Column: A bad month for Bush

By Matt Simmons

The Bush Administration is undoubtedly going through the most difficult stretch of his presidency. Oddly enough, it has only been a year since President Bush supposedly was given his “mandate” to continue with his conservative agenda. Since that time, however, his administration has transformed into the epitome of a failed presidency. President Bush must change the way the White House does business if he does not want to go down as the worst president in recent history.

The latest chapter in the Bush presidency is last Friday’s indictment of former senior White House aide I. Lewis Libby. Libby was indicted on obstruction of justice and perjury in an attempt to derail a grand jury investigation on the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, was an outspoken critic of the administration’s rush to war in Iraq.

Libby’s indictment reflects this administration’s longstanding disregard of the truth. This administration has consistently lied to Congress, the United Nations and most importantly, the American people. It was only a matter of time before they broke the law with their incessant distortions and fabrications.

But the indictment may have actually worked out in the president’s favor because it took media coverage away from the 2,000th casualty in the war in Iraq. Bush’s war is rapidly losing popularity. Not only do most Americans believe we should not have gone into Iraq when we did, the majority also wants the troops to start coming home. The administration still has no plan for securing the peace in Iraq. The Iraqi military and police forces are still unable to effectively fight the insurgency. Even Republicans in Congress are now starting to challenge Bush on his Iraq policy and call for a responsible exit strategy.

The president is not faring any better on the domestic side. He has not been able to corral soaring energy prices and instead supported an energy bill loaded with tax breaks for large oil companies. He has failed in balancing the budget and continues to tout tax cuts for the rich while at the same time cutting funding for education, health care and child welfare.

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And it is not just his fierce partisan opponents that have been critical of Bush. He was stiffed by his own party when he nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Miers decided to withdraw her nomination after weeks of intense criticism from several interest groups and politicians from the right. Miers served as a close aide to Bush and most likely would have been a solid conservative force on the court. Conservatives wanted someone younger and someone that was a clear right-wing ideologue. The Miers move left conservatives questioning Bush’s commitment to their causes and moderates accusing him of cowardly caving in to the right wing.

For Bush to salvage the rest of his presidency, he needs to alter the agenda that he foolishly believed was mandated by the American people last November. The President needs to take accountability for the growing fiasco in Iraq. The President should apologize for presenting very skeptical evidence as fact and getting us stuck in a quagmire. It is about time he devised a plan to bring our troops home.

And here at home, the president should admit that his tax cuts were excessive and ill-timed. He should roll back some of the cuts given to the very wealthy in order to help remedy the dismal fiscal situation in Washington.

But most importantly, this administration needs to talk straight with the American people from here on out. The administration must immediately discontinue the practice of pursuing political gain over telling the truth to American people and the rest of the world. It is very sad that we have reached the point where we cannot watch a press conference or listen to any members of this administration speak without the fear that we are being deceived.

Mr. President, this country can do better. And I think that you can, too.

Matt Simmons is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]