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Colleen on Politics
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Colleen has had numerous commentaries published in The Roanoke Times newspaper and several online publications. Below is a sample commentary written by Colleen which was published in October 2004 issue of The New River Free Press.

Bush: As Good at Fighting Terrorism as He is at Finding WMDs in Iraq

The Bush Administration s campaign for re-election is being conducted in a similar manner that the run up to the Iraq war was. With sound bites, unsubstantiated claims, and by conjuring scenarios that play on people s fears, the Republican administration is as intent on selling us 4 more years of President Bush as they were in selling us the war.

Vice President Cheney s recent remarks while talking about voting in the upcoming election,  &if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we ll get hit again,  is reminiscent of his un-backed-up claim that Iraq was reconstituting nuclear weapons to be used on the U.S. He later amended his more recent statement, but, according to Republicans, only Democrats should be called flip flops.

President Bush has his own history of flip flopping, such as campaigning in 2000 as a uniter  who didn t believe in nation building,  but the most recent example may have been more a slip of the truth. He recently answered a question from NBC s Matt Lauer, regarding whether we could win the war on terror, by saying, No, I don t think you can win it.  Twenty-four hours later, he was back on message, saying what sounds good and what people want to hear, glossing over what is happening in Iraq and promising victory.

It s been widely reported that the Bush Administration was interested in invading Iraq before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that they exaggerated the threat Iraq posed. Before and during the war, President Bush made bold statements, some of which were later retracted  mission accomplished,  we found the weapons,  Iraq wouldn t let the inspectors in,  and Saddam sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,  are some examples.

The strategy of we say it, therefore it must be true,  is the foundation of the Bush administration s campaign for power and a tactic other Republicans have seized on. Recently, we saw it used by The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth when they called Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry a liar and called his service in Vietnam into question. Never mind that SBVT accusations were later debunked by official records or left unsubstantiated, the damage was already done, putting question into people s minds about Kerry s character. The SBVT borrowed another page in the Bush administration s playbook when they named their group. It s the one that was used by the Bush administration when they rolled back existing environmental laws and then presented a plan that leaned in favor of corporations at the expense of citizen protection and named it, ironically, Clear Skies.  Calling an invasion a liberation  and titling a law that erodes civil liberties The Patriot Act  are other examples of Bush double-speak.

If President Bush is the best presidential choice to fight terrorism, as he claims to be, why did he not act on the advice of his top anti-terrorist expert, Richard Clarke, and take al Qaeda serious before 9/11? Why didn t he heed the Clinton administration s warning that al Qaeda should be a top priority, or at least take some action after receiving his Daily Brief just weeks before 9/11, titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.?

Clarke, who helped shape terrorism policies under President Reagan, the first President Bush, and was then held over by the Clinton administration and the current one (before resigning), said to CBS s Leslie Stahl during a March interview: Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he s done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. 

The Bush administration misled our nation into the war in Iraq and continues to be misleading about it. The latest reasoning the Bush administration gives for the war is that we are taking the war to the terrorists so that we won t have to fight them at home. But Iraq was not involved in terrorist acts against the U.S., as was recently confirmed by the 9/11 commission. Members of al Qaeda, and groups like it, were not in Iraq before the war, but they are now and in growing numbers.

Bush s assertions that his policies have made us safer from terrorism are about as credible as his false claims of WMDs in Iraq. James Fallows, a prominent national-security journalist, recently wrote in the Atlantic Magazine: It is hard to find a counterterrorism specialist who thinks the Iraq war has reduced rather than increased the threat to the United States.  Vincent Cannistaro, a former chief of counterterrorism at the CIA under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has said that the Iraq war accelerated terrorism  by metastasizing  it. Besides the increase of terrorist attacks worldwide and the feeling of vulnerability that brings, our safety is compromised by the unprecedented low opinion the world now has of America. President Bush s unprovoked, preemptive war, conducted under false pretenses, has made the world suspicious of us.

Were making progress in Iraq,  the president continues to claim, but the facts belie his assertion. The Christian Science Monitor recently cited a report by the British Royal Institute of International Affairs, which concluded that civil war in Iraq was the most likely outcome of the chaos there. In a leaked report about Iraq, written in July, the CIA estimated a continuation of violent unrest or civil war. Currently, insurgents control parts of Ramadi, Falluja, Baguba, and Samarra in central Iraq, as reported in a New York Times story (September 8th) titled U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq.  Warlords are regaining control in Afghanistan and the Taliban is reforming as well, a likely result of the Bush administration diverting our attention and resources from there onto Iraq.

I d like to give President Bush credit for recently admitting that he miscalculated post war conditions in Iraq, but I know that it wasn t a miscalculation as much as it was that he chose to ignore bipartisan advice that predicted exactly what is taking place now. Even his own father, when talking about the first Gulf War, said in 1998, Extending the war into Iraq would have incurred incalculable human and political costs &Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. 

Bush s campaign of misrepresentation isn t limited to his foreign policy. He s upbeat about the economy, but again, the facts don t justify his enthusiasm. According to a report released by the Census Bureau, the nation s poverty rate has risen for the third straight year. Bush s tax cuts since 2001 have shifted more of the tax burden from the nation s rich to middle-class families, says another report recently released by the Congressional Budget Office. And his job-loss record is the worst in modern times.

When Bush rouses Republican audiences by claiming that a Democrat will raise their taxes, he neglects to mention that Candidate Kerry has only said he will repeal Bush s tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000 a year. Bush relies on stereo-type characterizations of Democrats, but these days Democrats are the more fiscally responsible party, as evidenced by Clinton s ability to balance the budget and create budget surpluses. Under President Bush s leadership, we have spending like a drunken sailor  (as Senator John McCain defines it) and an all time record high deficit.

I ll be voting for John Kerry this November because I will feel safer with him as our president. New leadership may help to mend alliances and restore our credibility in the world. We owe it to our soldiers to hold President Bush accountable for his miscalculations and misrepresentations. We owe it to all the innocent lives lost in Iraq, not to get it so wrong again.

To read more political commentaries by Colleen Redman, visit the following links:

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