Culture of Life or Cruel Joke?
If nothing else, Bush recognizes a good marketing slogan when he hears one. ‘Compassionate conservatism’ got him elected and ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘freedom’s on the march’ got him reelected. And now with his latest, ‘culture of life,’ he is laying the groundwork for the next extremist right-wing administration to succeed him.
Problem is, brilliantly conceived though they are, they are nothing but vapid slogans with no substance, no deeds to back them up. They sound good on the stump and make excellent sound bites for Fox News, but when one looks for examples to validate his words, there are none.
Bush had been floating ‘culture of life’ out there for awhile, but the Terri Schiavo case gave him an opportunity to repeat the mantra on a daily basis. Yet, each time he utters the phrase it merely exposes him for the hypocrite that he is.
To Bush and the inaptly named pro-lifers, their so-called culture of life apparently only extends to fetuses and those at death’s door. Everyone in between is fair game. The fact is that Bush’s policies are in direct contradiction to a genuine culture of life.
The differences between how a functioning culture of life would operate and how Bush’s policies negate that culture are stark, chilling and obvious. And numerous.
A culture of life places a high value on the health of its citizens. Yet Bush is silent when it comes to a national health care policy. Over five million more people are uninsured today than when he took office, and the even more shocking fact is that infant mortality rates have actually gone up in America. His administration has cut back funding for neo-natal care, free lunch and pre-school programs and, at the other end, slashed Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly.
A culture of life would be concerned that the US has far and away the highest rate of homicide and violent crime in the world and enact reasonable gun laws restricting firearm possession. Yet Bush chooses to cater to the NRA while ignoring the obvious.
Moreover, this culture would not only understand the correlation between guns and crime but poverty and crime. Since The Duh took office the number of people living below the poverty level has risen by 4.3 million, to a total of just under 36 million. Oh, and one in three of those is a child.
It would seem that a ‘president’ who is so ‘pro-life’ could also figure out the link between abortion and poverty. Fact is, the abortion rate has actually increased during his tenure, primarily among those with low, or no, incomes.
Above all, a culture of life is a protector of the Earth and the things which sustain us. His environmental record is the sorriest and most inexcusable in the history of man. And getting worse. While he disputes the proven reality of global warming, he allows mercury (and other) emission levels to continue at alarming rates in the air and water ‘— and calls it the Clear Skies Act.
How about an energy policy that develops renewable sources such as solar, steam, hydro-electric, wind, etc, rather than reduces restrictions on ‘nucular’ plants and opens up the Alaskan wetlands for oil drilling? Would not a culture of life understand that the planet’s resources are finite and that the common good requires conservation rather than exploitation?
As for those living with debilitating diseases, a culture of life would use any means at its disposal to help find a cure for those diseases. It would encourage the efforts of stem cell researchers and fund them at the highest possible level. Rather, this administration places a higher value on undifferentiated cells in a Petri dish than a living, breathing person whose life could be miraculously transformed by the medical breakthroughs possible with embryonic stem-cell therapy.
It is incumbent on a culture of life to show mercy, even to the most vile of its citizens. It does not kill one person to avenge the killing of another. It does not, as in Bush’s case, execute 152 people, even publicly mocking one woman as she awaited execution, biting his tongue to sound like he had a speech impediment and sneering, ‘“Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.’”
A culture of life respects international law and the sovereignty of all nations. It does not unilaterally and preemptively attack other nations. It does not use intelligence known to be specious and inconclusive to justify launching an unprovoked war. It does not impose its form of government or religion on other societies. It tallies civilian casualties. It is a culture of peacemakers.
On all these counts and more, Bush falls tragically short. If respect for human dignity is the determinant, then Bush’s culture of life is a cruel joke.
But I’m not laughing.