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Bush's Rube Ruse Just Won't Cut It
Published on Sunday, October 15, 2006, by Long Island, NY Newsday
Bush's Rube Ruse Just Won't Cut It
by Les Payne
 
Let's go to the body count. President George W. Bush doesn't like numbers - or fancy words for that matter. At his ah-shucks press conference Wednesday in the Rose Garden, he declared: "Nobody has accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary."

This "Ozark Ike" shtick by our 43rd president has run its course. This wayward scion of one of the ranking ruling-class families has made a career of getting himself underestimated, then collecting on his family name big-time. Every job coming his way unduly, from Air National Guard lieutenant to owner of the baseball Texas Rangers, has been squandered. Now, this middle-aged Prodigal Son, who "wasted his substance in riotous living," has been empowered to oversee the ship of state, its treasure, honor and the future of its young.

The tumultuous selection of Bush in 2000 tested the elasticity of the U.S. Supreme Court in fielding a U.S. president. In the wake of 9/11 tremors, Bush and his agit-prop specialists have hoodwinked the Congress while bogging down the military in a needless war. Along the way, the White House has terrorized press freedoms, mocked international law and violated entrenched constitutional safeguards as basic as citizen privacy and habeas corpus.

Alas, this is not the work of an unsophisticated fumbler. This Bush ruse was revealed Wednesday - hopefully for all time - for the cover that it is. The president resorted to this trick in an attempt to wiggle off the horns of a reporter's question about slandering opponents who oppose his Iraq War as cowards who say let's "cut and run." The cornered Bush replied, "Their words are more sophisticated than mine. But when you pull out before the job is done, that's cut and run as far as I'm concerned."

This "job" to be "done" in Iraq was never explained by the plain-talking Bush, who remembers his devastatingly premature celebration of "mission accomplished." Yet, in gearing up for the November elections, the "war president" is clearly hoping that voters are so frightened by his "cut and run" charges that they will insist on staying and bleeding and killing.

This brings us back to the numbers.

Some 655,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, have died as a result of the U.S. invasion, according to a new study published in The Lancet, a medical journal. Against an Iraqi population of 26 million, this war death toll would be equivalent to some 7.6 million war dead in the United States. with its population of nearly 300 million. Suzanne Malveaux of CNN gave President Bush a chance to square these painstakingly computed figures by reputable public health specialists with the 30,000 figure he gave in a December speech. "That figure is 20 times [higher than] the figure you cited," she said. "Do you care to amend or update your figure, and do you consider this a credible report?"

The president unsophisticated with words turned Einstein with numbers. "I stand by my [30,000] figure," Bush replied. "A lot of innocent people have lost their life - 600,000, or whatever they guessed at, is just - it's not credible."

Supervised by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University, the study employed "cluster sampling" to visit 33 neighborhoods in Iraq, according to news reports. The widely accepted methodology, similar to exit polling, fielded interviewers, fluent in English and Arabic, to record births and deaths in targeted areas since 2002. Though the recorded mortality rate was higher than expected, it matched results from a 2004 Johns Hopkins survey that reflected a greater number of war deaths than recorded by the U.S. and British military.

President Bush is correct about one thing: "A lot of innocent people have lost their life." No matter whose figures are correct, Americans are coming to realize that much of this innocent Iraqi blood being shed in their name with their tax dollars could have been avoided. Some 51 percent believe that President Bush "deliberately misled" them to justify the war, according to a new Time magazine-"Oprah Winfrey Show" poll.

Americans must decide - and decide soon - just what to do about a sitting U.S. president who "deliberately misled" them into a needless war where tens of thousands of innocent civilians, no matter who's counting, continue to die.

© 2006 Newsday, Inc.

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