Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Taking Stock

The United States is six months away from electing new President. It's time to take stock of where we are under our current one:

(1) We’re as polarized as we have been in a long time. At the top of the polarization menu are same sex marriages and the war in Iraq, both hot buttons with the Bush White House.

(2) The ?anything goes to ?protect? the country? attitude has not only produced the greatest threat to civil liberties in decades but has resulted in the prisoner abuses in Iraq and the greatest hatred for the United States from Middle Eastern countries during my lifetime. The United States continues to exist on a ?war footing? in the naïve belief that the war on terrorism will be won like some victory on a battlefield. Nothing could be further from the truth. ?1984? has hit only twenty years late.

(3) The economy is in bad shape and going downhill. Gas prices are reaching record levels. Anyone think this is a coincidence considering the war in Iraq and the upcoming elections? I don’t! We’ve done nothing since the 1970’s to move the country off an economy run on oil, and the Bush Administration’s policies have increased our dependence rather than our independence. Exploiting and spoiling the environment is not part of the right answer.

(4) Heard anything good about the environment lately? I haven’t!

(5) While Mr. Cheney continues to run almost invisibly, his great charge, Halliburton, continues to remain in the headline news for improprieties.

(6) Bush’s great national vision for NASA is failing because he doesn’t have the support for it and he’s pushed the economy into such a mess with the war in Iraq. Additionally, his unrealistic 2010 ?line in the sand? for the shuttle is already creating issues for the shuttle program as programs, contractors, and elements now temper all decisions with the knowledge we won’t be flying in a few years. Bush has put the agency on a road to failure, not success. I’ve said all along that the Bush plan was unrealistic even if the overall vision was correct.

If our national situation doesn’t improve considerably, Bush has little chance of winning the election. The really sad thing is that Kerry doesn’t seem to be a standout candidate, either; where has he gone? This next election is very likely to be more of an issue about throwing someone out rather than voting someone really cool in.