Immediately after the November 2004 election in my column titled "Joe Broods On Dubya" I wrote that I hoped President George W. Bush would honor his promise to represent all of the people during his second term.
Two months have passed since that November 8th piece and I`m more uncomfortable than ever with Bush.
The main issue remains the Iraq War. According to recent polls, more than 50% of Americans disapprove of the War, do not agree with how the war is managed and do not feel that the American fatalities are worth the advertised goal of a "free Iraq."
America`s growing impatience with the war is easily understood. No official statement made about Iraq in 18 months has panned out.
Claims that Saddam had WMD`s and ties to Al Queda were exposed as flawed months ago.
American troops were met with bullets not with flowers.
On the campaign trail, Bush taunted the Iraqi insurgency. "Bring them on," he challenged.
But as of this writing insurgents have killed 207 American troops since Bush`s re-election, bringing the total dead to more than 1,300. The estimated number of wounded is 15,000.
The Pentagon reports the deaths of Iraqi civilians and soldiers—our allies—with indifference.
And despite promises to the contrary, the American people—not oil revenues—are financing the war.
In March 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate hearing: "When it comes to reconstruction, before we turn to the American taxpayer, we will turn first to the resources of the Iraqi government and the international community."
On the same day, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz addressed a House of Representatives appropriations hearing: "There`s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn`t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people."
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz`s heady pronouncements—like everything else the Pentagon has said about Iraq—-were false.
Get ready to be hit up again for a major increase in the Iraq War budget.
The Bush administration, which had privately told Congress before the election that it would request $75 billion in additional funding for the war, will actually request $100 billion in "supplemental funding" later this month.
This will be the third special budget request to cover the Iraq military costs. The administration asked for $55.8 billion in April 2003, $71.8 billion in November 2003 and $25 billion in May 2004.
Total military funding for Iraq now stands at $152.6 billion
John Pike, a defense specialist at GlobalSecurity.org, a military think tank in Alexandria, Virginia, said that the Pentagon "… ran out of the 2004 budget a month early [and] had to borrow [from] 2005 They`re already starting to suggest that the 2005 budget is going to be $100 billion for one year alone."
Pike added that the Iraq operation has "been running over a billion a week thus far. I think we`re probably getting up to $2 billion a week fairly soon."
According to a new study released jointly by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus, two Washington, D.C.-based non-profit institutions, these billions translate into a cost per household of $1600.
Using the modest assumption of a short three-year war, the study projects that final tab per family will be $3,415.
Karen Dolan, a co-author of the report, points out that to finance the Iraq War, the White House proposes to eliminate programs including grants for firefighters` assistance, low-income schools, family literacy, rural housing and economic development.
With no end in sight to the killing in Iraq or the war`s costs, indications from Bush of humility—if not contrition—would be appropriate.
Instead the message coming through loud and clear out from the White House is: Party On!
Beginning on January 18th, Bush will hold a three-day, $40 million inauguration (exclusive of security expenses) including nine separate gala balls.
Compare Bush`s extravaganza to how Franklin Delano Roosevelt behaved during the peak of World War II.
Instead of an inaugural, Roosevelt`s 1945 ceremony consisted of a small luncheon and a 559-word address. Unlike Bush who is promoting permanent tax cuts, FDR encouraged savings to reduce America`s deficit and offered war bonds for sale.
Detractors will correctly argue that Iraq is not World War II. And they can further make the point that Roosevelt, on death`s doorstep in 1945, was physically incapable of doing more than hosting a modest gathering.
But no amount of arguing can change the fact that the Bush administration—without any sense of decorum—marches to its own drummer regardless of what Iraq costs ordinary Americans in either human life or financial burden.