Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 12, 2006

Both political parties can learn much from a man who spoke his mind

Harry Taylor, a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, was just another realtor until recently. But on Thursday, April 7, in front of an audience friendly to President Bush, he gave his honest, negative opinion of the Bush presidency to the commander-in-chief himself, face to face.

It’s usually easier to criticize George Bush in writing than in person, given the President’s preference for non-spontaneous, carefully-scripted public moments.

Taylor is one of the few who’s been able to tell the President, bluntly, in a public forum, what he thinks of his policies.

Bush called on Taylor during a question-and-answer session after a speech at Central Piedmont Community College. Here is what Taylor said, minus the boos from the crowd and the President’s brief, joking interruption:

“You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. What I want to say to you, is that I, in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by, my leadership in Washington.

“I feel like, despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration. I would hope, from time to time, that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself.”

That Taylor was allowed to finish his statement is remarkable. Even more remarkable is that the President himself silenced the hecklers in the crowd. It’s testimony to Bush’s ever-weakening standing.

Taylor was the unplanned side effect of a new policy implemented by the Bush PR machine: To abandon the drill of screened audiences and scripted meetings in an attempt to make the President appear more spontaneous and able to speak and react “off the cuff” in order to bolster his sagging poll numbers.

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