Friday, September 16, 2005

The more things change....

Sidney Blumenthal:

With each of his three trips to survey the toxic floodwaters of New Orleans, Bush drifted farther out to sea. On his most recent voyage, on Monday, asked about his earlier statement, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees", he said: "When that storm came through at first, people said, 'Whew!' There was a sense of relaxation." In fact, the levees began to be breached before the eye of the storm hit the city. Queried about the sudden resignation that day of his Federal Emergency Management Agency director, Michael "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" Brown, Bush told the press, "Maybe you know something I don't know". On Tuesday, he tried a novel tactic to deflect "the blame game", as he called it. "To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right," he declared, "I take responsibility." "Extent" was the loophole allowing his magnanimity to be bestowed on the distant abstraction of government.

It was easier for Bush to renounce alcohol at age 40 than ideology at almost 60. Bush had radicalized Ronald Reagan's conservatism, but never has Reagan's credo from his first inaugural rung so hollow: "Government is not the solution to our problem." Yet social Darwinism cannot protect the homeland. That 20,000 mostly poor blacks were locked in the New Orleans Convention Center without food and water for several days without the knowledge of federal officials is not an urban legend.

Poverty, previously unmentionable, has increased about 9 percent since Bush assumed office. The disparity between the superpower's evangelical mission to democratize the world and its indifference at home is a foreign policy crisis of new dimension. Can Iraq be saved if Louisiana is lost? Bush's credibility gap is a geopolitical problem without a geopolitical solution. Assuming a new mission, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wears her racial identity to witness for Bush's purity of heart. So long as Bush could wrap himself in 9/11 his image was shielded; he could even justify Iraq by flashing the non sequitur to his base. But once another event of magnitude thundered over his central claim as national defender, the Bush myth crumbled. It would take another event of this scale to begin to restore it. But it would also require a different set of responses from Bush. Now his evocation of 9/11 only reminds the public of his failed promise.

The rest of the Bush presidency will consist of his strained efforts to cobble his myth together again while others cope with the consequences of his damage. The hurricane has tossed and turned the country but will not deposit it on firm ground for at least the three and half years remaining of the ruined Bush presidency.
Of course, as mentioned in the comments below: where's the good news for the poor, the powerless, the dispossessed?

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