President Bush has failed the true test of character. Handed the American presidency, Bush has abused the power bestowed upon him. A man with character uses power discreetly. A moral man chooses patience over war. A man with ethical strength favors the needs of the many over the wants of the rich. A man of character is competent and dependable. Bush fails every one of these tests.
The American Right has talked a lot about character over the last ten years. Republicans told us that Clinton, a president who presided over peace and prosperity, was unfit to be president because he lacked character. We were told this before he was elected president, throughout his presidency, and after he completed his second term. During Clinton's presidency, Republicans shut down the federal government, impeached the president, and challenged his authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The American public resisted that nonsense. Sadly, the American media did not.
Unable to defeat Clinton, the Republicans and the American media teamed up to defeat a third Clinton term, the election of Al Gore. Again, the cry of the witch-hunt was character. It did not matter that Gore had not shown any propensity to abuse power as Bush had as governor of Texas, that Bush favored the wealthy, or that Gore was clearly more competent. Ralph Nader and the Green Party facilitated the Republican message by telling voters that Bush and Gore were interchangeable. Still, American voters did not fall for the character ploy. The United States Supreme Court made Bush the president. Characters, not character, put Bush in the White House.
Two years into the Bush presidency, the American Right continues to talk about character. They tell us that Bush, a president who has overseen warmongering and economic failure, is one of the greatest presidents of all time because he exudes character. In truth, Bush and the Republicans have told one lie after another. Bush and the Republicans lied about wanting a balanced budget. They lied about wanting to get government out of people's personal lives. They lied about promising not to get the nation involved in nation-building overseas. They lied about leaving no child behind. They lied about being compassionate. They lied about their competency.
At a time when America is threatened by a radical theocracy abroad, Bush tells us that he is on a mission from God. The American media, following the American Right, points to Bush's faith as a demonstration of his character. The irony is lost on them, but not on the rest of the world. Bush has consistently demonstrated one trait, a disdain for human life. The world fears Bush not because he has character, but because he lacks character.