Monday, October 04, 2004



In recent days I have seen a lot of President Bush on television. I didn’t watch the first debate on TV; instead I listened on radio. However, I have seen parts of the debate on TV, as well as several three-minute excerpts of campaign appearances of each of the two major candidates. I understand that many, perhaps most people have the reaction that they personally like George Bush. He is said to be a regular guy. One person writes that he would be a very acceptable mayor of a small city. A majority of the voters believe he is truthful, at least most of the time.

What’s wrong with me? To me, Mr. Bush seems to be a confidence man. His manner of “folksy” speaking to his audience strikes me as an attempt to make his listeners believe in his latest swindle. One must remember that a successful confidence man must be likeable. If you are going to swindle someone out of his life savings, that person has to like and trust you. Mr. Bush also reminds me of a country preacher, trying to convince me that my soul will burn in hell forever unless I “come to Jesus.” Why is my reaction so different from that of the typical American voter?

The most obvious answer is that I am biased against Mr. Bush because he is a Republican and I am a very partisan Democrat. I know I am partisan. I know also that there are Republican officials that do not seem to me to be confidence men. I tend to trust Senators McCain of Arizona, Hagel of Nebraska, Lugar of Indiana, Warner of Virginia, Spector of Pennsylvania, as well as Democratic Senators Levin of Michigan, Shumer of New York, and Feinstein of California. I may not agree with all of them, but I trust them to speak what they believe to be the truth. A Republican Senator that I instinctively do not trust, even though he is a thoroughly likeable person, is Trent Lott of Mississippi. I must confess that the only one I have ever seen in person is Senator Feinstein. After he was fired as Secretary of the Treasury, I saw Paul O’Neill on TV in an interview. I instinctively liked and trusted Paul O’Neill to be truthful. I also have a profound disagreement with him about the future of Social Security.

So, I have convinced myself that my instinctive distrust of George Bush is not simply my partisan bias against Republicans. But, what is it? I’ve been trying to remember if I’ve ever been gulled by a confidence man and if so, what was he like? Is there some acquaintance I remember from many years ago who had mannerisms similar to those of George Bush? Perhaps Mr. Bush reminds me of some character I once saw in a movie or a television show. I just can’t remember. All I can say is that I don’t trust the guy and that my distrust is deeper that simply not agreeing with him.

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