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President hushes criticism

Opinion columnists beware… that goes for you too, Democrats.

In his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Jan. 10, President Bush berated Americans for their “irresponsible debate” about the war in Iraq and the President’s motives for going to war.

Bush asked Americans to “hold their elected leaders to account and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy – not comfort to our adversaries.”

While Bush never directly named anyone he blames for this irresponsible debate, his spokesman Scott McClellan pointed fingers at various Democratic leaders including Howard Dean and Harry Reid.

While I always knew Bush was thinking it, I never dreamed he would say it.

What came as more of a shock to me is that it didn’t seem to surprise the media very much.

Of the five newspapers we receive here on campus, only the New York Times and the Toledo Blade saw fit to even mention Bush’s reprimand, and both tucked the story away in the dark corners of the Nation and World section.

The only newscast I saw that covered this issue in any depth was my favorite fake news show: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Bush has basically told the American people that it is irresponsible to criticize his actions because it makes the country look bad.

Has it never occurred to President Bush that it might be his policies and lack of planning that are making the country look bad?

Furthermore, I don’t recall the part of the First Amendment that says we have the right to free speech, except when it questions the President.

I thought that was a staple of democracy: To question whether the actions of our government is protecting the best interests and needs of our people.

The President’s speech seems to solidify the comments made in a recent Newsweek article explaining the phenomenon that is the “Bush Bubble.”

The article stated that “Bush may be the most isolated president in modern history,” and cited examples of his refusal to allow criticism to leak into his inner circle of administrators.

One source from the article said that in the White House, “disagreement is often equated with disloyalty.”

This was obvious to me after I completed the article and noted that five of the sources refused to give their names out of fear of offending or antagonizing the president.

Bush needs to understand that he cannot control the American people in the same way that he controls his officials. Americans will not lie down and allow a president to declare that criticism of the White House is wrong.

Another reason the President encouraged the end of war criticism was because it “lowers the soldiers’ morale.”

While it is refreshingly new for the president to hide behind the troops while he attempts to make his case, I wouldn’t worry so much about the soldiers’ morale.

I’m sure they can handle the idea of differing opinions.

Also, just because a person doesn’t support the war, does not mean that person does not support the men and women that have been sent overseas.

On the contrary, many who disagree with the war in Iraq do so because they fear for their loved ones who have been sent there to fight.

While I don’t promote the president’s futile attempt to silence the masses, I do encourage his idea of responsible debate. Not about censoring the content of debates, but instead to engage in real debate, rather than whining.

It’s fine to criticize President Bush.

Have the facts to support your opinion and try to stay away from the whiny, self-involved debates about how we went to war because Bush is a war-monger when all the proof you have to back it up is that “he just is, it’s so obvious.”

That, my friends, is irresponsible debate.

I would encourage President Bush to do the same.

Perhaps trying a different approach, rather than just demanding that all criticisms cease, maybe supporting the need for more “responsible” debate by proving that current debates are actually hurting someone.

Examples, man, we need examples!

Tell us what has happened and give us real reasons to reconsider our scrutiny of this administration.

Until we have that I am afraid that I will have to go on with the debates – after all, if an opinion columnist can’t debate, what can I do?

Send comments to Amanda at [email protected]

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