Niagara Falls Reporter back to Niagara Falls Reporter main page

back to Niagara Falls Reporter archive


By Bill Gallagher

And the winner is ... President-elect George W. Bush. The thought does make me shudder, but that's what we'll end up with come January.

Don't misunderstand. The prospect of President Al Gore didn't make me feel like dancing on the ceiling, either. But I'll never understand all the fuss about his fight to get a fair count in the closest presidential election in American history where the final battleground was a state where his opponent's brother just happened to be the governor.

Know this and remember it well: The Bushes are quintessential W.A.S.P.s and, in spite of his Texas twang, George W. always will turn to Bush The Elder's circle of Ivy League and eastern establishment pals for advice--which will disturb right-wingers, and offer little solace to others.

The media will pounce all over the first father and son presidents since John and John Quincy Adams. Those guys from Massachusetts had a lot more political savvy and skills than the Bushes from Connecticut. What separates them more than anything is that the Adams boys liked to read, and the Bush boys don't.

George The Elder prefers ripping through the Atlantic on his high-speed boat, or running through a round of golf--the only reason to golf is to walk at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery--than sitting down and cozying up with a good book. Shrub reads even less. Unless they have some reading disability, people who don't like to read usually are avoiding thoughts that force their minds to examine or reexamine their own views.

The readaphobics I know include lawyers (surprise, surprise), doctors, educators, clergy, journalists, and on and on. They read to the point they're forced to: to get through college and get their professional degrees, and then they shut their eyes and close their minds to books. They arrogantly assume they've learned all there is to know, and coast through life relying on experience, instinct and visceral feelings as substitutes for the real thought that reading provokes.

For Shrub and others of his ilk, reading causes confusion or forces them to question their preconceived notions. Now, that wouldn't be prudent, would it?

Because he slid through life without reading, George W. never developed the curiosity that comes with it. It's sobering to note that Vice President to-be Dick Cheney has had more heart attacks (four) than Shrub has had trips abroad. And it's not that he didn't have the money--the fact is, the incurious Bush prefers to stay at his desolate ranch in Crawford, Texas, rather than to venture into the unknown of reading. The narrowness shows.

Recently, I heard a presentation from the chief Washington correspondent for the largest German television network. During the campaign, he and his crew were given extraordinary access to Bush, something Americans never got. What struck the German journalist was how incredibly oblivious Bush was about what's happening outside the United States.

While discussing the death penalty--expert-Bush has sent 40 people off to government-sanctioned murder already this year--his jaw dropped when the Germans told him they had no death penalty and all the countries in the European Union had dropped the barbarism long ago.

Bush was stunned. That was the first time he had heard that. The Germans were amazed Bush was so ignorant about what they considered common knowledge. He knew little about Europe and next to nothing about Africa and Asia and, more disturbing, he didn't seem to care or want to learn more.

Sure, he can surround himself with the likes of Colin Powell and Condellezza Rice, but those associations will never replace his getting some good books about the world and reading them himself.

During these long post election nights while Bush is holed up at the "Ugly Bar" ranch in Texas, a place where persons of taste would fight for a book to help forget the bleak landscape, his aides were quick to note their man was spending his time reading the new biography of Joe DiMaggio. Don't ask him for a book review, but I'm for anything that takes the President-elect toward the written word. If Grandma Moses could take up painting at age 90, there's hope Shrub will turn to books and the reflection that comes with them--a valuable virtue for the President and the nation.

Stiff Al probably read more than he should, especially his own material.

Well, here's some gratuitous prose for him as he parts into the political sunset:

"My fellow Americans, the closest race for president in our history is now over. I congratulate President-elect Bush on his victory. I call upon all Americans to join with me in pledging our support for him, and I offer my help in any way I can assist him in making ours a better nation.

"The closeness of the election required careful examination. Democracy is not always quick and simple. But to America's friend and foes alike, you must know George W. Bush is our next president and we stand behind him.

"I accept the will of the people, and will forever be grateful that so many of you supported Sen. Lieberman and me. We won the popular vote, and that speaks mightily about the faith the American people have in what we stand for.

"Tipper and I treasure the wonderful years we have had as I've served as a representative in Congress, a United States Senator and as your Vice President.

"What happened in this remarkable election affirms my faith in our republic and the rule of law. It truly has been a gratifying experience.

"But now I move on. I shall no longer seek elective office, but as I leave the stage of that great experience, I thank you for your support and look forward to serving my nation with whatever talent and work I can offer.

"May God's grace shine upon President-elect Bush, his administration and the American people." I doubt stiff Al Gore will ever deliver that speech, but it's not half bad.

Bill Gallagher is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox News. His e-mail address is