October 1, 2004
Bush was driven to distraction during the debate. (see this transcript.) His eyes were zapping around like bats. His smirk was twisted into a look of consternation and fury, as if he was going to chew himself up. He's not used to being confronted with any disagreement. He's been so sheltered for so long from any dissent, that he was ready to run over and strangle Kerry for actually confronting him. It's such a rare occasion. They make everyone at their "town meetings" sign a loyalty oath. They rule the White House press corps with an iron hand. If you want a seat, you play by the rules. When Bush "faced" the 9/11 commission he insisted it be behind closed doors, not recorded, not under oath, and Dick Cheney had to be by his side. But somehow the tradition of "debating" has become so entrenched in the American system, Bush was not able to duck this debate.
Kerry is a very skilled debater. He knows about these things. He took notes. He scoped out the essential points of Bush's arguments, and organized effective, concise answers. When Kerry was talking, Bush wasn't doing that. He did pick up a pen later in the debate, but most of the time he was staring at Kerry, working his mouth, batting his eyes, turning his head, expressing rage. And like a mad bull he became progressively less able to organize his thoughts. He was just barely hanging on to coherence. He was reliving his lifelong struggles as a learning disabled kid who had trouble reading, trouble following through an extended thought process, and felt rage when someone subjected him to pressure to do it. He becomes defensive, as if the issue is what he knows. It's always someone playing "gotcha" to Bush. "Of course I know it was Osama bin Laden who attack us," he said. "I know that!" As if it was extremely significant that he knew that fact. Bush had said, "I didn't want to go to war. But the enemy attacked us..." Kerry pointed out that it wasn't Iraq that attacked America, but Osama bin Laden. And that was Bush's answer.
Bush was playing an entirely different game. He's no analytic thinker. He has only the most rudimentary knowledge of the wide range of issues that a president must be concerned with. He has succeeded in making his whole presidency about Iraq, so he only has to be fluent in one subject. But as it has become increasingly clear that the situation in Iraq is a disaster out of control, the issue of Iraq has led back to the issue of his competence to be president.
It would have been pointless for Bush to try to match Kerry point for point on the issues. He had to fall back on his familiar practice of repeating his simplistic slogans. "Because Saddam Hussein is out of power, the world is a safer place." He tried to make the most of the fact that he is the president. "I wake up every morning thinking about how to protect America. That's my job! I work with Director Mueller of the FBI; comes in my office when I'm in Washington every morning, talking about how to protect us. There's a lot of really good people working hard to do so. It's hard work."
"I know how these people [world leaders] think. I talk to them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently."
"I know how hard it is to make the decision to send people into harm's way. That's the hardest decision a president makes."
Bush dropped a lot of zingers. He was on the defensive, of course. He's so vulnerable on every issue. Now he has a record. In 2000 a performance based on nice sounding promises was okay. Bush was just a face and a name, guy who had served one full term as governor of Texas, an office with little power even in the Texas state government. But now he has a record he must defend. And there's not much to be proud of.
One of the strangest things he said was, referring to a woman he said he encountered who had lost her husband in Iraq. "It was hard work loving her, as best as I could, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm's way." Odd that he would talk about how hard it was for him to "love her," rather than the excruciating pain she must have been feeling over the loss of her son. He's a man of no empathy. "I don't understand how poor people think," he said once.
He repeated the phrase "hard work" 11 times.
A great moment was when Bush tried to counter Kerry's charge that Bush hadn't taken time to build a coalition before attacking Iraq. "He said we don't have any allies in this war," he said. "What does he say to Tony Blair? What does he say to ... Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland." Well, at least he had one credible ally. But as Kerry pointed out, the U.S. is taking 90% of the casualties and footing 90% of the $200 billion the war has cost so far.
One of Bush's strangest moments was when moderator Jim Lehrer brought up a Bush statement that there had been miscalculations in the war in Iraq.
LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes. You have said there was a, quote, miscalculation, of what the conditions would be in post-war Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen?
BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in. But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't. And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work." Any clues what that was about?
A great glimpse of the Bush megalomania was when Bush said: "My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves. Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide. I decided the right action was in Iraq."
I get to decide. Not Osama bin Laden. I decide. The nice thing about being president is you don't have to ask anyone, he once said. That's a big issue with him. It'd be easier if it was a dictatorship, he once said.
Blair's Heart Fails -- The greatest personal tragedy of Tony Blair is that he is a man with some conscience, some heart and he put his faith in George W. Bush and it destroyed his career. It shattered his base of support. It sealed his fate as a failed prime minister irrevocably. It was a blunder that destroyed his standing as a leader, undermined his credibility and put him into a situation of decline in which it was only a matter of a short time before his power unraveled entirely. And it broke his heart. Unlike Bush, he is not impervious to the personal tragedy of what he has done. The recent incident with the hostage who is pleading for his life has deeply cut into Blair's soul. The weight of what he has done is bearing down upon him. His heart problems are not a surprise. He is a broken man. His heart is broken. His career is over. His place in history is fixed. He is the anti-Churchill in British history. He took Britain to its most shameful hour. Apart from the disaster that has been wreaked upon the people of Iraq and of Britain as a consequence of his abetting the Bush fraudulent war, there is the great personal tragedy. He was a man of great promise. But no more. Scotsman Paul Krugman: "Most Americans aren't aware of all this. The sheer scale of Mr. Bush's foreign policy failures insulates him from its political consequences: voters aren't ready to believe how badly the war in Iraq is going, let alone how badly America's moral position in the world has deteriorated. But the rest of the world has already lost faith in us. In fact, let me make a prediction: if Mr. Bush gets a second term, we will soon have no democracies left among our allies - no, not even Tony Blair's Britain. Mr. Bush will be left with the support of regimes that don't worry about the legalities - regimes like Vladimir Putin's Russia." Zogby: The Race Is Still Kerry’s To Lose.
October 6, 2004
Cheney in WonderlandCheney's relationship with the truth is a magical one, that of small child. He thinks he can say whatever he wants and that will make it so. Or at least he can get away with it. No one will realize or they won't remember. In last night's debate he asserted that he "never suggested" that there was a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. He's been suggesting it for years relentlessly. He's been the last holdout as the others in the Bush administration caved into reality one by one. Now he thinks he can just deny it on TV and it will be as if it never happened.
Cheney's performance in the debate must be evaluated as just that, a performance. His ability to obscure the truth successfully will be the measure of his success in the debate, because the truth is unjustifiable and extremely unpleasant. So how does one evaluate lying as an element in a debate? In a real debate in a high school or college it would count against you. But it's different in a presidential debate. In a presidential debate you can lie, and if you can do it smoothly and you're on the side the corporate networks support, it will work in your favor -- as long as you display "gravitas" while you do it.
Check out some of Cheney's debate lies listed at MoveOn.org In Black and White -- Here's the full transcript of the debate. Getting Senile? Or Just More Lies? Here's a photo of Cheney and Edwards together in February 2001, though he claims he never met Edwards till the debate. See also at this site a perceptive and entertaining insight into the debate by William Rivers Pitt. "The other problem for Cheney, of course, was the way he lied with nearly every word that passed his curled lips. It was a virtuoso performance of prevarication, obfuscation and outright balderdash. On Thursday night, George W. Bush played the part of a man who couldn't possibly defend his record. On Tuesday night, Cheney acted as though that record did not exist." An interesting opinion piece on the debate by CBS News's Dick Meyer. "Edwards Shoots And Scores" And an online poll at the site shows this: "Who won the vice presidential debate? Dick Cheney: 16.62% John Edwards: 81.50% Neither man. It was a draw: 1.87%." 99 to 1 Edwards -- Philadelphia Inquirer online poll: Cheney: 668 votes (1%) Edwards: 56,565 votes (99%); 96.5 to 3.5 Edwards -- The South Florida Sentinel online poll: Cheney 3.5% (664 responses) Edwards 96.5% (18,193 responses) CNN Online Poll: Dick Cheney 18% 32969 votes; John Edwards 78% 14,3601 votes; Evenly matched 4%. Newsday: Cheney 3.5% (693 responses); Edwards 96.5% (19,274 responses) It's Official: Saddam Was No Threat -- The report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq is about to be released and it says that Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat and the threat was diminishing. If All Else Fails, Jail Him -- The Michigan Republican Party has filed criminal charges against Michael Moore. They claim that his offering to give free underwear to anyone who registers to vote is "bribery" (see Michael Moore about the Slacker Uprising. That's a very desperate move. It's obvious that Republicans don't like for very many people to vote. They don't believe in democracy. The more people vote, the more they lose.
October 7, 2004
Another one of Cheney's big lies for effect on Tuesday was his dramatic pronouncement that he presides over the Senate every Tuesday. It's true that is his job. But in fact he's only shown up for it twice in four years. Check out The Congressional Record. What would it take to wake up Americans to political reality? asks Mark Morford, " It is as simple as dramatically changing the way we educate our children, our population? Is it desanitizing our vacuous history textbooks and making media studies and political science and current events as mandatory to the educational diet as macho sports and bad lunches and playground kickball? Or maybe it's a new national draft? Will that galvanize the rest of the populace sufficiently? How about Iraq devolving even faster into Vietnam 2.0? Is it 10,000 dead U.S. soldiers and nary an imprisoned terrorist or fresh barrel of oil to show for it? How about five bucks a gallon? Ten? Is it legalizing pot and banning guns? What will it take?" FEMA Disaster Drill Set For Election Day -- What is this about? "On Tuesday, September 28th, a new federally-funded, FEMA-directed citizen training program began in my town called CERT. CERT stands for "Community Emergency Response Team.” 35 Days Till Disaster: Is an Election Day Faux-Terror Event All But CERTain?" incunabula.org Fair and Balanced CNN took a poll off its front page when Edwards was winning three to one and replaced it with a different question. FAIR Bush in a Bubble -- Molly Ivins: "We all had our debate moments, but the one that stunned me was, 'It's (Iraq is) hard work. I see it on the TV screens.' Watching it on TV -- boy, that is tough work all right...I also came to a full stop after the one about sending troops to die. 'I never -- when I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that.' He never dreamt it? It never occurred to him? Was this man prepared for the job? Help! I lean to the 'bubble president' theory of Bush's peevish, petulant performance in debate. They've kept him surrounded by people who keep telling him he's great. He never has liked being questioned about anything..."
October 12, 2004
Jimmy Breslin, a great American, a great resource, a courageous voice. Love his straight talk: "The president is a dumb guy who gets people killed. He and his people forget he lost the last election and had it stolen for him. If you could see through his endless rapid blinking on Friday night, he seemed to show that he is not completely sane. He has a religious belief in his lies. In the Friday night debate, George Bush, who lied America into war, did say one truthful thing: 'This is going to be a long, long war.'" Zogby-WSJ poll: "The presidential debate has lifted John Kerry back to where he was in our battleground analysis before the Republican convention energized the Bush campaign. The latest Zogby Interactive poll puts Mr. Kerry ahead of President Bush in 13 of the 16 closely contested states -- two more states than the Massachusetts senator led before the debate and the most since August. The latest survey was conducted between last Thursday, after the debate ended, and Tuesday afternoon, before vice-presidential contenders Dick Cheney and John Edwards debated. Wall Street Journal Is Bush Wired (cont'd) -- Speculation on a possible transmitter aid used by Bush surfaces in the international press: The prompting device controversy goes on. Look at these pictures from Bobfertik.com. "First a T then a hump." Here is the picture of the lump on Bush's back during the second debate from the Associated Press. Australia's The Age: "Bush's campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt told the Washington Post the claims were "preposterous", but declined to elaborate or to suggest what could have produced the unusual photo. The president's tailor, Georges de Paris, who made the suit, said the bulge was nothing more than a fold along the jacket's back seam, accentuated when the president crossed his arms and leaned forward on the lectern." "Was the President wired up for TV?": This is London Bush's tailor is the latest fall guy. He's claiming his $5,000 suit just looks all rumply in back. The Scotsman Bush interpreter says Bush uses an earpiece. The interpreter first worked for Bush at a meeting with Indonesian officials. "During those 90 minutes, President Bush not only covered all the points, he covered them quite well and without any notes! Not once during the entire meeting did he look at any notes or receive cues from anyone present in discussing the Indonesian political situation with depth and intelligence. I was astonished! 'How could this be?' I asked myself. It was a huge surprise. I concluded either that Bush was much more intelligent than we had been led to believe, or that somehow someone was feeding answers to him through a hidden earpiece. At the time, I really didn't know which of these was true. Having worked directly with President Bush twice since then, and having additionally talked with many of my fellow interpreters who have worked directly with him, I am now certain that he could not have had that much knowledge of Indonesia. He doesn't even read the daily newspaper to keep up with what's being reported in the press. I am convinced that he must have been using some sort of earpiece through which someone was telling him what to say." Reuters/Zogby poll shows Kerry leading 47-44 October was unkind to Bush. According to Arizona Central: "Troubling headlines, coupled with his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, performing well in the first two debates with Bush, may have turned a Bush advantage of mid-September into an October clinch. Just over three weeks before the election, Bush is not running against Kerry as much as against events that are largely out of his control." Late Debate commentary: Obviously Bush looked a lot better than in the first debate, which was a catastrophically bad performance. But a few days after the debate, a few points stand out. One was when Bush was asked to list three times when he realized he had made a mistake and he proved himself once again explicitly unable to admit to a single mistake. He sidestepped the question and just drifted further and further away from it, talking about his "right" decisions, answering the question he wished he'd been asked. The debates are making a difference for Kerry -- Mr. Bush came out on the offensive Friday night with the hope of reclaiming his lead. A day later, a half day of spin spun, the best Mr. Bush did was stop his slide in the polls. And with about three weeks left until Election Day, the White House looks to be won on the margins. CBS One of the most illuminating moments of the debate was when Bush was asked to list three times when he realized he had made a mistake. See E.J. Dionne: "Bush's telling non-answer." Wish They Were Here -- Another gem was when he said he was "not happy" about finding out definitively there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not happy? What did he mean? He might have been not happy that he made such a drastic move based on nothing, but I suspect he was really thinking he was not happy they had been unable to plant WMDs to justify his pretext for war. "Bush didn't change the dynamic in the second debate," according to a piece in Salon. It's back to the low-expectations for Bush, for whom the deck is always stacked. If he doesn't do quite as abysmally as in the first debate, if he can crawl back an inch toward speaking an occasional logical sentence, he will be declared to have won by the corporate pundits. But Bush has been so bad it's hard for them to even pull that one off. No Draft -- And then there was his statement that categorically there would be no draft. And if you believe this I've got a bridge... How easy it is for him to say whatever he thinks he must. Why wouldn't he say whatever he thinks people want to hear now, and then go back on it once he no longer faces the voters? He did it before? Then he lied about his reasons for going to war, and later jokes about it, passes it off as unimportant... People know better than to believe him now. See The military draft and Bush's credibility problem. People preparing for the draft -- Mail Tribune Kerry takes Flagstaff's American Legion post -- Arizona Daily Sun. Here's a great Chickenhawk vid. So what if he's innocent, execute the bastard anyway. Never change course, even if you are totally wrong and it's a matter of life and death. It's the American Way. New York Times Fear is the only card of Bush -- Helen Thomas: "During the 90-minute encounter, Cheney made it eminently clear that the administration has only one card to play in this campaign -- terrorism. By keeping the country scared, the administration hopes to be safely ensconced for another four years." Propping Bush up for display by Donna Marsh O’Connor, the mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, WTC Tower II, 93rd floor. Washington Dispatch. Debate 3: Time for a Checkmate -- Tom Paine The CIA is at war against Bush -- Telegraph Marines in Iraq Speak Out -- Several members of the platoon said they were struck by the difference between the way the war was being portrayed in the United States and the reality of their daily lives. "Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day." Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it." Washington Post Bush is caught in web of illusion -- Bob Herbert
October 13, 2004
Wind-Up Commander in Chief
The Bush clan -- especially this new generation of Nixon alumni with George W. as their dunce front man -- never ceases to amaze with the extent of its bizarre antics. This thing about the bulge in Bush's back and the odd way that it seems totally plausible that it's a prompting device -- who would have thought? This is truly a sci-fi presidency. This is more outrageously nutty than a Kurt Vonnegut story, but of course it's deadly serious because so many people's lives are at stake.
It all fits together so perfectly, all we know about Bush's life, his gaming the system throughout school, the military, his "business ventures", the whole CIA, pro-Nazi history of the family -- why should it be in the slightest implausible that Bush would choose to use a prompting device that could protect him from having to ever face real questions about his job as president without some help. Now people are selecting public domain pics that we have seen before, but suddenly now that it is pointed out, there is indeed a rectangular bulge on his back in many of them. An unmistakable, geometrically perfect rectangle, quite large and prominent on his back. How very strange!
This opens a window upon a whole different kind of a presidency than most ever imagined before. Sure, it was clear he was a puppet in some ways, it was never clear how far it went. But now we see evidence of something unexplained, and the theory put forth to explain it is not conclusive by any means. But it is plausible. So much so that it is easy to feature it, and imagine the Bush presidency with that added component. It's not really much of a jump, but it's just such a striking detail.
Now that people seem to be onto it, what must the White House be doing? They must be excreting bricks. Again, all they would have to do would be to explain it. "The president has a back brace for a slipped disk." But they seem unable to do that kind of thing. There was the outrageous explanation for how he got the baseball bat lump under his eye, the choking on the pretzel story. There's the refusal to make any effort to set the record straight about Bush's lost year in his military career.
So will this just be another of myriad elephants in the room in the weird Bushworld we are citizens of? In the grand array of Bush crimes, it's not much. But it is a singular historical event. That cannot be denied. We are truly in Looney Toons now.
Check out: Dave Lindorff: "A Milli Vanilli President" on In These Times Poetry Corner -- Robo Bush.
October 14, 2004Debate Impressions -- Debate Number Three. How strange it is. They walk out, shake hands, touch each other's arms. You see them chatting. What are they saying? You lyin' sack of ... I'll kill ya! SSSSSSS!!
Bush denied saying he wasn't concerned about Osama. I just heard the recording the other day. What were the exact words? Can we roll the video tape please?!
There it is. On the White House Website: "So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you."
Results of a CBS News online poll at 11:30 Wednesday night after the debate:
John Kerry: 84.82%
President Bush: 14.60%
Course online polls don't mean nuthin'. Still, looks good. This could be a time when there is an online revolution in polling itself. There has already been an online revolution in how elections take place. This time we may see a dynamic that will be so new the traditional pollsters don't know how to put their fingers on it. It's hard to be sure, but I get a sense of democratic action rising out of the country itself that may translate into a turnout of a significant number of people who have never figured into the voting landscape before. We'll see what happens, but there are indications that what is rumbling now three weeks from the election is going to continue to move toward a peak on election day. This last few weeks the acceleration curve may become close to vertical before it cuts off Nov. 2. Then it will be a whole new world, whatever happens.
Bush was asked about the shortage of flu shots this winter. He said, "We were relying on a company out of England for those, and it turned out they were contaminated..." What? The whole United States was relying on this one company? What happened to the free market? Let's get back to that one. He jumped right into talking about young, healthy people not getting them this time, so there will be more for the people who really need it. Right, yes, of course. But what about this one company?
The first very pronounced impression of Bush is that his main focus is to give a smiling, upbeat appearance. Don't let them get anymore pictures of you scowling, you idiot. He looks practically breathless with happiness as he listened to Kerry deliver an organized series of karate chops to his throat, knees, solar plexus. He looks positively giddy.
You can see him really disciplining himself to maintain an upbeat, friendly smile while Kerry is talking. It's a visible effort. They've got him on some split screen shots while Kerry delivers an effective critique that tears his record to shreds in a clear, vivid way that average Americans can understand. And Bush is just smiling.
He looks almost disassociated, like he's not connecting, not really in the same room. It looks like it's a file photo they are just holding up there because Bush couldn't make it. When he looks at the moderator and talks, he's not focusing on him, or the camera. It's almost as if he's concentrating on something else, a broken filling, a telephone call waiting. Is he listening to something?
I tried to look at his back tonight, but no way. The guy was more conscious than a trained actor about not turning his back to the audience. All that strict denial just makes people more curious. Come on, George, just tell us what the hump is, man. How bad can it be? Are you pregnant?
Actually I now think I know the answer to the question what is the hump on Bush's back. I believe Bush is secretly a Geisha.
Still, try as he will to keep an upbeat demeanor for the photos, he starts to lose his composure and return to his truculent self as he hears Kerry's sledge hammer blows: "He's the first president since Hoover to lose jobs; he's the first president to have family income go down..." Ouch. But someone impressed on him: the scowling ain't making it.
Despite the fact that the TV pundits will find a spin for it that will flatten out any distinctions, turn it into a "toss up", no one really won. Bush will be seen to have done a great job -- compared with himself and his historic low-water mark of the first debate, so that will be enough to say he won, or at least "held his own," which is in itself pretty pathetic for the incumbent chief executive.
But turning off the TV before the pundits get their chance to mold your fresh impression, apart from the "who won" trivia (no contest), Kerry is a gifted debater. He's more at home as a debater than as a public speaker, and he's pretty good at that. But as a debater he is totally in his element, totally in command of the situation, calmly dominating, thinking and talking rings around a befuddled Bush. By the third debate he had it down to the extent that he pretty much totally controlled the debate, easily put down Bush's few meager challenges. He finishes a dense series of points and Bush goes, "Whew!" Signifying what, exactly? Bush tries to crack a joke, only his own nervous laughter echoes in the silent hall.
His manner, his schtick, worked okay in 2000 when he was an outsider and could just hurl criticisms about the previous administration. He kept blaming everything on Clinton until pretty recently, but that won't wash in a re-election campaign. Bush is not credible defending an indefensible record. He has nothing. To say. Discussing domestic policy, he brings every answer back to "education", his "No child left behind" act, his one legislative accomplishment as president other than tax cuts and war initiatives.
What do you plan to do about jobs, mr president? Well, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs program if you think about it. If we get people educated, they can get good jobs, that's why I passed that No Child Left Behind Act with that Senator Kennedy...
He tells people. "You've got more money in your pocket since I passed my tax cut to boost the economy," he says, with a hint of pleading. But that doesn't sell. People know they do not have more money in their pocket. And the No Child Left Behind Act is not going to change that, any more than the tax cuts did. This is that moment where Bush, like his father in '92, shows that, like he has said, "I really don't understand how poor people think."
In the debate context, Kerry is dazzling. He expresses coherent, compelling ideas. He really knows these subjects from having lived them. The entire performance is something on an entirely different level than something that can be transmitted through an earpiece.
If Bush had Einstein himself, or even Clinton feeding him lines, he could still never put up a good contest against Kerry in that setting. There's no comparison. It's hard for me to imagine people walking away from these debates and saying Bush is the more qualified, more inspirational, more confidence inspiring candidate.
Bush's message to the younger generations about Social Security is not reassuring. "Sure, we'll honor our commitment to seniors, but when it comes to our children and grandchildren, we're going to have to find a different strategy," he said. What are you saying?
Bush was able to do a sort of media analysis on Bush's statements, and cut into them and reveal the inherent lies, which the newsmedia rich journalist celebrities never do. It wss a fascinating interchange. Kerry made mincemeat out of Bush. Bush must be happy tonight. He will never have to face John Kerry in another debate.
The moderator asked how the candidates would deal with the problems of staffing the military, to relieve the stresses on people who have served longer than their contract requires. Bush said, "The best way to take stress on our soldiers is to win in Iraq, so we can bring them home..." Is anybody buying this stuff?