Bush’s recent setbacks

George W. Bush has taken several political “hits” in recent weeks, proving that his vaunted “war on terrorism” is wearing thin as a smokescreen for his ultra-right gameplan. First was the vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination of Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Then came the Senate vote by a wide margin to kill Bush’s scheme to drill for oil in the arctic refuge.

Bush threw his support to former L.A. Mayor Riordan in the California primary as the GOP candidate to defeat Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. But GOP voters instead picked the utra-rightist William Simon, Jr., throwing the GOP into disarray.

Bush faced foreign policy setbacks, as well. His mixed message on the Middle East has left him discredited throughout the world, which has condemned Sharon’s brutal attack on the Palestinian people.

Arab nations are especially outraged just when Bush is seeking to expand his “war on terrorism” with an attack on Iraq.

The fact that the Bush administration took so long to condemn the coup in Venezuela and the information which points to possible U.S. involvement in organizing it, isolated the administration among the countries in Latin America and Caribbean and exposed their double-talk on the issue of democracy.

There are other signs of potential trouble. His administration is spinning hard to contain the Enron scandal as a purely “corporate” scandal. They fear that the Bush administration will be exposed as a servant of thieving corporations like Enron.

These setbacks are a sign of a shift in public attitude, a growing perception that Bush is using the “war on terrorism” as a cover for right-wing policies long rejected by the popular majority.

In this election year, we need to open wide the chinks in Bush’s armor and inflict defeat on the GOP ultra-right in next November’s election.

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Reich, White must testify

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has raised sharp questions about the Bush administration’s role in the abortive Venezuela coup d’etat. He points out that Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Otto J. Reich telephoned coup leader Pedro Carmona just hours before the coup.

We urge Dodd to subpoena Reich to testify under oath before his Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs to explain his role in overthrowing democratically elected President Hugo Chavez.

A Sept. 8, 1988, report of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says that the State Department Office of Public Diplomacy, then directed by Reich, was crawling with “CIA specialists in covert operations, military intelligence and psychological operations.” They secretly planted opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal and arranged interviews on CBS, branding as traitors lawmakers who had pushed through a bill cutting off aid to the mercenary contras in Nicaragua.

Reich, the report adds, oversaw “a private network of individuals and organizations” who “raised and funneled money to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands or to the secret Lake Resources bank account in Switzerland for disbursement at the direction of Oliver North. Almost all these activities were hidden from public view.”

Reich is not the only Iran-contra conspirator Bush has appointed. Others include Elliot Abrams and John Negroponte, cronies with North in the murderous Iran-contra enterprise.

Then there are the Enron executives named by Bush, starting with Army Secretary Thomas White, who now admits he consulted with Ken Lay and other Enron execs 60 times in person or by telephone from his Pentagon office. Earlier he lied, saying he spoke with them only 16 times.

What are the Democratic Senators waiting for? They hold the Senate majority and could convene public hearings to blow wide open Bush’s close links with these crimes, a thousand times more sinister than the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals. This is an election year.

The Democrats need to overcome their timidity and take the gloves off.

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