Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



BUSH'S MIDDLE EAST POLICIES ARE PART OF HIS LARGER POLITICS OF FEAR -- Speech on the Floor of the Senate, June 3, 2008.

Madam President, 

The fear-monger-in-chief was at it again several weeks ago, when he delivered one of his most offensive attacks yet on those who disagree with his disastrous policies. George W. Bush, speaking in Israel on May 15, equated a willingness to talk to Iran and leaders of some Middle East groups with appeasement of Hitler and the Nazis in Europe prior to World War II.  Although he did not mention any Democratic Presidential candidate by name, the attack was a clear reference to Senator Barack Obama. Never mind that some people in Bush’s own cabinet have advocated the same type of engagement that Obama has said he would pursue. Never mind that some of Bush’s Republican predecessors also talked with enemies – Richard Nixon famously took the first steps to improve relations with China. Ronald Reagan, even while referring to the Soviet Union as the evil empire, built a relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev.  They understood that talking and negotiating with your enemies does not constitute appeasement. It only becomes appeasement when you give up something without getting anything in return. 

But facts have never mattered to this administration. Bush shamefully used the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel to try scoring cheap political points at home. The Politics of Fear is his fundamental strategy -- one might even call it his fundamental public policy. The Politics of Fear dominates not only Bush’s rhetoric, but also his administration’s actions. 

Just look at what has gone on in this country as the Bush Administration has attempted to consolidate its political power by cynically capitalizing on the tragedy of 9-11.   

We have the wire tapping of United States citizens without warrants, contrary to the Bill of Rights. 

We have domestic spying on United States citizens without warrants, contrary to the Bill of Rights. 

We have people hauled off to secret prisons, without habeas corpus, without facing their accuser, without rights to legal representation or contact with the outside world, again contrary to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. 

We have the United States engaging in torture, something that most Americans throughout our history have considered repugnant and immoral. It was a matter of pride for Americans that our country did not engage in torture. But under the Bush Administration, we can no longer hold our head high on that score. 

We have the government infiltration of peaceful anti-war groups. 

We have the Bush Administration using terms like Islamo-Fascism, trying to frighten the American public with subtle comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini -- when in fact, radicals from the Arab have almost nothing in common with Fascism, and when it is the Bush Administration that uses many of the tactics employed by the dictatorial German and Italian regimes in the 1930s. 

All of this has been justified by the Politics of Fear, as Bush tries to play upon the emotions of the American public, rather than follow a sound and rational foreign policy.  

We have even seen the same tactics permeate their politics on the domestic front, and trickle down to the state level. In Ohio in 2004, the Politics of Fear played a large role in election turnout when they put a gay marriage referendum on the ballot, trying to boost conservative turnout through fear of some sort of homosexual assault on the institution of marriage. We recently saw an effort, eventually abandoned, to do the same thing in this state.  

If not reversed, the legacy of this administration will be the very real danger it has created to America and the principles that we have stood for since 1776.  Bush has become exactly the thing he has warned the country about – a threat to our freedom. In the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, when the country was united behind him, he said that the al Qaeda hijackers attacked us “because they hate freedom,” and he promised that we would hunt down the terrorists and defeat them.  Since then, he has squandered the unity of the American public by trying to use it exclusively for political advantage, through the Politics of Fear. Osama bin Laden has been forgotten, and I worry that the terrorists are winning – but not because they knocked down the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon. As tragic as those events were for the victims and their families, they would never have been enough to break the spirit of freedom within the hearts of the American people. Rather the terrorist have given this administration an excuse to deprive us of the constitutional guarantees of liberty that the founding fathers bequeathed to us. If it is true that the terrorists hate freedom and wanted to destroy it in American, they may very well be succeeding, not because of their own actions, but because of George Bush’s reaction. 

I would ask you now to honor the memory of two Pennsylvania soldiers who lost their lives in the fighting in Iraq. They are among the 4,085 members of the American military killed in Iraq.  Another 29,975 have been wounded.

Private First Class Matthew C. Bowe, 19, of Coraopolis died Feb. 19, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an IED. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.  

Specialist Luis O. Rodriguez-Contrera, 22, of Allentown, died March 2, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an IED detonated near his vehicle while on combat patrol. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. 

Thank you, Madam President.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo