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The Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Bush's Legacy in the Making

So George Bush wants a legacy. Maybe precipitous economic decline, the widest gulf between the poor and the rich since the Great Depression and war without end don't feel like a legacy to him. But his term as president didn't just involve destroying our economy and waging unwinnable wars. None of that would have been possible without rampant corruption, a Congress that resembles a National Geographic special on jelly fish, and lots and lots of secrecy.No if there's one thing this administration has: it's legacy.

In fact as Bush and Cheney near the end of their second term I'm encouraged by of one of my mother's favorite sayings, "It's like beating yourself in the head, 'cause it feels so good when you stop."

So what's this rush to fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem all about?

Well it's still about Bush's legacy; but it's about some how getting a good one.

Have you ever been to a neighborhood block party when all of a sudden the guy shows up that everyone knows beats his wife and kids and bullies the folks around him? Oh sure, the hostess is polite and offers him iced-tea and deviled eggs. But you take a step back and hope he doesn't come over and start talking to you.

No one respects him at the party. They speak viciously behind his back. But they let him think he's welcome because it's safer than telling him not to come.

Before you intellectually or viscerally rush to defend the president of the United States from the comparison to a child abuser let me remind you of a few things. I won't focus on the obvious - his veto of the children's healthcare bill.

No, let's start with his abandonment of the weakest among us; his failure to protect us, our families and the law enforcement professionals that serve as first responders against domestic violence.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee explained it succinctly, "The Bush Administration's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007 ... calls for deep cuts in crime-prevention programs that state and local police and sheriff's departments have long relied upon, including key Justice Department efforts such as Byrne Grants, the Crime Victims Fund, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Act and the Violence Against Women Act Programs."

Need more evidence? How full is your oil tank? Physicians across the country like Dr. Joanne Cox, associate chief of general pediatrics division at Children's Hospital in Boston, are cautioning against keeping houses with children in them too cold. There is great concern for homes with infants because "wrapping a baby in heavy blankets or clothing at night is generally considered unsafe because it raises the chances of suffocation."

Parents choosing between heating their homes and buying medicine and food are on the rise: Search the GateHouse News Service online and you can read all about it. Especially troubling is the story about the Quincy, Mass., mom who's doctors have told her to make every sacrifice possible to keep her 4-month-old baby warm because he is having trouble growing and gaining weight. And for those of you who think it's all about her living off the government, you're right. She's on a meager fixed government paycheck that she can't do anything about right now because her husband is away ... serving in Iraq.

And of course you've seen the new numbers released by the Institute of Medicine Analysis on the Impact of Uninsurance on Mortality - yep, 22,000 people die each year in the United States because they lack access to health care. That's up from 18,000 in 2002.

The president is watching his self proclaimed terrorism fighting legacy collapse too. He's increasingly known as the world's bully - not the world's defender - and his partners keep falling away.

Poland, one of the largest coalition members remaining, elected a new prime minister who promised to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2008. Now he's informed the administration that they've also postponed Bush's missile program - indefinitely.

So our president has decided to turn his attention to the problems between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He'll gain entree by promising them money and protection: increasing your grandchildren's debt.

I hope he likes iced-tea and deviled eggs.

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is now available.


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