bush (lack-of) credibility watch
This piece in the Christian Science Monitor hits the nail on the heard with regard to Bush's pattern of mendacity and deception. Money quotes:
In the past few weeks some questions have begun to arise about just how candid this White House is being in a variety of areas. The accusations aren't really of lying, per se, but rather they center on this administration's ability to give people the entire truth, the full picture of reality. Slowly and quietly, a credibility gap is opening, and this White House needs to be careful. If not, the gap may open wide enough to swallow up Bush's high poll numbers.
...It's easy to discount these problems as little bumps in the road for the president. As 2004 nears, his approval numbers are in the 60s, as people continue to put faith in him as governmental CEO, and assume that every politician stretches the truth now and again. But there's a saying in journalism. "One is an event. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend." And this trend could be particularly troubling for the president.
Bush's support doesn't come from his positions; it comes from something more personal. People like him in large part because they believe he's being straight with them. If that changes, his ride toward reelection may have more than a few twists and turns.
The piece notes three key examples about Bush being, shall we say, less than forthright: Iraq (of course), misleading claims of "average" tax cut benefits, and the recent EPA report editing flap. The ample evidence of Bush's con-artistry is already out there for anyone who cares to look, and there are encouraging indications that the press is beginning to wake up and call the Administration on its claims.
Personally, I can't wait for the Presidential debates in the 2004 race. I have a feeling that if and when a Democrat, at last, challenges Bush to defend his lousy record (no more staring blankly into the camera and saying "I trust people" for the man for whom executive secrecy is an obsession), Bush will simply crack. Here's a man whom his handlers realize can't handle being challenged -- no press conference that isn't scripted, no remark that isn't carefully rehearsed, nothing but speeches in front of friendly crowds. The minute Bush gets outside that comfort zone, he's in trouble, and the Democrats need to take the game to him.
For that reason, I doubt Bush will accept a debate.