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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2005
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EDITORIAL

President's cries of crisis are becoming transparent

Whether proposed reforms of the Social Security system are wise or not, we are glad President Bush proposed them. Not because change is necessary, but because it gives the nation a clear view of the president's law-by-crisis methodology.

Like the boy who cried wolf one time too many, Mr. Bush's most recent cry of "crisis" should leave Congress and the public skeptical. The president has cried crisis with such frequency that the word no longer has meaning.

Mr. Bush discovered the value of law-by-crisis in his first term when terrorist attacks truly put the nation in crisis. Legal changes were necessary to respond to a new and deadly threat, and the president rode the crisis through Congress, getting volumes of legislation passed.

The crisis card lost a bit of its luster when used to gain approval for the Patriot Act, but Bush knew a trump card when he saw it and continued playing the card indiscriminately.

Iraq was a crisis, he said, because it had weapons of mass destruction. He was wrong, but the trump card worked to garner the necessary support from Congress and the public.

The Social Security system is in crisis, he claims without justification, so we need to implement individual accounts that help his conservative backers but do nothing to help the Social Security trust fund.

Medical malpractice suits are a "crisis in America," Mr. Bush said, and we must respond to that crisis with legislation limiting the rights of patients.

The economy was in crisis, Mr. Bush cried, so tax cuts were necessary.

The education system was in crisis, Mr. Bush cried, so it was time for nationwide education reform. Congress bought the rhetoric again, passing the No Child Left Behind legislation that has teachers in an uproar.

The federal judiciary is in crisis, Bush cries, so the Senate should rubber-stamp his judicial nominees. That despite the fact that Democrats in Congress have blocked only 10 Bush nominees, fewer than the number blocked by Republicans in recent Democratic administrations.

The most poignant crisis in America is that many in Congress continue to heed the president's cries.

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