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Security Moms Should Look Closely at Bush
Published on Monday, October 4, 2004 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Security Moms Should Look Closely at Bush
By Susan Lenfestey

Security moms, the women who are said to be sliding over into President Bush's camp out of fear for the safety of their children, should take a better look at the man who is courting them.

George W. Bush is so unsympathetic to women that his first act in office was to reinstate the Reagan era's so-called "Global Gag Rule," under which foreign family planning agencies may not receive U.S. assistance if they provide abortion services, including counseling or referrals on abortion, even if they do so with their own funds.

For the past three years the Bush administration has also denied $34 million annually in funding for the U.N. Population Fund, which provides birth control, maternal and child health care, and HIV/AIDS prevention services for women in some of the world's most impoverished regions. This money could have prevented an estimated 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions and 4,700 maternal deaths, as well as 77,000 infant and child deaths each year.

So before they're lured into Bush's bubble world of faux security, these women should ask if he really has what it takes to help keep them and their children safe:

  • Will he provide good health care? Census data shows that 5.2 million people have lost their health insurance under Bush, bringing the total of uninsured Americans to 45 million, 27 million of them children. According to Dr. Judith Palfry, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, "The uncaring policies of the current administration are systematically shattering our promise to children."
  • Will he provide a living wage? Under Bush, well over a million jobs have been lost and one in eight people now live in poverty, an increase of 10 percent. Women took a steep decline and nearly one in six children are being raised in poverty, the biggest increase in a decade.
  • Will he provide good schools? President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act promised improvement for students and accountability from schools, yet all educational programs, including Head Start, have been funded at less than half of what was promised, and local school districts are forced to make ever deeper cuts, further stripping our struggling public schools.
  • Will he be financially responsible and not saddle the children with massive debt? Under Bush, the record-busting deficit continues to soar to new heights and weigh down our children's futures.
  • Will he keep our air and water clean? Our children are not safe when the air grows more foul and our lakes and streams are so full of mercury that pregnant women cannot eat the fish. By rolling back environmental policies, some in place since the Nixon administration, Bush has put the profits of his friends' energy companies above the health of his country's children.
  • Will he take a responsible approach to the war on terror? The 9/11 report clearly spelled out our nation's vulnerability to another attack. But the Homeland Security Act is still not fully funded, our first responders -- firefighters and police -- are being laid off, and we know where the National Guard is headed.
  • Finally, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Will he ever admit making mistakes? Despite Bush's early lies to the contrary, Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror until his blunders and bravado made it so.

His mismanaged occupation of Iraq has deprived us of the precious world sympathy we so tragically earned on 9/11. It has killed over 1,000 Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis while ceding control of cities such as Fallujah to the insurgents. (A similar reversal by a Democratic president would have brought yowls from an outraged Republican Congress.) It has made freedom fighters out of ideologues and fanatics out of moderates throughout the Muslim world. Yet when Bush whitewashed his tragic misadventure to a skeptical United

Nations and interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi sugarcoated Iraq's bitter future before an all-too eager U.S. Congress, most of the mainstream press reported their wishful thinking as fact.

It's not hard to see how a busy soccer mom, with little time for in-depth reading, could be transformed into a security mom.

But anyone looking beyond the eye-blink coverage can see that we're knee deep in big muddy, to borrow a phrase from our last misguided war. Some of Bush's own party members, Sens. Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel and John McCain among them, have questioned the way the invasion is now going. "We're in deep trouble in Iraq," says Hagel.

One last thing the security moms ought to ask as they consider Bush's offer. Will there be a return of the military draft, one that would leave no child behind, instead of the current "poverty draft" that cruelly selects those with the fewest financial or educational options?

If they take the time to look at his record instead of his promises, they'll see that the only "children" who are safer under President Bush are fetuses in the first trimester of gestation. Like a deadbeat dad, he wants to be there to help make them, and skedaddle once the bills start rolling in.

Susan Lenfestey is a Minneapolis writer.


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