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2tb STREET BOOKS \\Namiumiavaimaiagaiagaimial owe ,ichotelif out al /19**1′.11: 827 West 12th Street Austin, TX 2 blocks east of Lamar Monday-Satmlay 10-6 512.499.8828 Bush at War, continued from page 5 was as if nothing else existed.” But like a good little vice president, he was up and down on the idea during this period, paying close attention to Bush’s barometric comments on the best timing for the proposed Iraq adventure. You’ll get a kick out of our head-tilting vice president. Actually, you won’t hear much from him worth remembering until the White House gets some serious warnings that the terrorists might be coming its way. At that point, without asking permission from his president, Cheney declares that he’s out of there, fast. Not that he was frightened, oh no. Not brave little Cheney. he explained, “to preserve the govern ment, its continuity of leadership.” Woodward says Cheney “had been training all his life for such a war. His credentials were impeccable …”. Impeccable? Well, he had been chief of staff to one of our most forgettable one of our most insignificant states tary of defense during our first war with Iraq, which the present arms buildup indicates we must have lost. That’s “impeccable” to Woodward. We get an equally fawning profile of our pious president, who tells Woodward that war “leads to a larger question of your view about God” and that view should be “we’re all God’s children.” In case we don’t understand that evaluation of mass slaughter, Woodward translates with a nice gloss: “He wanted war with both practical and moral dimensions.” Knowing Woodward would spread the gospel in this way, through the Washington Post and best-selling books, the Bush administration turned over many “secret” \(that’s what Woodward him several hours of private interviews, including some down on the ranch. When so much stuff is just handed to a reporter, the anticipated quid pro quo is obvious, and that’s why I called this book “pseudo-investigative” journalism. Woodward introduces us to Bush the intellectual: “I’m not a textbook player, I’m a gut player.” And Bush the world leader \(in response to Secretary of State Powell’s concern that if we extended the war too widely, some of our allies might the only ones left.That’s ok with me.We are America.” And Bush the democratic leader: “I’m the commandersee, I don’t need to explainI do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.” And Bush as a leader in domestic affairs: “The war on terrorism is what my presidency is about.” And Bush the visionary \(as seen by an ambitious reordering of the world through preemptive and, if necessary, unilateral action to reduce suffering and bring peace.” Yes, you’ve got to watch out for those Republican humanitarians. Longtime Observer contributor Robert Sherrill reports on Washington politics and corporate malfeasance. SUVs, continued from page 13 any Ford Ranger that got the normal 20.7 m.p.g. in the lab can be counted as getting the duel-fuel mileage \(44 duel fuel engine! \(Please note: I “Once more,” Bradsher writes of this preposterous stipulation, “the world had been made safe for big SUVs.” For all its brilliance, Bradsher’s investigation fails to grapple with one underlying conceptual problem. Bradsher is obviously indig nant about the safety problems that SUVs suffer. But how does one actually decide what’s “safe”? Cars and trucks, at least as we know them, are inherently deadly and dirty machines.Theoretically, however, the technology exists to design vehicles that are nearly death-proof and pollution free. The speed limit could be dropped to 40 m.p.h.; vehicles could be produced that never exceeded 50 m.p.h.; we could all drive cars that were buffered as securely as police cars; we could all drive fuel-efficient hybrids that get 100 m.p.g. Bradsher never argues for complete safety or zero emissions. Which raises a thorny, slippery slope-ish kind of question: Where should federal regulators and lawmakers draw the line? Safety is and always has been a calculation between rigid regulation and laissez-faire freedom. GM’s director of advanced technology notes, “Even if you’re driving a tank down the road, you could always get hit by a locomotive?’ Bradsher tosses aside this quotation as an example of corporate evasion and smugness. He would have done better to rec ognize that the guy just might have a point, and then proved him wrong. In the end, though, Bradsher’s arguments are stronger, better articulated, more nuanced, and more convincing than the industry’s obfuscations. Which is a good thing, given that the environmentalists, by their own admission, havewrong metaphormissed the boat. “We were stupid,” admits the Sierra Club’s president. “We didn’t know where the auto industry was going and we didn’t have the contacts in the auto industry to tell us.” Fortunately, especially for those who insist on purchasing these irresponsible and obnoxious machines, the same cannot be said for Keith Bradsher. James McWilliams is a writer in Austin, where he can often be seen riding a bike. 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/17/03