The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, October 30, 2004  

The Inimitable Frank Rich

Frank Rich is in top form in Sunday's New York Times ("Decision 2004: Fear Fatigue vs. Sheer Fatigue," November 1). A couple of quick pull quotes about President Three More Days to whet your appetite:

Mr. [George W.] Bush, having not brought back his original bad guy dead or alive, is now fond of saying that "three-quarters of Al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice." Even if true, is he telling us the war on terror is three-quarters over? Al Qaeda is, by our government's own account, in 60 countries. Last time I looked we're only at war in two.

Mr. Bush calls himself "a war president" any chance he gets, yet he must be the first war president in history to respond to every setback with a call for new tax cuts. There isn't a person in the world, including our enemies, who doesn't know that we have fewer troops than we need, now or in perpetuity, and that we're too broke to spring for more.

And here's Rich on the president's performances during the debates:

Mr. Bush was, of course, far more entertaining in the debates than his opponent; he may be the most facially expressive president since the invention of television. But in 2004, this may not be the winning formula it was four years ago. Because the audience had seen the unplugged, petulant Bush in the first debate, it knew that his subsequent reinventions were as contrived (if not as effective) as Sally Field's in "Sybil." Unlike such natural performers as [Ronald] Reagan and Bill Clinton, he lets you see all the over-rehearsed preparation that goes into his acting. By the time he tried to mask his rage with inappropriate grinning in debate No. 3, he seemed as fake as the story line by which he had sold the country on the war in Iraq.

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