WASHINGTON, DC—Freshly unearthed public documents, ranging from newspapers to cabinet-meeting minutes, seem to indicate large gaps in George W. Bush's service as president, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for an Informed Society announced Monday.
"We originally invoked the Freedom Of Information Act to request material relating to Bush's spotty record while in office," CIS director Catherine Rocklin said. "But then we realized that the information was readily available at the corner newsstand, on the Internet, and from our friends and neighbors who pay attention to the news."
According to Rocklin, the most damning documents were generated at roughly one-day intervals during a period beginning in January 2001 and ending this week. The document's sources include, but are not limited to, the U.S. newspaper The New York Times, the London-based Economist magazine, and the well-known international business and finance record, The Wall Street Journal.
"Factual data presented in these publications indicates that Bush took little or no action on issues as widely varied as the stalled economy, increasing violence in post-war Iraq, and the lagging public education system," Rocklin said. "The newsprint documents also reveal huge disparities between the ways Bush claimed to have served Medicare patients, and what he actually did."
Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards said he was not surprised by the report.
"These documents reconfirm what they told us the first time we saw them," Edwards said while stumping for Kerry in Ohio. "Namely, that our president was seriously negligent during the three and a half years he was supposed to be serving his country."
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is one of many Republicans who demanded an independent investigation into the authenticity of the documents.
"We're fairly confident that these so-called 'news stories' will turn out to be partisan smear tactics," DeLay said. "I wouldn't be surprised if all 11 billion of these words turn out to be forgeries. For thousands of reporters, editors, and government officials to claim that Bush compromised the security and fiscal health of this nation is not merely anti-American, but also dangerous."
In addition to the media documents, CIS examined more than 20,000 government records, which ranged from U.S. Department of Labor unemployment reports to transcripts of State Of The Union addresses.
"Bush shirked his presidential duties with regard to the nation's fiscal health," Rocklin said. "Take, for example, the controversial memo in which Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin states that the federal deficit will reach a record high of $422 billion this year. This memo unequivocally shows that Bush was AWOL on the domestic front."
Rocklin said the documents indicate that Bush used his family's political connections to obtain his job in the executive branch.
"Bush stepped ahead of more qualified candidates to take what he thought would be a cushy job," Rocklin said. "Then, after signing up for a four-year term, he largely abandoned his post in 2004 to go work on a political campaign."
Rocklin said her organization obtained print-outs from the press-briefings section of the White House web site which show that Bush has spent nearly as much time out of the White House as in it.
U.S. Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) called the print-outs "meaningless."
"If the president said he did his duty, then he did," Enzi said. "Furthermore, so what if a bunch of White House staffers can't remember seeing Bush around the place? The West Wing is full of guys wearing identical blue suits. And how can anyone be expected to remember every little thing that went on 30 months ago?"
While experts say it may be too early to judge the impact the documents may have on the polls, top Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign organizers said they are confident the scandal will be short-lived.
"Our opponents have dredged up this kind of thing every time Bush has run for office," Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd said. "We've faced down widely reported, fully researched, carefully documented accounts of Bush's alcoholism, drug use, private-sector business failings, ignorance in matters of state, smug arrogance, and general self-serving lackadaisical behavior. So I'm hardly worried. An overwhelming mass of published information like this has never stopped Americans from voting for him before."