Shove it up your memory hole

For a real assessment of President Bush’s New Year agenda, assume he will do the opposite of everything promised in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

That’s no cheap shot, as the evidence will show, and it should come as welcome news to Democrats. Spending will increase, government will grow and America will continue to engage in feel-good misadventures to “liberate” the Third World.

Never mind Bush’s statements to the contrary. He now rivals Bill Clinton in his ability to pawn off nuggets of statistic fool’s gold as the crown jewels of conservatism.

The games began in the far-removed world of 2000. In the presidential debates that year, Bush sounded like a regular Pat Buchanan. Reviewing his words now is as ironic as listening to a Cleveland Browns player lecture about winning.

“I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, ‘We do it this way, so should you,'” Bush said.

A comment like this could land a lad on the National Security Agency phone log today, but it was Bush’s foreign policy six years ago. His criteria for deploying U.S. troops included “whether or not the mission was clear,” “whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped,” and “whether or not there was an exit strategy.”

In describing his reluctance to deploy force, Bush distanced himself from Vice President Al Gore, former giddy cheerleader for international joyrides.

“If we don’t have a clear vision of the military, if we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world (on) nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road, and I’m going to prevent that. I’m going to rebuild our military power. It’s one of the major priorities of my administration,” Bush said.

Are you beginning to understand my method of evaluating the president’s State of the Union comments?

The fun doesn’t stop with foreign affairs, however. Bush’s about-face on spending is even starker.

“The surest way to bust this economy is to increase the role and size of the federal budget,” he said in 2000.

From 2001 to 2005, the federal budget as a share of gross domestic product grew from 18.5 percent to 20.3 percent – and that’s no “fuzzy math.”

By Bush’s own standards, he is a far worse steward of tax dollars than Gore:

“Under Vice President Gore’s plan, he is going to grow the federal government in the largest increase since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1965. We’re talking about a massive government, folks. We’re talking about adding to or increasing 200 programs, 20,000 new bureaucrats.”

For the record, the Office of Personnel Management shows the federal employee roster has grown by 38,282 bureaucrats since the president’s inauguration.

Bush also failed the “What Would Johnson Do?” test. Johnson, the author of Medicare and modern welfare, boosted discretionary spending by 48.3 percent in five years. Bush increased it by 48.5 percent in four.

What is the remedy for all this duplicity? Bush had a suggestion (for Clinton) six years ago:

“People in the highest office of the land must be responsible for decisions they make in life.”

At least he got that right.

Adam Milasincic is a senior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].