If there’s one thing George W. Bush appreciates it’s hard work. At least he claims to on television. I mean, sure the majority of his policies benefit those who live off stock dividends and inheritance instead of those who stand on their feet ringing up groceries or risk their lives in coal mines. But we’ve all seen him in blue jeans and a cowboy hat clearing brush on his ranch. He’s a cowboy. On a steel horse he rides…
Oh, wait. That’s Bon Jovi.
Still, all Bush’s talk about hard work, the man didn’t work very hard to be Between The Lines’ Creep of the Year for 2006. Oh, he’s a creep all right, but in the grand scheme of things he just kind of stood by and let it come to him.
It’s not that the competition wasn’t fierce. Runners up for Creep 2006 were U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Dick DeVos and James Dobson.
2006 was not a good year for Bush. His approval rating reached rock bottom, things continued going to hell in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans were embroiled in scandal after scandal, Ted Haggard and Rep. Mark Foley, two guys who’d been banging the tambourine for Bush, were outed as big old self-hating homos, Iran and North Korea were arming themselves with nukes.
Bush managed to eek ahead of the Creep pack largely by sticking to the GOP playbook. When all else fails, blame the gays. People can’t get upset about soldiers dying when the specter of two guys tongue kissing is looming over America.
In fact, Bush kicked the year off by he lumping the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandals in with gay couples getting married during his State of the Union address on Jan. 31, 2006. “Many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions,” Bush said. “They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.”
Responding to the speech Eric Stern, National Stonewall Democrats executive director said, “An ethical President would sharpen his focus on winning the War on Terror … and addressing real problems that face our nation at home.”
Of course, we didn’t have an ethical president. We still don’t.
Five months later Bush stood in a room of marriage equality opponents and put his hands together for amending the Constitution to ban gay couples from saying “I do.”
“Marriage is the most fundamental institution of civilization, and it should not be redefined by activist judges,” Bush said. “You are here because you strongly support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, and I am proud to stand with you.”
He railed against “activist judges” repeatedly in the 10-minute speech.
As I pointed out then, “That the Bush administration has no regard for LGBT people is despicable. That the Bush administration has no respect for the rule of law is terrifying.”
No matter how you feel about gay folks, the checks and balances in our government were a really nifty idea. Anyone who dismisses an entire branch of government – unless of course he’s appointing right-wing “activist” judges of his own – because he sees it as a mere stumbling block on his way to unlimited power does not respect, nor deserve to hold, the office of the president.
The Oct. 25, 2006, New Jersey Supreme Court marriage ruling gave Bush more fuel to fire up his right wing base. Clearly he saw it as a potential boon to the upcoming elections.
Bush vowed to “defend” marriage. As I wrote then, “Never mind that he can’t protect U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor does he seem able to protect the U.S. from nuke-toting countries like Iran and North Korea. Bush may be breeding terrorists overseas with his disastrous foreign policy, but at least he won’t let two guys tie the knot.”
“Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage,” Bush said on Oct. 26. “I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.”
Of course, this was at the height of the Rep. Mark Foley scandal when the spotlight was turned on gay staffers working for anti-gay Republicans. So Bush’s chest thumping on the gay marriage issue sounded a little, well, weak.
The New York Times summed it up perfectly in an Oct. 28 editorial. “If the last month has taught us anything about the Republican Party, it is that homophobia is campaign strategy, not conviction. Congressmen who trust their careers to gay staffers vote for laws to enshrine second-class citizenship for gays in the Constitution. Gay appointees and their partners are treated as married people at official ceremonies and social gatherings. Then whenever an election rolls around, the whole team pretends it’s on a mission to save America from gay marriage.”
Thankfully on Nov. 4 Americans gave a collective cry of “enough!” by pulling the lever for Democrats and sweeping out some of the vilest Republicans (George Allen and Rick Santorum, for instance). Bush no longer has a House and Senate filled with “yes” men. As 2007 begins the Democrats hold the reigns. Right now we as a country are headed right off a cliff. Let’s hope the Dems have enough muscle to yank us to the left.