I previously said that I’ve not much inclination toward trying to lay the responsibility for the levee breaches solely at Bush’s feet, if for no other reason than I just don’t feel confident that I have all the information to determine that one way or another. However, the responsibility for the catastrophically abysmal response to this tragedy I feel quite confident about aiming solidly in his direction, not only because of his practical response, which, as widely discussed, has been nothing short of atrocious, but also because of the closely held beliefs about the role of government that have made this situation infinitely worse than it needed to be. As Rob Salkowitz notes:
It’s moments like this when you need a party in power that actually believes in the affirmative power of government to help its citizens, rather than the party that sees government’s role as protecting the property of the well-off from the predations of the underclass. It’s when the true ugly soul of American conservatism is borne out for what it is: a rationalization of selfishness and the hysterical denial of community. America is about to see what happens when the government is staffed by people appointed to their jobs precisely for their disdain for the whole notion of policy in the public interest. It’s won’t be pretty.Damn straight. Take a look at the international analysis of what’s happening in America right now—the entire world is appalled, watching the richest country in the world let its people die of thirst, and yet that is the inevitable result of a ruling party who feels little obligation to its citizens. I once wrote: “The Conservative view ultimately benefits a very small minority; the Liberal view benefits us all.” Never has that been more glaringly apparent than in the aftermath of Katrina, as those for whom Bush and his ilk have the greatest contempt turn to their government for help in a time of crisis as the whole world watches, and their government offers not compassion but blame. I think the administration will quickly find that abstract endorsements of personal responsibility which elicited such fervent applause from hand-picked campaign crowds won’t be met with quite the same reception when offered in lieu of the practical solutions now required. If the chance to so easily identify with those quite literally left stranded by the callousness of conservative philosophy doesn't finally reveal its utter folly to a majority, I don't believe anything ever will. As Matthew Yglesias said today, “They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Similarly, there are no libertarians in the aftermath of a giant, city-wide flood.”
The news yesterday stirred in me equal feelings of desperate concern for the people hit hardest by this near-inconceivable disaster and blinding anger toward the people responsible for their continued suffering. The two feelings crashed headlong into each other as I listened to a woman on NPR, sobbing, pleading with Bush to help them. She said children and women are being raped, many are in dire need of medical care, and people are starving and dying of thirst. “Please, President Bush, please send someone to save us.” I just completely broke down. It was the final straw, listening to someone beg for help from someone who was out playing golf while she was fighting for her life.
There are those now calling for Bush’s impeachment. Fuck impeachment. The whole lot of them—every last conservative ideologue who has advocated “starving the beast,” every last one of those selfish, soulless, anti-American bastards—ought to be rounded up and sent to the Superdome to live in the river of shit and piss until every single refugee has been provided safe sanctuary and a warm meal. Then Bush and his gang of cretins can clean up the trail of scattered corpses. Let the blood that belongs on their hands be a literal lesson for these pitiless pieces of human refuse. It’s long overdue.
(Thanks to Toast for the pointer to Rob Salkowitz.)