The last four years have not been easy for the country.
President Bush has given the Daily’s editorial board plenty
to lament about: The economy’s in shambles, the situation in
Iraq is worsening and Afghanistan has vanished from the public
consciousness. But there’s an election in five days. And if
things go well, Bush will be packing his bags and heading back to
his Crawford ranch.
Digging a moneyless pit
I find it astounding that the same Republican Party that
proposed a federal balanced budget amendment as part of its
Contract with America in the mid ’90s now strongly supports a
president who is, by any objective standard, fiscally
irresponsible. Our nation, which had a budget surplus four years
ago, is now running the largest deficits in its history. It is true
that a faltering economy and Sept. 11 may have wiped out the
surplus under any president. These events, however, cannot explain
three years of double-digit increases in discretionary spending
under Bush. Nothing except the president’s devotion to an
extreme right-wing ideology can explain his obsession with tax cuts
disproportionately benefiting the wealthy, including a tax cut
while the nation was at war and running a deficit. One can truly
say that our nation owes Bush a debt we might never be able to
— Christopher Zbrozek
Abusing the Sept. 11 mandate
A good leader does not exploit his nation in its most vulnerable
moments to advance his political agenda. Even more tragic than the
events of Sept. 11 is the way President Bush capitalized on the
rare atmosphere of national unity and bipartisanship.
The Bush presidency is not complicated. With color-coded terror
alerts and the language of the “enemy combatant,” the
administration created an environment ripe for the loss of civil
rights and civil liberties. Fear is used to manipulate the American
public into adopting some of the most conservative and radical
ideology this nation has ever seen.
The president’s war on terrorism is one based on
principles, not facts — on resolve, not results. Osama bin
Laden has not been brought to justice, no weapons of mass
destruction have been found and the administration has never
established a credible link between Iraq and Sept. 11. In our
righteous fervor, we have alienated our allies and caused the
recruitment of more terrorists.
The president has succeeded in acquainting support for the war
in Iraq with patriotism. Citizens who disagree with the president
are no longer exercising their constitutional right to dissent but
are “unpatriotic.” The opportunity to hold an
intelligent debate over how to win the war on terror was lost.
— Mara Gay
The Iraqi mistake
Despite overwhelming evidence that Saddam Hussein was not an
impending threat to the American homeland, President Bush’s
bravado and decision to start an unnecessary war has placed the
United States. In greater danger and has caused a loss of respect
and influence throughout the world. The war has been plagued with
miscues from the Bush administration that have cost thousands of
American lives. Torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib represents the
fleeting ethics of the administration. Insufficient numbers of U.S.
troops and the decision to disband the Iraqi army following the
invasion left a severe shortage of manpower to seal the border,
allowing hundreds of terrorists to flood the country and organize a
devastating insurgency. If anything, the war with Iraq has hurt the
broader war on terrorism.
When it became apparent that weapons of mass destruction were
not to be found, Bush flip flopped by suddenly claiming that the
war was fought to liberate the people of Iraq. Bush has proven
inept in running the post-war effort, and worse, he is too stubborn
to accept his mistakes and plot a new course. New leadership is
needed to win the peace in Iraq and to repair America’s
standing with the world community.
— Brian Slade
The necessity of stem cells
Stem cell research has allowed a multitude of breakthroughs and
advancements in the field of medicine. Stem cells, directed to
differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a
renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases
including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, spinal
cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Stem cells can also be used to test new drugs. In August 2001,
President Bush gave a speech in which he detailed his thoughts and
plans regarding stem cell research. He stated that he would allow
for continued research on the 60 genetically diverse stem cell
lines that already existed at the time, so as to avoid
“crossing a fundamental moral line, by providing taxpayer
funding that would sanction or encourage destruction of human
embryos that have at least the potential for life.”
Presently, the president is not nearly as supportive, as he is
attempting to pass a law that would imprison and heavily fine any
researcher, doctor or patient who uses a new medical procedure
called somatic cell nuclear transfer to treat a debilitating
illness. H.R. 534, the bill that the president supports, has
already been passed by a mostly Republican coalition in the U.S.
House of Representatives and is now moving through the Senate.
While stem cell research certainly becomes complicated by the great
deal of moral issues it encompasses, if its funding is lessened and
its growth is restricted, the medical community will be forced to
take a resounding step backwards. More importantly, the
implications of this will be greatly expanded, as the restrictions
will hinder the medical help that is currently available to
patients in need.
— Katherine Cantor
Failing marks in education policy
The President’s main plan to improve the education system,
the No Child Left Behind Act, is greatly flawed both in principle
and in practice. NCLB proposes to hold schools accountable for not
performing adequately, but fails to provide any resources to
improve the standard of education in these “failing”
schools. In fact, it cuts funding from schools that perform badly.
This results in the education standards in these schools falling
Overall, the NCLB does little to improve the education standards
in schools that most need help.
— Rajiv Prabhakar
Reclaiming reproductive rights
Beyond President Bush’s proclivity to appoint justices
against Roe v. Wade, he instituted many other violations of
reproductive rights during his term that cannot continue.
Bush reinstated the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits countries
receiving U.S. aid from providing abortion-related family planning
or clinics. This wields economic power to deny services that
virtually sentence women to death. According to the World Health
Organization, 20 million unsafe abortions occur annually, nearly
all in developing countries.
He also appointed Dr. David Hagar to the Food and Drug
Administration’s reproductive health panel. Hagar wrote a
book suggesting women’s menstrual pains should be alleviated
through reading the Bible. This is the man who has control of the
decision to allow access to the morning-after pill.
Bush’s policies indicate a belief that women cannot make
decisions regarding their bodies and places greater emphasis on
religion than modern medicine.
In a shameful election tactic and personal attack on the gay
community, President Bush endorsed a constitutional ban on gay
marriage. Not since the days of the Jim Crow segregation laws has
this country faced the prospect of discrimination being written
into the Constitution. Now, after years of progress, President Bush
wants to deny personal freedom to consenting adult American
In this progressive era of openness and acceptance, the
president has opted to isolate homosexuals. Bush must be voted out
of office, or this discriminatory amendment could proceed. Voters
must not forget that every single American is entitled by law to
“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” —
and this basic right is at risk under the Bush administration.
A disregard for science
President Bush’s overall policy on science has been a
disaster. By politicizing findings that the administration finds
distasteful it is hampering our country’s ability to make
informed policy decisions. Nobel laureates of various political
persuasions have spoken out against the administrations’
attempts to institutionally direct the flow of information that
gets reviewed and released. One wonders how far the Straussian
strain of neoconservatism has seeped into the administration when
they try to clamp down on scientific data and ask litmus test
questions to advisory panel nominees. Unfettered scientific data is
more important than ever in making the hard decisions relating to
energy, the environment, and globalization.
— Zackery Denfeld