Roadmap to What?

Bush W. is now presiding over the largest budget deficit in U. S. history. At $291 billion and counting, on the way to $400 billion and beyond, he has already bettered his hapless dad’s record of dischievement by more than a billion dollars. Dad left office clinically depressed, by all accounts. Does this mean Junior can look forward to years of shock treatments and a Prozac diet?

According to reports, his domestic approval ratings have dropped by 15 points in the past two months. Abroad, forget about it. Numbers don’t go that low.

Judging by the televised expression on his face, Bush W. would have to show a lot of improvement before we could call him depressed.

A few short days ago his spokespeople were on the talk shows boasting that we wouldn’t have the Road Map and “all the hope it represents” if their boss hadn’t invaded Iraq. Now, the man who misled his country into a war the whole planet opposed is railing bitterly against those who “hate peace.” Terrorists, it seems, have ignored the Road Map and killed some more civilians in the Middle East.

Such behavior must be condemned, says the president, in the “strongest possible terms.” What language, one wonders, would he use if terrorists killed 3,240 civilians in a single month, as the Associated Press now says Bush W. did in Iraq, 1,896 of them in Baghdad alone? Other estimates place the number of civilian dead as high as 7,200.

The same man who sneered when UN weapons inspectors asked for more time now says that he, too, needs more time, please, to look for weapons of mass destruction. How many more Americans will die looking for them, or directing traffic while others look for them?

Some people say they don’t care about the weapons. They’re just glad we went out and whipped somebody and taught those Arabs a lesson. We won, didn’t we? Who cares about the truth?

Anyway, Saddam deserved what he got. (Really? What exactly did he get, so far, apart from a billion dollars in cash?)

But even people who make those unfeeling arguments must surely care about the fate of American and British “coalition” forces in Iraq, one or two of whom are still being killed every day. In addition to bullets, bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, our troops are now enduring full summer, with no end in sight. No wonder reports of “restlessness” and “discontent” are bubbling to the surface.

The temperature here in Portland, Oregon was in the high 90s last week, bordering on the unbearable. We worried about the flowers wilting right off the floats in the Grand Floral Parade. Stories of heat exhaustion and sunstroke led the news. If high heat was a serious threat to the annual Rose Festival here in the Pacific Northwest, what must it have been like in the Iraqi desert?

While the sweltering troops were brushing flies out of their faces, eating food from plastic tubes and looking for WMDs in back alleys and abandoned wells, Bush W. was looking for ways to drop veterans from the VA health care system so his rich pals can have bigger tax cuts.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden remains at large, and Saddam Hussein has allegedly been spotted moving freely around Iraq. For all we know, both men were at the Mets game the other night.

* * *

Maybe they should send Jeff Postel to look for Saddam and bin Laden. Postel, a rookie cop on routine patrol, recently nabbed domestic terrorist suspect Eric Robert Rudolph, who had eluded the FBI for years. Postel, who makes $21,000 a year, apprehended Rudolph, considered highly dangerous, without firing a shot, even though he saw Rudolph holding a black object the officer thought was probably a gun. (It turned out to be a flashlight.)

Compare and contrast, if you will, Postel’s actions with those of three Portland police officers, one of whom fired a shot that killed an apparently unarmed 21-year-old Black woman named Kendra James as she tried to drive off from a traffic stop in North Portland.

* * *

Several people have written to protest my recent comment that Kennedy “more-or-less” stole the 1960 election from Nixon, “with a little help from Mayor Daley,” arguing that while plenty of fraud may have gone on in lllinois, it probably wasn’t enough to swing the election. Turns out they may be right.

Doesn’t influence the point I was trying to make: some on the left have made a much bigger deal out of Bush stealing Florida from Gore than Gore himself or Democrats in general have done, which itself speaks volumes. And Bush W. isn’t planning to steal the next election, he’s planning to buy it fair and square. The Republicans have already raised “more money than God,” and their nominee will probably spend more money than all the Democratic contenders put together could raise, let alone any one of them alone.

It could look a lot like the U.S. military against Saddam’s conscripts, at least in terms of resources. And don’t forget: shortly before Bush W. invaded Iraq, Saddam challenged him to a debate. Will the Democratic nominee get the same answer Saddam got?

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. His scorching new CD, Way Down Here, is now available from CounterPunch.

He can be reached at:

Visit his website at


DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.