The Ribald Reign of King George the Second

"I am a Uniter, not a Divider."
~ George W. Bush ~

Throughout his presidential campaign, George W. Bush repeated a single phrase over and over. "I'm a Uniter, not a Divider," he proclaimed. With this phrase Bush tried to convince the American people that he wasn't the kind of extreme politician who pushed for radical, unpopular policies. In anecdote after anecdote, Bush shared stories of reaching across the ideological divide to forge compromises that reflected the will of the majority of Americans. As the election debacle reached its conclusion and Bush began to choose his cabinet, he acknowledged "the American people want a President who seeks the best people from all walks of life."

This all sounds good. But it's just talk. In his first week as President, has George W. Bush walked the walk? Consider the following:

  1. George W. Bush's very first official act as President was to block the funding of family planning organizations. Bush's first executive order, issued on the 28th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, prohibits the funding of family planning organizations overseas if those organizations use their own privately raised funds to lobby their own governments in favor of less restrictive abortion laws. Although Bush justified his order by saying that "taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions," taxpayer funds were not in fact being used for those purposes, since that's been illegal since 1975. The executive order places a gag on family planning organizations worldwide, keeping them from simply discussing abortion issues if they want badly needed U.S. funds.

    In the United States, almost 80% of Americans support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion even when her life or health is not threatened (source: General Social Survey). Yet Bush's first official act keeps federally-funded family planning organizations from stating their support for such abortion rights.

    Is Bush a Uniter or a Divider?
  2. George W. Bush's cabinet is dominated by millionaires. Although Bush pledged to build a Cabinet that represented the diversity of American experience, his filthy rich Cabinet does not represent the economic reality of most Americans. The Associated Press has reported that Cabinet members Richard Cheney, Mitch Daniels, Donald Evans, Colin Powell, Anthony Principi, Donald Rumsfeld, Christine Todd Whitman and Paul O'Neill are millionaires many times over. John Ashcroft, Tommy Thompson and Mel Martinez have well over a million dollars in wealth. The poor man of the group, Rod Paige, still holds over half a million dollars in wealth.

    According to economist Edward Wolff, a majority of Americans are worth $11,700 or less. Can they expect Cabinet secretaries with over a hundred times their wealth to understand their daily lives?

    Is Bush a Uniter or a Divider?
  3. George W. Bush meets confidentially with corporate fatcats. As Associated Press reporter George Edmonson discovered, our new President began his year with a little lunch. Closed to the press and the public, it included a little gabfest with dozens of leaders of corporations like General Electric, Intel, Cisco Systems and Wal-Mart. Bush Spokesman Ari Fleischer explained that "maybe they have some thoughts on their mind that we haven't thought of."

    To date, has Bush held any lunches with labor groups, civil rights organizations, environmentalists, voters who were turned away at the polls, doctors, representatives of the disabled, of students, of teachers, of farmers? No, he hasn't gotten around to asking the opinions of these large groups yet. But he's covered the crucial CEO demographic right off the bat.

    Is Bush a Uniter or a Divider?

It's your right to decide where you stand on the issues of abortion, poverty and corporate welfare. But regardless of your position on these issues, it should be disturbing to note that Bush is beginning his Presidency by consistently aligning himself with tiny minorities. By working against the wishes of and without regard to the circumstances of a majority of Americans, he brings into question his Inaugural commitment to be "the President of All Americans." Even in his first week, the Uniter Divides.

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