Just As I Thought

The bully pulpit we paid for

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: once you get into office, the perks that keep you there are outrageous and expensive for taxpayers. As much as I want to rail against Bush for this one, it’s been exploited by Clinton and all the presidents preceding him:

When President Bush headed west on Wednesday to raise $1.5 million dollars for his reelection, his campaign enjoyed one of the greatest bargains in American politics: all-day use of Air Force One for the price of a few first-class airfares.

Although the trip had an explicitly political purpose, taxpayers will pick up most of the expenses, as they did for President Bill Clinton and his predecessors. The Republican National Committee has estimated the cost of flying Air Force One at $35,000 or more per hour, but federal rules require the Bush-Cheney campaign to reimburse the government only for the cost of a first-class plane ticket for the president and a handful of political aides who accompany him.

The taxpayer-subsidized fundraising trips are just one of the ways Bush is maximizing the advantages of incumbency in preparing for his reelection race. For instance, he plans to keep Karl Rove, his top political strategist, on the government payroll throughout the campaign as the White House senior adviser.

That last bit really steams me — our taxes are paying for that smug bastard Karl Rove, who is only a senior adviser in the sense that as a political Machiavelli, he is present at all times creating the fundamentalist neo-con policies that are driving this country into the toilet.

And, of course, there’s always a little hypocrisy involved with something like this:

It is clear, for instance, that the first-class fares cover only a small fraction of the cost of operating Air Force One. The Air Force estimate is $2,912 per hour, which includes fuel, oil, water and latrine costs. The General Accounting Office has put the cost at more than $34,000, and the Republican Party used the figure of $35,000 in 2000 when complaining about travel by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who at the time was first lady and running for the Senate.

And last but not least:

Being president gives Bush other advantages that no opponent can hope to match. It means riding in a 20-vehicle motorcade that raced through the closed streets of downtown Louisville.

Being president also means police officers and Secret Service agents keep demonstrators out of sight and out of earshot. In Louisville, they were corralled across the street from the hotel. So Bush could not hear the chants of, “U-G-L-Y, Bush has got no alibi.” And he could not see the signs reading, “Bush Does To Christianity What Osama Does To Islam.”

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