In the years this column has appeared in the various Tampa Bay Newspapers publications, Iíve occasionally stated my views on political issues and personages. Readers have accused me of being a fascist, a liberal and points between. I think Iím an independent. I get bored witless by ideologues of any stripe who think they have exclusive knowledge of what is right and best.
With Nov. 2 only a few days away, I need to state my feelings about the presidential contest, even while knowing that my opinion will have little or no influence. Iím speaking out from a sense of obligation to myself. I donít want to go into my grave knowing that when I felt my country was in danger I remained silent.
During the past four years a disaster has begun to unfold for the U.S. and perhaps for the world. It is centered in the principal policies and actions of George W. Bushís administration.
Bush and most of his advisers are not evil or dedicated to our nationís downfall. Still, I believe that Bush is a narrow-minded, insecure and in some important areas an ignorant man. He does not seek counsel from disparate sources. He reads as little as possible. He prefers to listen, but he tends to listen only to voices that reinforce his existing opinions.
At the same time he is strong, willful and wily in the pursuit of his goals. For 18 months after 9/11 he commendably led the fight against terrorism. But while waving the anti-terrorist banner, he charged into Iraq. He deposed a satanic dictator, but in doing so committed the U.S. to a long, hideously expensive and ill-thought-out redesign of a nation that for the most part does not want to be redesigned, especially by Western infidels.
Bushís Iraq adventure has cost us the support of many allies. It has poured new fuel on an already-existing hatred of the U.S. by Muslims throughout the world. I fear that our great-grandchildren will pay Ė in taxes and perhaps in blood Ė for Bushís actions. ďRemember Iraq!Ē will be a rallying cry for Muslim extremists a century from now.
While dividing (and potentially bankrupting) the American people with his Iraq policies, Bush has engineered budget cuts that have primarily benefited the rich, who did not need them.
Rather than prolong this litany, I will concede this point: Bush does not bear sole responsibility for what has happened. Some of his steps were supported by both parties in Congress. And they were applauded by millions of Americans.
But as our captain, Bush has led the way. Now we are engulfed in an insidious, slow-moving disaster that is driven by denial, inflexibility and false patriotism. Next Tuesday may be our last chance to order a course correction before our beloved ship of state crashes into reefs that could sink it.