would have raised some awkward questions: although the Bush administration's energy plans call for major increases in coal mining, its spending plans cut funds for mine safety. More conservative budget guidance.
Krugman makes some good points about Bush's fake "populism", and the pseudo-populism that has been employed by the right for decades. What's strange, though, is that Paul needs to make it at all- this sort of deception and doubletalk should be front-and-center for most Bush critics, especially on motherhood issues like firefighters. Admittedly being a Bush critic is a target-rich environment, but why should Paul Krugman the economics prof even need to point something like this out, and why should he need to cite a blogger (even one as well-known and respected as Josh Marshall) for a story on the administration's screwing of veterans, when it's such an obvious "gimme" to his critics and to the press in general? Especially considering, as Paul noted, the vigor and ruthlessness with which the press corps attacked Al Gore for what was really a totally innocuous Op-Ed column?

Paul has become one of the premier Bush critics on the national stage, and that's all well and good- but he should be one of many, and it's disturbing to see the extent to which he stands alone. If there is a "liberal bias" in the media, its the single greatest demonstration of incompetence that I've yet seen.

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