I've been trading e-mail about Bush's response to the tragedy in New Orleans with a Republican friend of mine (if there's a way to argue politics good-naturedly, we do it). Other than the shortcoming of his political leanings, he's a very intelligent, articulate guy. He's one of my best friends and I have a great deal of respect for him.
Anyway, for some reason I spent a lot of time writing today's response, so since I went to the trouble to write it, here it is. OK, most of it. The whole thing is WAAAAAY too long:
Every time Bush is called on in a time of crisis, he comes up nonexistent. When he does act, it's never quick and decisive, probably because of the lengthy consideration of the political consequences of each course of action.
That's not just jaded cynicism talking, that's a response to the fact that everything this administration does is politically motivated. Sure every administration considers the political ramifications of everything they do, but these people have completely abandoned sound policy in favor of political points at every turn. "The jury's still out on global warming." Are you fucking kidding me?
Naturally, Bush's response to the situation is pure politics -- the visit to GMA when he told softballer Diane Sawyer that "I don't think anybody anticipated the failure of the levees?" Is he joking? In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. So what did the Bush administration do? It cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. Clearly this is someone who doesn't read any briefing put before him.
Also, he made a point to say, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" in front of a group of reporters. Brownie, of course, being, according to Maureen Dowd, "Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA -- a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association."
Looting, rapes, shootings, anarchy, bodies rotting in the streets. I'd hate to see what Bush considers a lousy job.
What we are seeing here, my friend, isn't politicians scoring political points, but a revolt by an outraged and suddenly ballsy press. Consider the aforementioned blithering idiot's appearance on GMA. (transcript excerpt deleted)
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was dressed down on NPR's "All Things Considered." (transcript excerpt deleted)
Let's not forget Anderson Cooper vs. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was busy thanking the president, Bill Frist et al. while bodies were rotting in the streets (is that what you meant about a Democrat trying to score political points during a crisis by tearing down the president?)
This isn't political opposition trying to tear down a damaged president. This is the press doing its job, reporting what it sees. And what it sees is failure in the face of tragedy.
It would be one thing if this show of incompetence were unusual for the administration. But this administration has damaged everything it has touched. It turned a record surplus into a record deficit in two years. NCLB is such a success that, acording to the Chicago Sun-Times, as of April "21 states have introduced legislation or taken other action to change NCLB." Connecticut has sued Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, and the largest teachers union in Pennsylvania urged Gov. Rendell to join the suit. The Texas State Teachers Association, a group you might think would be sympathetic to Bush, has joined the suit. Iraq is a quagmire from which we have no exit strategy, Osama is an afterthought (and still on the loose). The gap between the rich and poor is as big as its ever been, 45.8 million people in this country have NO health insurance and 37 million people in this country live below the poverty level -- a number that has not gone down since Bush took office. Meanwhile, in 2004, CEOs saw their average total compensation boosted an average of nearly 12 percent, to more than $9.8 million. The average nonsupervisory workers' pay increased just 2.2 percent, to $27,485. Also, corporate income tax revenues in 2003 were 36 percent lower than in 2000, and represented only 1.2 percent of the GDP and only 7.4 percent of all federal tax receipts in 2003. The latter number is, with the exception of 1983, the lowest percentage on record.
Labels: All Children Left Behind, Correspondence, Healthcare, Incompetent Administration, Katrina, Poverty, Rich get Richer, Taxing Logic, War on Terror