Washington Matters


'Common Good' Not Part of Bush's Thinking


Sometimes it's the little, off-the-cuff remark that an elected leader or a candidate serves up that suddenly reveals a mindset that underlies his or her approach to many important issues. One of those moments came at President Bush's news conference yesterday.

 

It came in response to a question from an Associated Press reporter who, noting that gas prices are mostly a reflection of supply and demand, wondered why the president wasn't using his bully pulpit to urge Americans to conserve more. Bush at first said he was, but then went into a defense of why he wasn't.

 

"People can figure out whether they need to drive more or less," he said. "They can balance their own checkbooks....My point to you is that, you know, it's a little presumptuous on my part to dictate to consumers how they live their lives."

 

And that somehow said a lot more about Bush's thinking -- and what's wrong with it -- than a ton of editorials could.

 

0n the face of it, the president obviously has a point, and as he went on to note, many Americans are cutting down on driving and dumping gas guzzlers for smaller cars. But he also framed the question as purely an economic one -- what can a person afford? That begs several questions. What about the wealthy? What about the guy who doesn't even know how much his chauffeur is paying to fill up the Crown Victoria or Town Car? Under Bush's logic, if you're rich enough to afford it (or someone else is picking up the tab), you don't need to cut back because you have no responsibility to the rest of us -- no responsibility to help reduce pollution, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil or help cut demand to bring down prices.

 

This "everybody for himself" attitude -- with the rich being especially free to take all they can grab  -- permeates every aspect of Bush policy, from taxation to sacrificing for the war to global warming.

 

You don't have to be a socialist or liberal to think this is wrong -- to think that we all have a responsibility to each other and to society as a whole, especially as it concerns the environment, which we all share and which our children will inherit.  But to Bush, apparently, it all depends on your personal wealth. If you've got the money, you're king. Have at it and the rest be damned.

 



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